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  • Bill DuBois Sr. keeps ringing through the years for Salvation Army

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    December 02, 2013

    With the familiar rhythmic ringing of a gold bell, a smiling Bill DuBois Sr., 97, has been greeting Valley shoppers for decades as he volunteers to collect money for The Salvation Army each season.

    “He’s got great stories, a great sense of humor, and he knows everybody in town,” said El Centro Kiwanis member Jim Rhodes. “He may be better at this than anyone else because so many people know and recognize him. He’s really a great guy.”

    He first started doing it in 1947 in front of what was then Clement’s Drugstore in downtown El Centro.

    And on Saturday, DuBois Sr. was assisted by two generations of family. His son Bill DuBois and teenage grandsons Ed and Will DuBois also were helping him collect funds by playing the saxophone and operating a remote-controlled Santa Claus robot they created.

    “He’s been inspirational not just to me but to my kids as well,” the younger Bill DuBois said. “He also inspires the whole Kiwanis Club by his activities and enthusiasm. He’s always enthusiastic.”

    About a dozen members of El Centro Kiwanis and Rotary clubs have volunteered to ring bells this year, and aside from the volunteers, 20 workers will be ringing bells to help raise funds for the meals and aid the Salvation Army provides year round.

    Strangers and friends all smiled at the good-natured man as they put their donations in the shiny red Salvation Army donation kettle while passing by Saturday.

    DuBois Sr. even helped The Salvation Army when he was living in Sacramento lobbying for the state’s Farm Bureau.

    “I’ve been doing work with The Salvation Army wherever I go. They’re good people,” he said. “The Salvation Army is well-known enough here and do enough good work that people are generally acquainted with their actions. El Centro is lucky because they have a good unit of The Salvation Army.”

    Volunteering also gives the well-known man a chance to see some old faces every year.

    “Just this afternoon, I re-met a lady I hadn’t seen since high school,” he said happily Saturday as he recalled how the woman’s father used to sell spices door-to-door.

    “He knows so many people. He’s been a farmer, a lobbyist for the Farm Bureau, and been involved with El Centro Kiwanis for about 60 years. Every farmer and farming family in the Valley knows him. He’s the history of the Valley,” said Chuck Storey, El Centro Kiwanis and Rotary member. “For his age, he’s awfully active.”

    Chelcey Adami , Staff Writer