The following was submitted by Mendell Morgan, former Division 5 Lt. Governor of the Texas-Oklahoma District of Kiwanis International and El Progreso Memorial Library director.
At the May 29 meeting, Uvalde Kiwanis Club recognized community philanthropist and chapter president Ben Elliott with the Zeller Fellowship award for his donation to a club campaign to end illness in the developing world.
The award was given in recognition of Elliott’s personal contribution The Eliminate Project, an initiative of Kiwanis working with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund to end maternal and neonatal tetanus in developing countries.
Kiwanis International is completing a multi-year campaign to raise $110 million to pay for inoculations of women of child-bearing years in 59 undeveloped nations. This is to protect the mother and all future unborn children from contracting tetanus.
The Zeller Fellowship is named in memory of Walter Zeller, who contributed 25 Canadian silver dollars as a nest egg to establish the Kiwanis International Foundation in 1940. His dream came true when his coins were auctioned for $625 and invested.
Thousands of donor gifts later, the foundation has grown into a multi-million dollar organization that awards grants to Kiwanis clubs and underwrites life-altering worldwide service projects.
A native of Waterloo County in Ontario, Canada, Zeller was the founder of the Zellers chain of thrift stores. He began his business career in 1912 as a stock boy for F.W. Woolworth, and was later named general sales manager for the Metropolitan chain of stores in New York.
An energetic, forthright and magnetic leader, he also served as director-at-large of the National War Savings Committee and as a special advisor to the Wartime Prices and Trade Board. He gave much of his fortune and life to philanthropy.
Zeller served as the Montreal Director of the YMCA and in many capacities with Kiwanis, where he was president of the Montreal Club and governor of the Ontario-Quebec-Maritime District.
The Eliminate Project created this Walter Zeller Fellowship to acknowledge special gifts.
“Thank you, Ben, for your support of this initiative and for all the positive things you, your family and the Uvalde Kiwanis Club do to make Uvalde a better community,” said Mendell Morgan, past Lt. Governor for Division 5 of the Texas-Oklahoma District of Kiwanis International and current director of El Progreso Memorial Library.