October 31, 2004

Association to honor Ben Gelman for service

by Greg Scott

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A Makanda man who has garnered respect as an accomplished journalist and photographer is the recipient of the 2005 Service to Southern Illinois Award.

Ben Gelman, a featured columnist in the Southern Illinoisan newspaper, will receive the honor on Nov. 13 at an awards banquet hosted by the Jackson County Chapter of the SIU Alumni Association. The chapter will also recognize five scholarship recipients. This year's winners are Kendra Ann Bachmann of Murphysboro High School, Christen Renee McGill of Trico High School, Sylvia San of Carbondale Community High School, and Sara Elizabeth Starkey of Carbondale Community High School. Also being honored is Nicole Jones, a Murphysboro native and current SIUC student, the recipient of the Jackson County Family YMCA Scholarship.

The event begins with a 6 p.m. social followed by dinner in Ballroom B of the SIUC Student Center. Seats can be reserved by contacting the SIU Alumni Association at 453-2408. Tickets are $17.50 per person.

The Service to Southern Illinois Award recognizes an individual who has provided outstanding service to Southern Illinois. A New York City native, Gelman served as a commercial photographer from 1939-1956 in various positions throughout his home state, before moving to Carbondale in 1956. He began a 26-year career as a photographer, regional editor, reporter, and Sunday news editor at the Southern Illinoisan. His stories focused on University achievements, and interesting people and events in the southern Illinois region.

Gelman left the newspaper in 1982 to accept a position at SIUC as a public information specialist. He wrote stories for the University's quarterly alumni magazine, publicizing individual contributions, research, and services to alumni and friends. Gelman also served as editor of the SIUCourier, a weekly newspaper for faculty and staff of the University, focusing on the achievements of those who contributed to the enhancement of the institution.

A Pulitzer Prize nominee in 1969, Gelman received the 1991 Lindell W. Sturgis Public Service Award from the SIU Board of Trustees. An avid community volunteer, he is co-founder of several regional organizations including the Carbondale Foundation for a Better Environment, Egyptian Seniors' Golf Association, Jackson County Historical Society, Jackson County Mental Health Association, Southern Illinois Audubon Society, and Jackson County Philatelic Society.

Additional honors for Gelman include receiving the Delta Award from SIUC's Morris Library, bestowed upon him for his book "Bird-Watching with Ben." He received the Service to Education Award from the Educational Council of 100, and was named Conservationist of the Year in 1988 by the Southern Illinois Audubon Society.

Gelman retired from SIUC in 1995. An avid bird-watcher, he currently writes a column that is published each Thursday in the Southern Illinoisan. Gelman and Virginia, his wife of 58 years, live in Makanda.