Pelikan, Paul Memorial Scholarship Fund
For an East Noble High School senior or graduate who has demonstrated great effort to achieve and overcome adversity with preference given to educationally challenged students. Award of $1,000 is spread evenly over two semesters and is applicable toward any post-secondary education. Essay question required on application: “Please describe what educational challenges you have faced and how you have overcome them.” (NCCF)
Donor Fund Story:
On the outside making people laugh was something Paul Pelikan was good at in the 1950s, while a student at Kendallville High School. On the inside were serious struggles that might have included attention deficit disorder (ADD) and dyslexia. Not that anyone knew it. In the 1950s such educational challenges were not yet widely identified, understood and treated, and affected kids were often just known as class clowns.
“During our school days Paul was a fun-loving, kind and gentle person with never a harsh word for others and he was well liked by his classmates,” remembers John Tritch, who was a close friend from elementary school through high school, then off and on in following years.
Paul barely graduated from high school, where it became apparent to classmates and teachers & “that he could not focus while in class or concentrate on his studies,” John said. “I think many of his teachers looked at him as the class cutup who just was not motivated.” The road ahead was never easy for Paul, and he died in December, 2004 from the effects of long-term diabetes.
John now resides in North Carolina with his wife, Suzy, who was also a high school classmate, and they have a 43-year-old son who suffered from ADD. Looking back, the couple came to believe Paul suffered likewise. On top of that, several months before his death Paul revealed for the first time that he always had problems with reading and writing, and getting words scrambled and backward.
Later in 2004, Paul informed the Tritch’s he had made them his sole heirs, and in a letter suggested that a trust for their learning-disabled son be set up with proceeds from the estate.
John responded that long-term care had already been planned for the son, and that although being named as heirs was appreciated it seemed there should be a face-to-face meeting to talk about the decision. Paul agreed but passed away five days prior to the planned meeting.
Deciding the best use of Paul’s estate was to set up a memorial scholarship benefiting students from their hometown school system, the Tritch’s made contact with Kendallville attorney Dan Diggins and with Ann Linson and Peggy Donovan, East Noble High School principal and guidance director respectively.
Steered by them toward the Noble County Community Foundation, the Tritch’s established the Paul Pelikan Memorial Scholarship last December. Each year it will go to an East Noble High School senior or graduate who has demonstrated great effort to achieve and overcome adversity, with preference given to educationally challenged students.
Sometimes charitable legacies are well mapped out, and other times take a course no one can predict. Paul might have vied for academic honors if times had been different.
Instead he is memorialized by a scholarship that will make a difference, and “I think we have done it as he would have liked,” John said. (This story was written by Dave Knopp and posted in the News Sun on April 4, 2006.)