Letter: The Gift of Sally Zellers

Sally Zellers, who lead Safe Streets and NET Reach, was remembered for her impact in Topeka neighborhoods. She “acted fiercely for her community,” mayor-elect Michelle De La Isla said Tuesday. (2013 file photo/The Capital-Journal)

“The gift of Sally Zellers”


When I left my beloved Topeka for other opportunities in 2002, Sally Zellers gave me an elegant desk clock with an engraving: “Thanks for your gift of time.” It is on my desk as I write this.

In truth, it was Sally Zellers who was the real gift – to me, to this newspaper and to this community.

I was privileged to have met Sally in the Leadership Topeka program in 1997, and when we expanded the Capital-Journal editorial board to include members chosen from the community, I instantly thought of her.

It was one of the smartest, best moves I’ve ever made.

Despite her time-consuming good works with crime-fighting, neighborhood organizing, Safe Streets and more – she was even honored with a preservation award by Historic Topeka Inc. in 1999 – Sally never failed to come to our editorial board meetings prepared and full of ideas for editorials to make her community and world better.

She read the newspaper front to back. She knew what was happening on the streets and behind the headlines. And she was earnestly interested in trading thoughts and opinions on how things should be. In short, she set the standard for what an editorial board member should be. In doing so, she humbled the newspaper pros in her midst.

But Sally was even more than that.

In the years since leaving Topeka, I’ve made something of a study of the waning art of civics and citizenship. And I can tell you without reservation that Sally Zellers was the absolute epitome of the ideal citizen. She was determined to leave this city better than she found it.

And she did. How fitting that such a giving soul was called home on the day most associated with giving: Christmas.

Like many of you, I was elevated by her presence and am diminished by her absence. To paraphrase Dickens, Sally Zellers was as good a friend, as good a colleague, and as good a woman as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town or borough, in the good old world.




Letter: Work of Robert Bugg inspirational

The celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day stirs our emotions. In the darkest days of racism and oppression, common people found... Read more

Letter: Trump’s stability should be called into question

If President Trump is so very stable, why do so many think he should be evaluated not just for a physical exam... Read more

Letter: Lowering of the president by his critic amusing

It’s not surprising that Hillary Clinton’s sore-losing supporters, reacting like futile school-yard bullies, have determined that President Trump is in dire need... Read more

Letter: Lessons can be shared from Kansas Lottery distribution

The beginning of the second semester is the time I give my math students a lesson on the lottery to learn about... Read more