WARSAW — Optimist club members and friends of John Elliott gathered Wednesday morning to honor the longtime community leader who plans to move soon to South Carolina.
Members of the Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club and others honored Elliott — who turned 75 on Wednesday — at the Shrine Building, making it clear how much he has meant to the community.
One of his closest friends, State Rep. Dave Wolkins, presented him with a Sagamore of the Wabash, a distinguished state award from Gov. Eric Holcomb.
Elliott was a longtime banker in Warsaw and retired from 1st Source Bank, but was lauded by many for his countless roles in the community outside of work.
Numerous people mentioned Elliott’s sense of “servant leadership” and his organizational skills that allowed him and others to accomplish so much with the Optimist club and countless community projects.
One speaker said Elliott’s involvement with various groups would take several pages to document.
Elliott was a key supporter of Baker Youth Club and athletics at Grace College and Warsaw Community High School. He also brought to town numerous major college marching bands, including from Penn State and his beloved alma mater, Ohio State University.
He was active politically behind the scenes, helping run many local Republican campaigns over the years.
Wolkins recalled that it was Elliott who walked with city councilman Jeff Plank to the county clerk’s office when he switched his political affiliation from Democratic to Republican and filed to run for mayor.
Mayor Joe Thallmer, an Optimist himself, was one of several people to thank Elliott for his contributions and friendship.
“Everything I’ve done from a city government standpoint, I always knew you were only a phone call away if I screwed up — and typically, I got that call,” Thallemer said, drawing laughs from the crowd.
Thallemer thanked Elliott for his community-minded service.
“Your interests were not self-interest. They were for the community,” Thallemer said.
Several speakers mentioned Elliott’s impact on young people, especially in athletics.
“No one else in this community has done more for the schools and the kids than John,” said Jenny Lucht, a former principal at Warsaw Community High School.
Elliott and his wife, Elaine, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, plan to move to South Carolina to be closer to family.
Elliott spoke briefly after receiving the Sagamore. He said he’s looking forward to spending time with his grandchildren.
“I will miss you all,” Elliott told the crowd. “It’s been a great career — great memories. Thank you.”