Belzer Obituary

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F.O. Belzer

The following is an article from a February 1948 newspaper, probably the Indianapolis Star or News, about "Chief" Francis Oliver Belzer passing away. This clipping was found in the scrapbook of C. Otto Janus, a president of the Central Indiana Council.

Funeral Tuesday for Boy Scout 'Chief'

Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Irvington Methodist Church for F. O. Belzer, 79, chief scout executive here for more that a quarter century, who died Sunday in Methodist Hospital.

The Rev. Ralph O. Pearson, pastor of the church, will officiate and members of the Boy Scout Choir will sing. Burial will be in Crown Hill Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Stanley Norton, Hubert Vitz, Delmar H. Wilson, Glen Findley, Gerald Martz and Lloyd Byrne. Members of the board of directors of the Central Indiana Council will be honorary pallbearers.

The family has requested that instead of sending flowers, friends pay their respects to Mr. Belzer by helping send a Scout to camp or by supporting the Boy Scout Band.

Mr. Belzer, known to thousands of Scouts and Scouters as Chief, organized one of the first troops in Indianapolis and was instrumental in the formation of the Central Indiana Council. He saw the movement grow from a few troops of less that 500 total membership to nearly 200 troops with more that 10,000 boys. A life resident of Marion County, Mr. Belzer first became associated with Scouting in 1910 after having taught in the Castleton and Indianapolis public schools. At one time he was principal of School 50. It was in the Spring of 1910 that Mr. Belzer met with a group of Irvington boys to organize Scout Troop 9, sponsored by the Irvington Methodist Church. Under his leadership, it became one of the leading troops in the city. He was president of a Scoutmasters association and helped to organize early Scout camps at Flat Rock, Mt. Nebo and Ft. Benjamin Harrison. It was near the latter that Camp Chank-tun-un-gi was formed in 1918. Chief Belzer spent his boyhood days near Lawrence and spent many leisure hours in the "swimming holes" of Fall Creek along which this reservation was built. In 1914 efforts to form Central Indiana Boy Scout Council had been successful and the first charter was granted in June, 1915. Mr. Belzer was appointed first Scout executive and continued in that capacity until September, 1940, when he retired from active Scout work. Since then he had lived at 320 S. Audubon Rd. He still maintained a keen interest, however, in the Scout program and on numerous occasions in recent years had taken part in activities at Camp Chank-tun-un-gi, his favorite camping site. A lover of horses and a skilled rider, Mr. Belzer organized a saddle club at the Scout camp and took pride in teaching his Scouts the proper methods of handling horses.

In addition to his camping activities, Chief Belzer was an instructor in Scoutmasters training courses, knowing that the lack of trained adult personnel was the one factor which slowed the progress of the Scout movement. He once said: If we had 100 more scoutmasters, we would have 100 new Scout troops tomorrow. In 1933 Mr. Belzer accompanied eight Scouts to the 4th World Scout Jamboree in Budapest. Shortly after World War I he organized a Scout Band and Bugle Corps, out of which grew the prest Boy Scout Band which he directed for many years. Mr. Belzer was a firecrafter, Scout camp group, and a member of the Kiwanis Club, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Masonic Lodge, Irvington Methodist Church and Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity. He served at one time as a member of the Marion County Public Welfare Board.

Survivors include a daughter, Miss Katherine Belzer, an instructor in the University of Louisville, and a nephew, E. C. Belzer, Indianapolis.

Mr. Wilson, past chief council executive, paid high tribute to the "father of Scouting in Indianapolis":

Chief Belzer has been my friend since 1914 when he first befriended me and gave me help. He was recognized as the real father of the Boy Scout movement in Indiana. I shall never forget how courageously he stood by his convictions and was willing to do anything to help a younger brother executive. He devotetd his life to the Boy Scouts of America. He loved boys sincerely and enjoyed his work every day he lived. Our chief built a monument to himself in the lives of people forever.

C. Otto Janus, past president of the Central Indiana Council, paid tribute to Mr. Belzer with these words:

He carried the honor of being the most widely known living representative of the Boy Scouts of America in Indianapolis. He will never be forgotten.