John Leander Bjelke, 1916
Ph.B., Denison University
M.A., Columbia University
Citation awarded on Saturday, June 7, 1952
Mayor of Granville, John Leander Bjelke started a fourth career (in politics) after his retirement as alumni secretary of Denison University, a post he served for 25 years. Today he is providing unique political leadership in the revival of democratic concepts of sound government such as the bi-annual town meeting. As Granville mayor, he was heralded with statewide publicity last January for his revival experiments in good government practice at a moment when the nation rocked with news of national political corruption. He has served as head of the Licking County Draft Board since its inception in 1940, and is editor of the Granville Rotary Club news bulletin, a former national commissioner of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, an officer in the local Masonic lodge, and a lay reader in the Episcopal Diocese.
His contributions to higher education in his role as alumni director of Denison are innumerable. He served on the college-high school relations committee of the Ohio College Association for 16 years and assisted in the publication of Looking Toward College, which operated for ten years. He revised a basic transcript of record and application form adopted and still used by all colleges in the state. Denison’s field representative for 23 years, Mr. Bjelke fostered friendship and respect for Denison among the top high schools in the country. He founded Denison’s Alumni Fund in 1930, established alumni clubs in the major cities of the Mid-west and East. He edited the Denison Alumnus with an engaging humor and incisive mind.
From 1919 to 1925, he served as a Baptist missionary in the mountainous section of South China.
Following his graduation from Denison he did YMCA work as a state secretary. He took his M.A. degree from Columbia University.
Before he entered Doane Academy, he was nine years in the potteries in Eastern Ohio as a china decorator.