The Edward Arthur Mellinger Educational Foundation was incorporated in 1959 in accordance with the will of Inez A. Mellinger Hensleigh of Monmouth, Illinois.
Mrs. Hensleigh directed that the Foundation be created in memory of her brother, Edward Arthur Mellinger, a distinguished electrical engineer and a pioneer in the development of telephone communications throughout the world.
She further directed that the Foundation's income be used for educational purposes, including provision of financial assistance for deserving American students to attend accredited schools within the United States.
The resources of the foundation at the time of its incorporation included the entire stock of the Mellinger Investment Company, established by Mr. Mellinger in 1929 and bequeathed to his two sisters at the time of his death. This stock had a value of approximately $5,000,000 at the time of Mrs. Hensleigh's death. In addition, she left to the Foundation the residue of her personal estate in the amount of approximately $1,500,000.
In accordance with Mrs. Hensleigh's wishes the Foundation's income is used to provide scholarship grants for students at the undergraduate level and loans to graduate students. From time to time the Foundation makes additional grants for educational purposes other than scholarships and loans.
During its first forty years the Foundation has awarded scholarships to 12,000 students in the total amount of nearly $20,000,000 and nearly 2,800 graduate students have borrowed $7,000,000. Their repayment record is outstanding.
Edward Arthur Mellinger was born in 1874 near Morning Sun, Iowa, where he attended a one-room country school and graduated from the Morning Sun High School. In 1891, he enrolled at Iowa State College (now University) in Ames, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering.
During his years at Iowa State, Mr. Mellinger excelled in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, including debate, athletics and the college newspaper. In his academic work, he was particularly interested in the science of telephone communications, which was then in its infancy. This interest led to a lifelong association with the telephone industry.
Mr. Mellinger made significant contributions to many phases of the growing telephone industry, serving as a skilled engineer who supervised the development, manufacture and installation of telephone systems in many parts of the world. He was also an effective salesman and spent a portion of his career in this capacity.
In spite of demands placed on him by these responsibilities, Mr. Mellinger also found time to engage in experimental work which resulted in his obtaining 17 industry-related U.S. Patents for equipment which is still in use today.
During the latter part of his career, Mr. Mellinger was increasingly involved with executive duties, first serving as board chairman of the Associated Telephone and Telegraph Company when it was formed in 1925, and as a director of two British telephone companies. He later served as vice-president and director of the Automatic Electric Company.
Shortly before his death in 1933, Mr. Mellinger established the Mellinger Investment Company, which he hoped would ultimately be the source of an endowment for educational purposes. Following the stock market crash of the early 1930s, he concluded there would not be sufficient funding for the foundation he had in mind. He subsequently left what remained of the Mellinger Investment Company to his two sisters, Maude Luther Mehaffey and Inez A. Hensleigh.
Years later, Mrs. Hensleigh, now the owner of all the stock following the death of her sister, recalled her brother's interest in establishing an educational fund. Accordingly, she arranged for the company's assets, plus the residue of her own estate, to be used to create the Edward Arthur Mellinger Educational Foundation, Inc., upon her death.
Mrs. Hensleigh enlisted the assistance of Robert J. Clendenin, Sr., an attorney, and Lloyd C. Stevenson, a certified public accountant. They served as president and secretary treasurer respectively from the date of incorporation until 1981. When Mr. Clendenin retired, Mr. Stevenson succeeded him as president and treasurer. Mr. Clendenin died in 1983, and Mr. Stevenson, who became president emeritus in January of 1986, died in 1992.