Frank A. and Dorothy W. Zillmer Scholarship Endowed at Southeast



May 26, 2010 – The Frank A. and Dorothy W. Zillmer Scholarship has been endowed through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.

The Foundation received a $200,000 bequest from the Zillmer estate to establish the scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to a student with a minimum 2.5 grade point average, with preference given to students with financial need. First preference will be given to students majoring in history. The University Scholarship Committee will select the recipient.

Frank A. Zillmer, who was born in Chicago in 1914, was the son of Adeline (Eiszner) and Frank Gottlieb Zillmer. Frank A. Zillmer grew up in Morehouse, Mo., and later worked his way through college, graduating from Southeast Missouri State Teachers College (the forerunner to Southeast Missouri State University) in 1936. His brother, Robert, was a 1939 Southeast graduate. Frank Zillmer majored in history and remained a student of that subject his entire life. He especially enjoyed reading American history and biographies of world leaders.

Frank A. Zillmer was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II and served as a gunnery officer on the U.S.S. Franklin, surviving its bombing in 1945. After seven battle stars in the South Pacific, he was honorably discharged as a lieutenant. In 1945, he married Dorothy Smith Williams of Providence, R.I., an artist, and enjoyed a long career at RR Donnelly in Chicago, where he was director of their Creative Group (Mobium). He and Dorothy Zillmer had one son, Wynn, who was disabled. They cared for him at their home in Lake Forest, Ill., until Wynn’s death at age 20. Upon Frank’s retirement in 1980, he and Dorothy moved to Little Compton, R.I., where they were supporters of the arts and the Providence Athenaeum as well as avid gardeners and naturalists.

One of the authors Frank enjoyed was American author Henry David Thoreau, who said, “Be not merely good, be good for something.”

The Zillmers’ friends and family, including Randi Zillmer, Frank Zillmer’s niece and executor of the estate, said they hope this gift will allow some deserving students the opportunity to do just that.  

“Both my dad and my uncle were truly grateful to have been able to attend school in the economic circumstances of the mid-30s,” said Randi Zillmer. “They had no family financial support to speak of, lived in a boarding house, and did whatever work came their way.  They clearly had support from the college community as well.”