Active members and alumni of the International Sigma Chi Fraternity met March 29 in the Palms Resort in Destin to honor the first person in the Florida Panhandle to receive the Significant Sig Award, the fraternityís highest award for professional service and civic leadership.
Destin resident Elvin C. Bell, a former mayor of Fresno, who served 16 years in elected office in California, and who is a USAF retired colonel after 31 years of military service, joins a distinguished list of Sigma Chi alumni who have been selected for the prestigious award. Only about eight alumni out of the fraternityís nearly 400,000 members are selected annually for the citation. Bell is the first person from Northwest Florida to receive the honor.
Bell is a graduate of California State University, Fresno where he received a bachelorís degree in journalism and a masterís degree in public administration. He also has a law degree from LaSalle Law School in Chicago, and a Ph.D in business administration from California Coast University, Santa Ana.
He helped form and charter the Sigma Chi Fraternity chapter at West Florida University in Pensacola.
During his military career, Bell commanded seven different units, served three assignments in the White House including senior presidential advisor status during the June 1973 Nixon-Brezhnev Summit Conference, conducted intelligence missions during the Cold War era of the 1970s into Poland, Czechoslovakia and Russia, and served on the faculty of the National War College in Washington, D.C.
Bell is the author of 10 books and his current book, ďThe Event Makers Iíve Known,Ē is approaching best-seller status. Proceeds from all of his books go to Bellís Central High School Alumni Scholarship Fund in Fresno to help needy and worthy seniors go to college.
He is a lay leader in the Destin United Methodist Church where he serves on the Staff and Parish Relations Committee and chairs the Military Affairs Group.
Other Sigma Chi alumni who received the award in previous years include actor John Wayne, Sen. Barry Goldwater, hotel leader Bill Marriott, quarterback Drew Brees, coach Mike Ditka, actor Tom Selleck, coach Urban Meyer and Andy Rooney of CBS fame.