Service Throughout the World: The Zonta Way of Life

This was the theme of Past International President, Eleanor Jammal, during her 1974-1976 biennium, and throughout her life. On Sunday, 28 July, at age 93, Eleanor passed away in Ashtabula, Ohio.

Eleanor joined Zonta in 1954 and quickly put her skills and passion into action. She was president of her club from 1958-1960 and served on her district board from 1962-1966. Soon after, she joined the International Board, serving from 1970-1976.

She tirelessly gave to her community, including service to the Children Services Board of Ashtabula County, the Ashtabula County Medical Center and Foundation Board, the Glenbeigh Hospital, Hiram College, the Partnership for Education in Ashtabula County, the Mother of Sorrows Finance Council and, of course, Zonta International.

Her contributions have been amply acknowledged. In 1979, she was inducted into the Ohio Women Hall of Fame. She received the Cross Pro Pontifice Et Ecclesia and Ashtabula County Children Service “Above and Beyond” Awards in 2000, the Best of County President’s Award in 2001, and, in 2006, the Ashtabula Area College Committee Outstanding Community Service Award.

This past May, Eleanor was awarded a commemorative pin for her contributions to the Endowment Fund. The pin was presented by Past District 5 Governor and Centennial Anniversary Endowment Campaign regional representative Rae Arnold on behalf of President Susanne von Bassewitz and the Endowment Committee. Rae recalls walking into the room where Eleanor sat at the head of the table like she was about to call a meeting of the board.

“After a toast to Eleanor, we talked about Zonta, how we got into Zonta, our clubs, and leadership and lots of Zonta memories,” said Rae. “PIP Eleanor was amazing. Had a great sense of humor and at times had nuggets of wisdom in her conversation. We stand on the shoulders of Zontians like PIP Eleanor.”

Of the outstanding events during her biennium as International President, Eleanor singled out the Declaration of the United Nations International Women’s Year in 1975, which was followed by The United Nations Decade for Women, inaugurated at the conclusion of the World Conference on International Women’s Year held in Mexico City from 19 June - 1 July 1975. The World Plan of Action was adopted by the 133 governments represented and was to be implemented during the United Nations Decade for Women. Eleanor described this experience:

“Many Zontians were part of their Governments’ Delegations, while others attended the tribune for NGOs which ran concurrently with government meetings. These meetings were filled with excitement, exchange of ideas, needs and desires of women who wished to take a more active role in the policies that would determine improved literacy, vocational training, continuing education, needs of rural women, equality in voting, legal rights and equality in pay. It was exciting and challenging to be a part of this history-making event.” (Source, Wilma Swantz)

Eleanor presided over Zonta’s first international convention held outside North America in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1976. Until 2008, Eleanor was the only president of both Zonta International and the Zonta International Foundation. She also served as Chairman of Zonta’s pioneering project to eradicate violence against women. She reached 65 years of membership in Zonta, the longest length of membership for District 5.

With Eleanor’s passing, the entire Zonta International community lost a dedicated leader who contributed greatly to Zonta’s success as president of Zonta International and Zonta International Foundation and in her more than six decades of active membership. She truly made a difference for women and girls and will continue to hold a special place in the hearts of all those who had the privilege to know her.

Val Sarah, Past International President, Centennial Anniversary Committee member contributed.

Images from left to right: Eleanor Jammal meets U.S. President Gerald Ford in the White House Oval Office, May 1975. Eleanor Jammal (center) with Zontians at the United Nations International Women's Year Conference in Mexico City, 1975. Eleanor Jammal with Past District 5 Governor and Centennial Anniversary Endowment Campaign regional representative Rae Arnold and District 5 Governor Margot Hoffman, May 2019.