Joseph Kellman – 1920-2010
Joseph Kellman was born on January 7, 1920, and grew up in the North Lawndale community area of Chicago. In the 9th grade, Joe was forced to drop out of school to work in his father’s glass shop. After his father’s death, he and his brother Morrie assumed ownership of the glass business until they dissolved their partnership in 1950. Over the next 45 years, the business grew into The Globe Group, the nation’s largest privately owned auto glass replacement company.
He vowed never to forget his early beginnings, and he committed himself to serving youth and their families in North Lawndale. Because of Joe’s interest in the sport of boxing, he founded the Archie Moore Boxing Gym in 1961 at 1512 South Pulaski in North Lawndale as an after-school boxing club for boys. Shortly after opening the gym, Joe realized that sports alone could not change the direction of a young person’s life. He was often heard saying, “sports are a lure, not a cure.” Boxing, while positive in its focus on discipline and physical skills development, did little to improve long-term life outcomes for youth in the community.
In the mid 1960s, Joe, with the help of long-time friend and entertainer Buddy Hackett, transitioned the Archie Moore Boxing Gym into the Better Boys Foundation (BBF). BBF grew into a multi-faceted youth development agency through the creation and delivery of innovative programming that adapted and evolved to meet the needs of the North Lawndale community.
Even during times of great racial conflicts in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the community showed its trust in Joe’s commitment to North Lawndale by electing him president of the Greater North Lawndale Conservation Commission. Joe also fostered strategic fundraising alliances with area businesses that supported well-known events such as the NFL Players Association Mackey Awards Dinner.
Today, the Better Boys Foundation has been renamed BBF Family Services, and serves over 400 families each year through holistic, community-based human services. At BBF, people of all ages have individualized access to six program and service areas: Community Engagement, Education, Employment Services, Family Services, Health & Wellness, and Youth Services. These coordinated program and service areas combat poverty, low educational attainment, chronic disease, criminal activity, and trauma.
Joe’s work has been recognized nationwide and earned him feature coverage in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Wall Street Journal, Ebony Magazine, Fortune Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, the CBS Evening News and ABC’s 20/20. His numerous awards and recognitions include an honorary PhD from National Lewis University, the first Socially Responsible Entrepreneur of the Year Award given by Merrill Lynch, Parent Magazine’s Raoul Wallenberg Award, the National Glass Association’s Community Service Award, Loyola University’s Civic Award, and the American Red Cross Hero Award. In addition, he served on numerous charitable boards, community commissions, and business associations, including the Illinois Racing Board, Special Children’s Charities, Business and Professional People in the Public Interest, and the National Glass Association/Auto Glass Industry Council.
Joe Kellman was a titan of the Chicago business community and a lifelong advocate for children and families in the North Lawndale area. He died peacefully on Thursday, January 7, 2010, at his home in Texas on his 90th birthday, surrounded by his loving wife, LouAnne, and his family.
Joe lived a long and fulfilling life that he shared fully with his friends, family, and those in need of a helping hand. He will be remembered always as a man of exceptional integrity who was committed to equity of opportunity for all people.