Feltus gets Steckler Award for unselfish service to race

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 17, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; When dozens of supporters gathered Sunday morning to honor longtime balloon race supporter Charles Feltus, he wasn’t even there.

But no one was quibbling with his choice to vacation out of the country this weekend. After all, it was Feltus’ first fall vacation in 20 years &045; just another sign of his dedication to the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.

And for that dedication, Feltus was honored at a Sunday brunch with the race’s Steckler Award, named after another longtime race supporter, the late Dr. David Steckler.

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The award is given each year to someone who has unselfishly gone beyond the call of duty in volunteering for the event.

&8221;My dad will be both surprised and honored to receive this award,&8220; said Feltus’ son, Charles Feltus Jr., who received the award on behalf of his father.

The senior Feltus’ name will be engraved on plaque that bears Steckler Award winners’ names and is displayed at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

But perhaps the greatest award he received Sunday was the sustained applause and glowing praise of his peers.

&8221;Charles Feltus volunteered himself, his family, his time and energies&8220; to make sure the race was a continued success, said Sally Durkin, herself a longtime organizer of the event.

Feltus sponsored and supported balloon pilot Doc Shannon from the time the event first started in 1986 until last year, when Shannon officially retired and Feltus decided to &8221;retire&8220; with him, giving up sponsoring a balloon.

But if the accolades given to him Sunday are any indication, the work he’s already put into the balloon race will live on even during his retirement.