Metro-East News

‘Mr. Belleville,’ Wayne Schlosser, dies at 84

Wayne Schlosser, who started Belleville's first Neighborhood Watch group in 1983, speaks during a meeting at Belleville City Hall.
Wayne Schlosser, who started Belleville's first Neighborhood Watch group in 1983, speaks during a meeting at Belleville City Hall. News-Democrat file photo

Wayne Schlosser, long known as Belleville’s most energetic and dedicated booster, has died. He was 84.

“We had known that he had been sick for a while,” said John Lengerman, executive director of the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce. “He dropped out of the chamber’s ambassador group, which he had been a part of for many, many years, about a year ago. He was involved in a lot of great things at the chamber. We always knew him as ‘Mr. Belleville.’”

Schlosser, who died Wednesday, was a longtime advertising executive until he retired in 1996. Schlosser knew how to promote, Lengerman said. After his retirement, he put his skills to work raising money for local charity programs.

With busy schedules and a complicated world pulling people in different directions, Lengerman said he’s not sure the chamber will see a volunteer as dedicated as Schlosser again.

“I’m not sure anyone can replace Wayne,” Lengerman said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think they make them like that anymore.”

Schlosser’s legacy with the chamber is his effort to create the Commitment to Community Award, which is given quarterly.

“He was one of the truly great folks in this town,” Lengerman said. “He truly loved Belleville.”

Successful Rotary Club Foundation grant programs conducted under Schlosser included: Children’s Health Fair Day 2001; Healthy Kids Day at the YMCA Camp 2003; Free Children’s Immunizations 2005; Free Infant and Children’s Immunizations 2010; purchase of teaching equipment for two elementary schools in 2011 and Free Back-to-School Immunizations 2012.

In addition to his Chamber of Commerce work, Schlosser spent three decades as a leader in the Rotary Club.

He was past president of the St. Clair County West Rotary and was named Rotarian of the Year four times. In 2012 he received the Rotary’s top honor, the Service Above Self Award. He also received a Presidential Service Award for 4,000 hours of volunteer community service from President George W. Bush.

Sue Reilmann, president of the St. Clair County West Rotary Club, said she remembers Schlosser for his cheery smile and endless enthusiasm.

“He was Mr. Belleville,” Reilmann said. “He truly was. And always had a hug and a smile for you. Always.”

Schlosser also was a force in organizing neighborhood watch programs, earning awards from the National Sheriffs Association and USA on Watch in 2011 for nearly 30 years of organizing neighborhood watch groups in the area.

Schlosser graduated from Belleville Township High School in 1949, and graduated in 1958 from the Washington University Art & Design School

He worked for Gardner Advertising in St. Louis, designing for clients such as Anheuser-Busch, Ralston Purina, Pet Milk and Jack Daniels. He designed campaigns and corporate identity programs and donated his public relations talents to more than 55 agencies and organizations in the metro-east and St. Louis.