New scholarship honors former sheriff

New scholarship honors former sheriff

GILLESPIE (April 12, 2018) – Former Macoupin County Sheriff James “Zirk” Zirkelbach has been honored by his family, who have established a scholarship in his name through the Partnership for Educational Excellence for CUSD 7 in Gillespie.

Zirkelbach’s nine children established the scholarship to honor his achievements in law enforcement in the county. He is perhaps best known for serving as sheriff from 1990-98; previously he was the chief investigator for the county. He also served on the Macoupin County Board for nine years, was instrumental in establishing Macoupin and Montgomery Counties Crime Stoppers, and was active in the statewide Sheriff’s Association.

Zirkelbach’s children said he and his wife, Mary, were “proud and pretty much speechless” when they were informed of the scholarship. His children are daughters Tracy Werner, Joan Cain and Kimberly Burns; and sons Robert, Dennis, James, Mark, Brian and Bradley Zirkelbach.

“We are thrilled at the exemplary generosity of Zirk’s children,” said John Fassero Jr., president and founding member of the Partnership. “It’s quite moving that they wanted him to enjoy this honor and to learn every year the name of the young person assisted by their generosity.”

The Zirkelbach scholarship is the first of several new awards established during the Partnership’s 25th anniversary year. Since 1992, the 501(c)3 educational foundation has remembered or honored more than 70 individuals or groups with scholarships. Awards will be made this year from among 30 extant scholarships.

In 2018, for the third year, the Partnership is offering increased scholarships. While established scholarships will remain at $500, the Partnership will match each award to bring the total to $1,000. The funds for the match will come from the Partnership’s 25th anniversary fund drive. “We are hopeful that our goal of raising $25,000 for 2018 and future matches will be met before the end of the school year,” said Fassero. “The enthusiasm and generosity of new and long-time supporters continues to amaze and gratify us. It’s very humbling to think that every dollar we’ve passed on to classrooms and graduates has been entrusted to us by literally thousands of alums, local business and professional people, and like-minded organizations.”

To date, the Partnership has passed on more than $800,000 to the students of CUSD 7. For more information or to donate, visit or mail to P.O. Box 125, Gillespie, IL 62033.

Former Macoupin County Sheriff James “Zirk” Zirkelbach (center) is flanked by four of his nine children, who established a scholarship in his honor. Pictured, from left, are Joan Cain, Tracy Werner, Zirkelbach, Kim Burns and Dennis Zirkelbach.