Our History

In 1974, Francesca Turner founded the Tony Patiño Fellowship in memory of her son, Antenor Patiño, Jr. The Fellowship program was established in accordance with Tony’s philosophy and often-expressed wish and intention to help his fellow students.

This Fellowship program provides merit awards of  $17,500 per year to qualifying law students at UC College of the Law San Francisco, University of Chicago Law School, and Columbia Law School. A recipient’s Fellowship award is renewable for two subsequent consecutive years if certain requirements are met. A Fellow-Elect will be known as a “Tony Patiño Fellow” upon receipt of two renewals of the Fellowship; bestowal of a Juris Doctor degree by the Fellow-Elect’s law school; and award by the Renewal Committee of the title “Tony Patiño Fellow” at the end of the third year.

The Fellowship seeks to identify law students who will become leaders – in the words of Professor Jerome Hall, people of character and capability – and who will use their law degrees to serve others. Since 1974, the Fellowship program has designated more than 200 graduates of Hastings, Chicago and Columbia as Fellows. Currently, there are 21 Fellows-Elect at these law schools.

The Fellowship was established at UC College of the Law San Francisco in 1974, the law school that Tony Patiño attended at the time of his death. To expand the Fellowship into a national program, the Fellowship was subsequently established at the University of Chicago Law School in 1983 and at the Columbia University School of Law in 1984.

The Fellowship Today

Today there are nearly 200 Tony Patiño Fellows working, leading, and serving in their communities worldwide. The Fellowship’s Board of Directors remains committed to Tony’s wish and Francesca’s vision. Led by Francesca’s long-time confidante and protégé, Chairwoman Emeritus Martha Belcher, and board chair Steve Van Liere, the board has expanded to include members representing all three beneficiary law schools. The goals the board is working to achieve include: strengthening the Fellowship network, providing more mentoring and career assistance to the Fellows-Elect, and raising the Fellowship’s profile in the legal community. Working together, the Fellowship community continues to encourage its members to achieve the aspiration engraved on the Fellowship statuette, to “be a leader of mankind in all that is honorable, just and compassionate.”

Francesca Turner

The Founder (1917 – 1999)

The Founder of the Fellowship, Francesca Turner, was born in Texas, where she started her career working in films and making commercials and trailers, using the stage name of Francesca Sims.

Francesca left Texas and became a top Powers Model, appearing for such accounts as Chesterfield, Beech-Nut, Cream of Wheat, I.J. Fox, Krogers and other major companies. She was chosen as the Chesterfield Girl of the Month in 1940 from a large number of talented models who sought this important honor. In February 1943, Francesca was featured on the cover of Look Magazine in a pictorial tribute to our wartime ally, Great Britain.

Combining modeling with acting, Francesca appeared on Broadway at the Grand Opera House in “Hold on to Your Hats,” the Al Jolson musical comedy. She also appeared in George Jessel’s show “High Kickers” in Hollywood.

During World War II, as a model and member of the Actors Guild, Francesca entertained the troops at camps in the United States. She also visited wounded servicemen in military and naval hospitals, working with the American Theatre Wing Hospital Committee. Francesca was also active in raising funds for the war effort.

From 1974 until her death in 1999, Francesca Turner was employed as a staff writer in the Special Projects unit at Universal Studios. While at Universal, Francesca pioneered the art of editing offensive language and content of movie features to meet broadcast standards for television and the airlines. She was a member of the Writers Guild of America and has several screen credits as a writer to her name.

Many of the Fellows who knew Francesca have said that her focus was on young people. In particular, one Fellow said, “Francesca directed not only her financial resources, but also her very soul, to building this organization and developing and furthering its noble purposes and objectives. She was a visionary and a person determined to leave this world better than she found it. She accomplished this aspiration by creating a network of young leaders who share her values of public service, character, justice, compassion and action.”

Harry Tatelman

The Fellowship’s Stalwart (1911 – 1997)

Harry Tatelman, an executive at Universal Studios, played an integral role in the founding and establishment of the Tony Patiño Fellowship program. Harry was a life-long friend of Francesca Turner and Antenor Patiño, Jr. He served as the Fellowship’s Treasurer and chief fundraiser and as a member of the Board of Directors of The Friends of the Tony Patiño Fellowship, Inc. from 1974 until his death in 1997. Harry Tatelman was also the second largest financial contributor to the Fellowship program.

Fellows who knew Harry agree that Harry took a tremendous interest in young people. One Fellow said of Harry: “He reached out on a personal level to each and every Fellow and Fellow-Elect in the program and he touched the lives of so many of us. If he knew someone needed a job, Harry would make it his responsibility to help that person find a job. If someone had a success, Harry would be there to congratulate and to make that success known to others. If someone was in trouble, Harry was there to help in any way he could.”