“Everybody’s child is mine,” this youth club founder said.
The Kiwanis-Felt Boys and Girls Club, 440 South 900 East, traces its beginning to two boys adrift on the streets of downtown Salt Lake City and schoolteacher and businesswoman—Anne Marie Fox Felt. Marie, as she was called, was born in Salt Lake City on July 24, 1900, to Jesse M. Fox and Hanne Sorena Neve Fox. After receiving a teacher’s diploma in kindergarten-primary education from the University of Utah, she taught in the Salt Lake and Granite school districts. On September 2, 1931, she married Joseph H. Felt and eventually became the bookkeeper for J. H. Felt Motor Supply Company at 60 Regent Street.
Children living in this downtown area played in the streets and often rummaged through trash for makeshift toys. In 1938 Marie Felt baked an apple pie for two such boys to gain membership in their “gang,” which soon became known as “Mrs. Felt’s gang.” Other youngsters eagerly joined in the activities she provided, from simple picture coloring to writing and producing a variety of shows for the entertainment of Felt employees.
With help from various groups she opened the Felt Recreation Center at 68 Regent Street in March 1939. The club grew to an enrollment of 700 boys and girls, moved several times to larger quarters, and eventually secured Kiwanis Club sponsorship.
Childless herself, Felt devoted her life to children and to education. “Everybody’s child is mine,” she told a Deseret News reporter in 1965. She was an officer of the Sugar House Boys Club and the Girls Clubs of America, Chapter 9, and a three-term president of the Association for Childhood Education for Utah. For 35 years she served on the LDS Sunday School General Board and wrote many Bible, Book of Mormon, and church history stories for children. She died August 1, 1974.