1951 – 1960


Rotary – Aiming Its Sights On The 1950’s

Leading this club as it sailed toward the 1950’s were: Richard M. (Dick) Kennedy, a district manager of Alabama Theatres,  Inc.  Richard  Kennedy  was  said to be a showman and his meetings were noted for color and entertaining programs. The president of our Rotary Club in 1947-1948 was James A. (“Jim”) Head, the then-president of James A. Head & Company. During his year as president, Rotary raised $20,000 for equipping a  Rotary  Better  Hearing  Clinic. Jim  Head  kept  his  Rotary membership until his death at age  106.

The “Father” of The Southern Research Institute and Board Chairman of Alabama Power Company, Thomas W. (“Tom”) Martin provided Rotary leadership in the years 1948-1949. He packed the meetings with interesting speakers and promotion of projects for the community good.

Attendance was said to be especially high during M. Rudolph (“Rudy”) Norton's presidency in 1949-1950. A partner in Bradford Norton, he  invited Rotary International President Percy Hodges to visit our club that year. And Hodges accepted.

World events were moving rapidly in 1950-1951 when Merrill E. Pratt became our president. It was said of Pratt that he presided with dignity and  refreshing humor. He asked several members to give programs on their individual businesses. In the year 1950-1951 Sir Oliver Franks spoke to our club. A later successor to Lord Halifax as British Ambassador  to  the  United  States,  Franks was described as "one of the  founders  of  the  post-war  world."  Lord  Halifax  had spoken to our club in the Rotary year of 1942-1943.

On the national “Rotary” scene Rotary founder Paul Harris died in January of 1947. A writer, Paul Harris’s last book, My Road to Rotary, was published independently  and  sold  through  Kroch’s  Bookstores  in  Chicago,  Rotary’s  home town. Also during  this  period,  Rotary  International,  after  having members participate  in  the  start-up  of  the  United Nations, fostered support  for the organization throughout the world.



The Korean War Years Of The Rotary Club


Historians agree that the official time line for the Korean War is 1950-1953; although tensions in the region gradually escalated before that,  finally  resulting  in an  invasion into South Korea by North Korea in June of 1950.

Back in our Rotary Club during those years events overseas were closely followed as the club carried on with its work. In the Rotary year 1951-1952, J.D. “Jack” McSpadden, the Vice-President of Liberty National Life Insurance  Company, ably guided this club through the war years of 1951 through 1952 and was said to have earned the esteem and affection of the entire membership.

Colonel William J. (Bill) Rushton, President Of Protective Life Insurance Company, was the first  son  of  a  former  president  of  Birmingham's  Rotary  Club to serve  as  president  of  our  organization.  The  Rotary  year  led  by Colonel Rushton (1952-1953) was complete with strong programs, intellectual repartee, and a revival of real intra club interest.

The stalemate on the Korean Peninsula from 1951 to July of 1953 ended with the signing of a final armistice agreement in July of 1953. As the Korean leaders continued to insist that they won the war,  our  Rotary  leaders disregarded that boastful talk and turned a deaf  ear  to  the  North  Koreans  while  continuing  their  community work.

During the national Recession of 1953, Robert C. (Bob) Crumbaugh served as our president. It  was  during  Crumbaugh’s  year  that  ads  in  the  club  bulletin  for  local Birmingham companies were permanently  discontinued.

Amasa G. (Mac) Smith followed Crumbaugh as the President of Birmingham’s Rotary Club. He was the manager of Chicago Bridge and  Iron. During his year several special programs took  place  reflecting  on  Rotary’s Golden Anniversary.

Leading our club into the middle 1950’s was John A. Hand, Executive Vice President of The First National Bank of Birmingham.  Many  of  the  programs  given during Hand’s year (1955-1956) were from representatives from  other  cities and from foreign countries. The rest of the 1950’s  were to  be  times  of great prosperity for our club and the country as a whole, with the exception of 1958’s short-term recession.


Our Leaders in the Mid to Late 1950’s

As the Korean War came to an end, there was a period  of  great  prosperity for Americans. With the exception of 1958’s short-term recession, America, and for that matter Rotary, thrived  during the  period  of  the mid to  late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

During this period, there was a pattern of effective Rotary leadership  which included the leadership of Herbert E. (“Herb”) Smith Jr. in 1956-1957. Herbert Smith was president of the Vulcan Rivet and Bolt Corporation, a member of Birmingham’s Rotary Club, and later served as Rotary District Governor. A highlight of Smith’s administration was a  presentation  by  Rotary members  of the  first  series  of  educational  television  programs  given  on  the subject  of civic clubs in general. Also during Herb’s administration there was a civic club combined meeting and inspection of Cosby-Hodges Milling Company,  "delightfully  reminiscent  of  the 'Rotary'  idea  of early years."

Lewis F. (“Lew”) Jeffers followed Herb Smith as president of the Birmingham Rotary Club in 1957-1958. Jeffers was president of Hayes Aircraft Corporation. It was during Jeffers’ term that our club celebrated  its  45th birthday. Also during Jeffers’ term, Roy Hickman was selected by Rotary to be Chairman of the Annual Convention of Rotary International in Dallas, Texas. It

was at the Dallas Rotary  International meeting that the famed Indian Springs  Glee Club entertained for the group. It was also during Lewis Jeffers’  year  that the nasty 1958 national recession occurred.

After Jeffers, a minister took the helm of our club. Edward V. (“Ed”) Ramage, D.D., Minister of First Presbyterian Church led our club during 1958-1959 with effective leadership, the  strength  of  love  of  the  ministry,  and  the  brilliant interpretive teaching of a preacher. That ‘’things always went right’’ attested to his ability as an organizer and as a presiding officer.