1971 – 1980

Rotary President 1971 - 1972

Ray O. Noojin

In 1971-1972, Ray O. Noojin had a year to deal with an unpleasant development in terms of Rotary’s luncheons, especially from a historical standpoint. Rotary of Birmingham had met for over 50 years at several locations in the city, but mainly, and almost exclusively, at the (original) Tutwiler Hotel. During Noojin’s year, the Tutwiler was closed and subsequently razed and our club was forced to relocate. At that point we began a “stretch” at the Daniel Building for our luncheons. It was also during Ray Noojin’s tenure that football legend, Bart Starr, spoke to our club and received a standing ovation after his inspiring presentation. Also during this period, Betty Morrison began a long and effective stint as Executive Secretary of Rotary in Birmingham.

Rotary President 1972 - 1973

Richard S. (Dick) Riley

Following the Rotary Club tenure of Ray Noojin as President, Richard S. (Dick) Riley presided over our organization in 1972-1973. Dick Riley was an Attorney and Partner with Spain, Gillon, Riley and Tate. In the early 1970’s Rotary and Kiwanis met at the Tutwiler Hotel until its closing. It was during Riley’s term that building and dining space was being configured for Rotary’s use in the Daniel Building. It was said that Riley had to conduct business in spite of, and around, stacks of building materials and groups of workmen. It was during Riley’s administration that a fund was started (R&K Banquet Fund) by our club and Kiwanis in a joint effort to logistically arrange for our dining room to be made available for other clubs to utilize.

Also in 1973 Roy D. Hickman was winding down his term of service as Rotary International President. Allen D. Rushton, a Partner with Lange, Simpson, Robinson, and Somerville started meetings (as President) with a welcome and with a joke or anecdote related to his trip to Europe. “Did I tell you about my trip to Europe?” started several meetings and added to a year’s worth of humor for the club. Rushton provided the good humor on a stage of warm fellowship throughout the year. As President of Rotary, Rushton joined several members of his family who had served in that capacity including his grandfather and father. Rushton was a long-time supporter of the YMCA and served as Mayor of Mountain Brook. Future President William E. Hull said of Rushton, “Evidence abounds of his (Rushton’s) enduring commitment to the highest ideals of our club.”

With the help of Rotary Program Chairman Henry V. Graham, Attorney Edward M. (Ed) Friend Jr. and Graham were responsible for “unusually varied and outstanding speakers.” As President of Rotary, Mr. Friend helped arrange for several international leaders to speak to our club, including Past R.I. President George Togasaki (1968-1969). It was during Ed Friend’s administrative year that  “a record number of new members” joined the Rotary Club of Birmingham. President Friend also initiated the “Charity Fund Pledges” program, marking an extension of this club’s services toward worthy causes.

Rotary President 1977 - 1978

Crawford T. Johnson, III

In 1977-1978, Crawford T. Johnson, III, President of Coca-Cola Bottling Company (United) presided at meetings as our president. During  the  year member Frank Taylor was responsible for the speakers, while the Paul Harris Fellowship recognitions were continued from the past year. At the end of Johnson’s year, Past President Ben Brown was elected as a district governor for the year 1977-1978; Crawford Johnson, while our president, had the distinction of claiming the (then) world’s record Rotary commute in conjunction with presiding at our regular Rotary meeting. “One Wednesday morning, after a morning meeting, Crawford Johnson jetted from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Birmingham  by commercial air lines to preside at our meeting and then returned by plane to Duluth, Minnesota that evening.” That had to be a Rotary event record, based on a daily commute – at least up to that time.