1991 – 2000

Rotary President 1990 - 1991


As a young 18-year old Phillips High School student, William F. Edmonds won an oratorical contest which was held in Montgomery,  Alabama.  He  was soon invited to speak to our Rotary Club held at the original Tutwiler Hotel. Bill Edmonds was (in the writings of Andrew Kilpatrick, Rotary Club of Birmingham, Legacy of leadership) the “E” in BE&K, a large engineering and construction firm   in Birmingham. Bill Edmonds’ father, Henry M. Edmonds, served as Rotary president in 1924-1925 and, as a result, Henry Goodrich had little difficulty in convincing Edmonds to become a member of our club.  Bill  Edmonds  retired from BE&K in 1989 and  served  as  our  president in 1990-1991. The hallmark of Bill Edmonds’ Rotary year was said to be “doing things quietly and efficiently behind the scenes, seeking little or no credit.” This was Bill Edmonds.

Rotary President 1991 - 1992


Dr. Merrill N. Bradley was the son of Lee C. Bradley, Jr., a partner with the law firm, Bradley Arant Rose & White. Merrill Bradley took a different course        in life than his father by becoming a physician, “maintaining  a  demanding  surgical practice.” Merrill Bradley had  attended  Princeton  and  Columbia  Medical School. “In 1971 he was president of the Birmingham Academy of Medicine.” Merrill’s advice to presidents of Rotary who would follow him was simply: "Be yourself." That is good advice for all.

Rotary President 1992 - 1993


Thomas N. Carruthers had an interest in Rotary which preceded his membership due in part to a high activity level in Rotary on the part of his father who had been Chancellor of the University of the South, at Sewanee, Tennessee. Tom Carruthers was a managing partner in Bradley Arant Rose & White. He was involved with the state (Alabama) tax reform effort and served as a member of Governor Fob James’ Medicaid Task Force in 1997. Tom was also a special consultant to the President of the University of Alabama. With an informal approach  to  presiding  at  Rotary  meetings,  Tom  Carruthers  was   a consummate leader for Rotary. As a graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School, Rotary was well served by Tom Carruthers as  president  in 1992-1993. In 2003 Tom received the club’s Spain-Hickman Award.

Rotary President 1993 - 1994


Hugh J. Morgan, Jr. was born in Nashville, Tennessee, attended Episcopal High School in Virginia and earned a B.A. Degree from Princeton in 1950. Hugh served on active duty as a U.S. Navy officer and then attended Vanderbilt Law  School,  graduating  in  1956.  Initially  Hugh  was with a law firm in Chattanooga, Tennessee prior to joining Southern Natural Gas in Birmingham, where he enjoyed a “stay” of 26 years. Morgan retired in 1987 as Chairman of Southern Natural Gas and Vice-Chairman of the parent company, Sonat, Inc. He then joined the National Bank of Commerce where he served as chairman. Not a bad cover for Hugh’s book and one that matched everything that Hugh got involved with throughout his life. Hugh Morgan was a dedicated leader of Rotary, and was awarded the Spain-Hickman Distinguished  Service  Award.



Rotary President 1994 - 1995


Following Hugh Morgan’s term as president of our club, W.W. French,  III  began his term of 1994-1995. Bill French’s father (William W. French, Jr.) was the leader of our club in 1960-1961; his grandfather, Dr. James Somerville McLester, served in 1938-1939, and later, Bill III’s brother James (Jamie) S. M. French was Birmingham Rotary Club President in 1998-1999.  Bill French attended Princeton as well as Harvard Business School, after which he served in the United States Navy. He was president of Moore-Handley Hardware Company. Bill served his community working with the YMCA, the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, the United  Appeal and the Better Business Bureau. He seemed destined to be a member of  Rotary  with  his business success, his community  position  and  his family  Rotary involvement. He joined  our organization in 1964. He often said he wanted this club to be more than a lunch club, and during his Rotary year, emphasized special involvement and interest in  the  international aspects of Rotary. In Andy Kilpatrick’ book, Rotary Club of Birmingham – Legacy of Leadership, he wrote that, as the new president, “soon French would launch into some of Rotary’s achievements” for the year. For example our club participated in a program to provide wheelchairs to children in India, helped build an extra wing for an Illinois building for a foster mother who helped raise fifty-five children over a period of fifteen years, and supported national efforts to provide wells in a village in the Dominican Republic. Bill French was and is an active asset to our club. Judging from Bill’s book cover, he fits the perfect mold for Rotary leadership.



Rotary President 1995 - 1996


James A. Todd, Jr. was born in Beckley, West Virginia and later   earned   a   mining  engineering  degree  from  West  Virginia  University.  James  Todd  has  had a  long   and successful business career, initially with E. I. Dupont DeNemours &  Company,  Atlas  Powder Company, United Affiliates Company and its subsidiaries, DalTex Corporation and Broken Arrow Coal. He was the owner of Birmingham Bolt Company and CEO of Birmingham Steel Company.

As busy as James Todd was with his business activities, he made time for community service when he joined The Rotary Club of Birmingham. He became president of The Rotary Club of Birmingham in 1995-1996. One of his Rotary accomplishments was personally envisioning and then raising funding for the Rotary Roof Project. The “Roof” project involved providing roof protection for basketball courts at inner-city sport  facilities  used  by  city  youths. It was designated as a safe and lighted environment for the inner-city residents. One Rotary member said of the project, “It really upset him (James Todd) to drive by kids playing or trying to play basketball on open and unlighted courts.” Rotary Roofs were initially built at four housing projects. James Todd has a long list of accomplishments earning him a lasting legacy in the business community and community service.


Rotary President 1996 - 1997


Sheila S. Blair was the first female president of our club. In 1987 she, Katherine M. McTyeire and Dr. Sara Crews Finley became the first women elected to membership in the Birmingham Rotary Club. They were shortly followed by Maryam B. (Mimi) Head. In Andy Kilpatrick’s Rotary history he wrote that Sheila told him, “people may think the  president doesn’t know what’s going on in the audience because of being at the head table.” Sheila stated, “It was quite an experience (to sit) at the head table. I knew who came in late, who left early and who sat with whom.”

During Sheila Blair’s Rotary year she focused on improving attendance levels at meetings, providing good programs and asked the membership to provide their thoughts on ways to improve the club as a whole. The Rotary Roof program went into effect during Sheila Blair’s Rotary term. At the suggestion of  Birmingham  Southern  President  Neal  Berte, Sheila served as executive director of Leadership Birmingham, and later, the Greater Birmingham  Foundation. She was also the first woman to be included on the Regions Bank board. Sheila Blair was named both  Career Woman of the Year and Birmingham’s Most Influential Woman.

Rotary President 1997 - 1998


Hartwell Davis spent his  youth  in  his  home  town  of  Montgomery,  Alabama.  He  later earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Columbia University. After receiving his formal education, Hartwell served in the U.S Navy; after which, he began his business career at Exxon U.S.A. Hartwell Davis  later  became the principal in Metalplate Galvanizing Company and joined our Rotary Club in 1970.

Known as “Mr. Attendance” in terms of Rotary while serving as president in 1997-1998, Hartwell made a push for greater involvement of the membership in Rotary matters especially in the area of attendance at weekly meetings. As a result of his efforts, attendance at the meetings grew from 40% to more than 55%. In his own words, "A few people had gotten out of the Rotary habit and we got them back into the Rotary habit in a pleasant way, while not losing a single member." Hartwell also started his term with a procedural change of having the president sit with the speakers and others at the head table  rather  than  being  separated  by  a  podium.

During Hartwell’s term as president, he supported various Rotary-inspired causes including the support of camps for underprivileged  children,  providing  Christmas  gifts  to  local  boarding houses,  and  continuing the Rotary Roof Program.

Rotary President 1998 - 1999


An equally effective leader of our club, James S. M. French was a member of the quintessence of a Rotary family. Like his brother, W.W. (Bill) French III  (1994-1995), his  father, W.W. French, Jr. (1960-1961) and his grandfather on his mother’s side, Dr. James Somerville McLester (1938-1939), Jamie French also served this club as president. His year was (1998-1999). Jamie has never strayed from  his  enthusiasm and support of Rotary.  It was during Jamie’s term that Susan Jackson became this club’s Executive Director, a positive move for the club for years to come. She had begun her Rotary work after the first six months of Hartwell Davis’s year.

Jamie French was born in Birmingham and later attended Princeton and Harvard Business School and has served on many local boards as well as maintaining a business career at Dunn Construction and Dunn Investment Company. Joining Rotary in 1970, Jamie has often oriented new members in the workings of our club. We are all appreciative of the work that   the French and Dunn families have done for Rotary. The Rotary Library, a central fixture in the Harbert Center, is named the Dunn-French Library.

Rotary President 1999 - 2000


One could have predicted that Donald Sweeney would be an exceptional  president  for  Rotary.  Donald has been accomplished in every endeavor he has been associated with. Shortly after he was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Donald’s family moved to Birmingham. Donald attended Shades Valley High School where he was an All-State basketball player. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Donald earned his undergraduate and  law  degrees  from  the  University  of  Alabama. He  also  attended  Amherst  College. He  is a partner in the law firm of  Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, where he specializes in transportation and labor law and has received national recognition in the field of  education law. In 1990 Sweeney was  named Birmingham Lawyer of the Year.

After joining Rotary in 1988, Donald served in many capacities for the club, becoming president in 1999-2000. He set four main objectives for his Rotary year. From Andrew Kilpatrick’s book, Rotary Club of Birmingham, Legacy of Leadership, “Donald attempted to humanize the introduction at the head table” by “finding something special about the lives and interest of every person introduced.” He wanted to end  his  year having attended every meeting, and he accomplished just that – perfect attendance. Sweeney’s third objective for the year was to recognize past leaders. Donald suggested the initiation of the Spain-Hickman Award program with Billy  Rushton  being  the  first  recipient.  Donald  also  wanted to get as many members as possible involved in Rotary projects. It is perhaps conclusive to say that Donald Sweeney’s enthusiasm for Rotary in part came from the fact that his grandfather, E.T. Hallman, served as Rotary Governor for the State  of Michigan, the state where Donald  and his family have enjoyed many years of summer sailing.

Rotary President 2000 - 2001


Andy Kilpatrick’s write-up on Beverly P. Head, III’s year as Birmingham Rotary president (2000-2001) noted that Bev Head’s special interest and perhaps a major accomplishment of his tenure was boosting Rotary’s international scholarship programs. Bev took special pride in encouraging interest in international scholarships believing that it would be a small step toward world peace. To make the point, Bev remarked, “One highlight of my term was having  Rotary  International  President  Frank  Devlyn  visit  us. With worldwide operations, it’s a special occasion for a single club to receive as a guest an international president.’’ It was widely recognized that for years Bev held the record for attending more Rotary International Conventions than any other member in the Birmingham club. Beverly Head was born in Birmingham and earned his BA degree in economics as well as a law degree from Yale. He was a captain in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Iran. Bev served as CEO of Dyatron Corporation, a computer software company, from 1969-1984. He was with the law firm, Miller, Hamilton, Snider & Odom as well as having the position of president of the Hill Ranch (Gainesville, Alabama) where he raised catfish. Bev was proud to serve as an executive assistant to the  Mayor  of  Birmingham. Like Donald Sweeney, Bev Head also had a passion for sailing.