2001 – 2010

Rotary President 2001 - 2002


Sidney W. (‘Sid’) Smyer Jr.’s father, Sid Smyer, Sr., was an attorney and president (director) of Birmingham Reality Company. He was also a state legislator, and the leader who created the Senior Citizens Committee which negotiated a slow-down, and eventually, an end to the mass civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham in the early 1960’s. Sidney W. Smyer, Sr. was also a member of Birmingham’s Rotary Club, joining the organization in 1960.

Sid Smyer, Jr., joined our club in 1965 and served as our president in 2001-2002. Sid   was known and applauded for his promotion of ‘charitable gift giving’ on the part of the membership to advance Rotary causes. Smyer  “came  to  bat”  with  his  own  large  contribution to Rotary, a contribution that was both considerable and well served the international club. That gesture earned him a special plaque, which was placed on the wall in the top floor of the Evanston, Illinois Rotary International headquarters. In Sid Smyer’s own words when speaking of his father’s interest in Rotary, “With him in mind I was fortunate enough to make a significant contribution to the Rotary Trust Fund.”

At the time of Smyer’s term as president, most of our members were Paul Harris Fellows. On the last day of Sid Smyer’s term as president of our Rotary club, from the podium, he mixed his own “straight up” gin martini and toasted the Rotary membership. We owe a toast to Syd Smyer for a job well done and to having a genuine long time interest in Rotary.

Rotary President 2002 - 2003


It was said (in Andy Kilpatrick’s book, Rotary Club of Birmingham, Legacy of Leadership) that William E. Hull achieved his three major objectives in his term as Rotary president (2002-2003). First, Hull “energized a collaborative effort to get Rotary and other Birmingham clubs involved with the Harbert Center” to collect funding which would go to renovations of the building. Secondly, his book, The Four Way Test, was completed and was to be ultimately published in 2004. The book focuses on the core values of the historical and present Rotary movement and has served as Rotary’s ethical guide for more than half the clubs’ life. Hull was instrumental in making our club, at the time, the second highest contributing Rotary club  to  the polio programs. Born in Birmingham, William E. Hull earned graduate degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He  also  served  as  a  pastor  at  First  Baptist  Church  in Shreveport, Louisiana and eventually served as Samford University’s Provost and Research Professor.

Rotary President 2003 - 2004

Charles A. Collat, Sr.

Today marks the annual occasion of saying goodbye and thank you to one president and welcome to the next. Today, President Charles wraps up this Rotary year and next week, Eddie Miller will preside over the 2004-2005 year in the Rotary Club of Birmingham. Past President Bill Hull left a thought provoking question that Charles endeavored to answer- If the Rotary Club of Birmingham disappeared today, what would the community miss?

Summarizing President Charles’ year, several descriptive words are useful: energized, visionary, motivating, unrelenting, cheerful, respectful, steady, dependable, sophisticated, grateful, graceful, and dedicated. There are many others, but these will do. No one who attended a meeting can doubt his dedication not only to this club, but to another worthy institution “just down the road”-The Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. Choosing to appreciate guest speakers with a braille book was just one indication of his thoughtful, graceful gestures that continued throughout the year.

As one board member put it, President Charles employed several sophisticated business tactics in Rotary this year. Embarking on a 5-year Strategic Plan, which had the full support of the board, President Charles called on fellow Rotarian Brent Peinhardt’s skills. The project was stated in his original set of goals, set out on the first Wednesday in July, 2003, but no one realized how beneficial this activity would become. The club has a set of plans that includes a vision and mission statement and identifies those ingredients that are vital to sustaining a strong club. He also began a series of Town Hall meetings and Focus Groups to engage the full participation of all club members. Such meetings were employed in the strategic planning sessions and again in the determination of a signature project for the club. The desire for stronger impact in the community came out of the strategic plan and the necessary funding for such a thing led to the growth of the Rotary Club of Birmingham Foundation. Again, President Charles called on experienced Rotarians who has successful results in fundraising-Brenda Hackney and her team raised the one million dollars as the first year’s start in a 5-year campaign. These funds were raised through the gifts of six corporate gifts and approximately fifty individual gifts and one codicil (you will hear more about this later). A tremendous thank you to all who made leadership gifts and to Elmer Harris who was invaluable in the fundraising efforts as well as the overall organization needed for a growing foundation.

Last week, members heard two presentations on the signature project-the PreSchool Learning Initiative. Russell Cunningham chaired the committees, who met more than all other committees combined, to identify which project would be most suited to our goals. The program will prepare four-year-olds for school. Studies conclude with impressive data that children who start school unprepared to learn never catch up. Addressing the woeful education problems in Alabama, the Rotary Club of Birmingham is a stepping to the plate, filling one gap, an important gap.

One of the first directives of the growing foundation was to sponsor a scholarship. Katrina Price, a new graduate of Woodlawn is the first recipient of the Rotary Club of Birmingham Foundation Scholarship/Southtrust directed funds. Katrina hopes to major in sports medicine. President Charles worked with Leslie Carlisle and Ellyn Grady to establish the scholarship-developing an application and moving all the way through the specifics of what the scholarship will provide.

With help from Frank Young, this club shared Rotary with younger generations. The establishment of a brand new Rotaract club has proven to be a terrific thing. Over sixty young adults between 23 and 28 years old meet to grow in leadership. That club will join us at today’s meeting. And, earlier this month, a RYLA program (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) teamed this club, the Rotaract Club, the vice squad from the Birmingham Police Department, Chief Annetta Nunn and Kermit Kendrick to teach the “Littles” in the Big Brother/Big Sister program how to make good decisions.

Three principals from the Birmingham City Schools were recognized and received cash awards of $5,000 each to use in their schools. Fifteen teachers who work in the city schools were recognized for their devotion to excellence in education. And, together with APTV, we celebrated the achievements of six high school students across the state as Alabama’s Young Heroes. Nancy Wagnon was crucial to the success of the program as was the fabulous group of Rotarians who worked hard on the selection of students.

Norm Davis led the way to an email version of the RotaryGram, which is going to over 300 Birmingham Rotarians.

Throughout the year, President Charles motivated committee chairpeople and the Vice Presidents, saying this is not an “either or” solution, it is an “and” situation, With that in mind, the club continued long established programs and projects-annual giving to the Rotary International Foundation and Polio Eradication was high-approx. $150,000; ringing the bells for Salvation Army produced approximately $30,000; the residents of four boarding homes (80-100 men and women) received new hats, gloves, underwear, and consumables; we hosted a marvelous team from Taiwan and sent one of our own, Wil Brown, as team leader to Taiwan through the Group Study Exchange Program; we saw the return of one scholar-Christina Long from St. Andrews (again, thank you to Leslie who was Christina’s club sponsor) and the selection of another scholar sponsored by this club-Anna Donaldson (Ralph Smith is her club sponsor) ; we selected Allen Rushton as the 2004 recipient of the Spain Hickman Distinguished Service Award; 80 members were recognized as Paul Harris Fellows; six members attended the district conference; four members attended the international convention; we collected 150 pairs of eyeglasses for SOSH; and we had one of the best rosters of guest speakers in club history, thanks to David Pittman and his team.

So many things were accomplished that there is not enough space to write them, but even as the last week of the year was closing in, President Charles kept on going. As of now, he is working with Tom Carruthers, Tom Corts, Victor Hanson, but mostly Bill Hull, to publish something that should please the entire Rotary world. Past President Bill Hull’s lectures on Rotary’s Four Way Test will be printed in a booklet form. Every Rotarian in this club will have on and the publication will be made available to all other Rotarians at a very small charge. The idea was so well received that two past presidents volunteered to underwrite the expense.

Before the necessary closing of this thank you, it is also important to note that President Charles paid close attention to the club service, thanks to Hatton Smith and his team. Monthly reports indicated an increase in attendance. The club experienced a net growth in membership. Finances are in good shape, with the year growth ending within .5% of budget. Several fun fellowship activities provided fun times with one another and the membership development committee, chaired by Richard Yeilding took and innovative approach to seeking out professional and corporate leaders.

Following President Charles’ unrelenting, cheerful, gentle prodding that is not “either or” but an “and” situation, the club can consider another member an “Energizer Bunny.” Scotty McCallum in not the only one.

Many, many thanks President Charles and many, many thanks to the terrific officers and directors of the Rotary Club of Birmingham.

Rotary President 2004 - 2005

Carl E. “Eddie” Miller, III.

Another outstanding Rotary leader was Carl E. “Eddie” Miller, III. From Andrew Kilpatrick’s book, Rotary Club of Birmingham Legacy  of Leadership,  the author states  that Miller’s term "was an action-packed year." Rotary celebrated its 100th birthday on February 23, 2005 with former President William Hull introducing former President  James  Head,  himself  then  100  years  old.  Eddie  Miller  was  a  graduate  of  Mountain

Brook High School; then attended Samford University, where he was part of the football program for the school. He went on to join Bodine, Inc., an office supply company, where he worked with his father who bought the company in 1972. Eddie eventually became president of the company.  Eddie  joined  Rotary  in  1980  and  successfully  achieved  one of his goals – the raising of funds for the Big  Brother/Big  Sister  program.  Eddie Miller was known as a multi-faceted club leader who made a big impact on the community through his individual giving and his Rotary work.



Every Rotary Club celebrated Rotary’s Centennial year in their own way. Certainly, the celebration in Chicago held on June 18th, 2005 was a very  distinctive   and   impressive  event.  Rotary   International’s   100th  year   Chicago convention was where the red carpet was rolled out for approximately 42,000 convention registrants representing 161 countries from around the world. Shades Valley Rotarian and Rotary International President, Glenn Estess, presided over many of the convention’s activities. A record attendance in Chicago by Birmingham Rotary members was noted by all. The 100-year recognition date of the formation of  Rotary  (International)  was officially February  23rd,   2005  (the club was founded on  February  23rd, 1905).

Our (Birmingham) club’s centennial celebration was planned for a date closer to the actual 100-year milestone than the international convention. There was a countdown in the local RotaryGrams leading up to the 2005 100-year milestone date. While it was announced each week that the greatest celebration in Rotary’s history would take place in Chicago, our club also advertised prior to our event, as the RotaryGrams reminded members of our upcoming celebration in Birmingham.  The   Birmingham  Rotary  Centennial   Dinner   was   held  Saturday, February 12th, 2005 at The Harbert Center. It too was a memorable event. During the year each of our newsletters would  also  include  a  “Did  You  Know?”  feature involving Rotary facts. Also there were articles on prominent international Rotarians included in the  weekly  notices. Fernando  Belaurde  Terry,  President  of Peru; Emilio Pucci of the Florence, Italy Rotary Club and Charles R. Walgreen (Walgreens’s Drug Stores) of Chicago, were all given attention  in  the  newsletters.

On   February   23rd,   2005,   our   Birmingham  Club  once   again  honored Rotary. Mr. Jack Guynn, CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, spoke to the club and in the announcement of his talk in the RotaryGram, it noted the special date  by  saying,  “This is Centennial  Week in the Rotary world. It was on February 23rd, 1905 that Paul Harris first met with three friends, and from that meeting and ones that followed, has come the oldest, largest and most prestigious non-government  service  organization  in  the  world.”



Not only did our  club  celebrate Rotary  International’s 100-Year  birthday  by sending a record number of members to that year’s Chicago Rotary Convention, we also undertook several projects here in Birmingham. In addition we conducted our own celebration for Rotary International’s 100 years’ celebration. Our event was  held  on  February  12th,  2005  with  a  centennial  dinner  at  the  Harbert Center. (It should be noted that in 2005 Rotary was actually in its 101st year, but  a birthday is a birthday, however you look at it).

The centennial year fell in the terms of both Carl E. “Eddie” Miller, III and James F. “Jim” Hughey, Jr. Eddie Miller stepped to the podium  at  his  first  meeting of 2004-2005 and received a standing ovation. The tradition  of  a  standing ovation for a president’s first meeting of the year is a long-time one for the Birmingham Rotary Club and other clubs. The ovation is in recognition of the time and the effort a new president will have to commit to his job. Certainly, Eddie’s year was special and he devoted the time and effort in a most effective way.

Rotary International President Glenn Estess met with Eddie Miller and Jim Hughey (and others) in Skokie, Illinois in August. President  Glenn  gave  participants a brief overview of Rotary around the world. Jim and Eddie also spoke with Glenn Estess concerning the upcoming project at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The project held at the Botanical Gardens was stationed in the Japanese Gardens. Work to revitalize the area took place in November of 2004. About a dozen Birmingham Rotary Club members and members from the Shades Valley Rotary Club arrived at The Gardens on November 13, gloved and ready to work. After a tour of the Hulsey Woods, the Rotarians proceeded to plant more than 30 plants in the area. They also installed a rock walkway leading to and from the Japanese Ceremonial Bell and Bell Tower. At the club's June 15th, 2005 meeting, visiting Rotarians from the Osaka-Central Rotary Club visited our club on their way to the national convention in Chicago and dedicated the Japanese Ceremonial Bell to the Botanical Gardens and to the Shades Valley Rotary Club.  The  bell  and tower were a gift from several clubs in southeastern Japan in honor of RI President Glenn Estess.

Rotary President 2005 - 2006


James F. “Jim” Hughey, Jr. was welcomed as the Rotary Club’s (of Birmingham) president on July 6th,  2005.  Born  in  Jacksonville,  Florida, Jim  Hughey attended  the  University  of  Alabama, the University of Alabama School of Law and NYU School of Law. Jim accomplished much during his Rotary term of 2005-2006 while displaying his  good  sense  of  humor  when  making  announcements, responding to guest speakers, describing various projects, making introductions at the head table and in  all  of  his  club  activities.  Of  notable  interest,  the  club  continued  to  support the Rotary International Foundation by contributing $100,000 to aid in the Foundation’s international work. (Thanks to member Bill  Ratliff,  an  additional  $100,000  was  contributed  through   a   special   gift   to   the   RIF   designated   for   polio eradication).

Jim  began  his  year  incorporating  the  club’s  strategic  plan  into   active   missions.   “Service above  Self”  had  been  adopted  as  Rotary  International’s  motto  and  Jim  Hughey  took the motto to heart. During this period the club supported various efforts  in the  Czech  Republic  made by fellow Rotarian Bill Cabaniss who was serving as  U.S. Ambassador.  Jim and  his wife, Jan, and a delegation from  the  club traveled to the Czech Republic in support of Bill Cabaniss.  Also  at  the beginning of his term Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast with intense velocity, causing extreme damage to New Orleans and to the Southern U.S. coast. Jim, George Wheelock and a  committee made a list  of  ways  to  support  the  hurricane  victims. One of the efforts was to provide funding  for the rebuilding of a children’s library in Long Beach, Mississippi.  President  Jim  and  fellow  Rotarian Richard Yeilding helped to get Andy Kilpatrick’s Rotary booklet, “Legacy of Leadership” published. These comments on Jim’s year only brush across the canvas of all of the accomplishments and the leadership that Jim provided this club in his presidential year. One could describe his leadership as the catalyst to motivate and care for those needing help and assistance.

Rotary President 2006 - 2007


Following Jim’s year, Russell M. Cunningham III, took his place at the Rotary podium. As was the case in the previous year, another trip was taken to Prague. This time those traveling were also     a delegation of Rotary members. The group met with Bill and Catherine Cabaniss just before they were to complete their Czech post work in Prague and return to Birmingham. President Russell accomplished much during his time at the helm of our club, as he had in  his  business  and  civic  work. A quote by Thomas Jefferson best describes Russell’s Rotary  year  of  2006-2007:  “May  I  never get too busy in my own  affairs  that  I  fail  to  respond to the needs of others with kindness  and compassion.” Russell had indeed been busy. He served as a Deacon in his church. Russell also served as president of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce and worked  with  the  Cahaba Benefits Administrators and Resource Management Services, Inc. He also had served as president  of  Birmingham  Reality.  This year’s  Signature   Project  was The Early  Learning  Initiative, a  project  that  President  Russell  said,  “has  gained  momentum  and  is  beginning  to  chart   success  and meaning in the lives of a few young children.”

Rotary President 2007 - 2008


It was said that Herbert A. Sklenar, who took the Rotary helm in 2007-2008, spent countless hours learning all he could about both The Rotary Club of Birmingham Foundation and The Rotary International Foundation. Herb was the first in his family to attend college and became an outstanding student and athlete, playing basketball for The University of Nebraska  in Omaha. His accomplishments there paved the way  for  an  MBA  degree  at  Harvard  Business School.

During 2006-2009, Herb Sklenar was retired as an executive with Vulcan Materials. The company appreciated his contributions to such a degree that it named a massive cargo ship after him.

In terms of Rotary participation,  Herb  was  a  leader  and  was  instrumental  in  bringing speakers in from Vulcan Materials to speak to the club. The first speaker of Sklenar’s year was not a member of the Vulcan team, but Coach Nick Saban, who spoke to the club on July 11,  2007.  During  President  Sklenar’s  Rotary  year  Rotaract  sponsored  a  mayoral  forum, where mayoral candidates were  invited  to  the  meeting  held  at  WorkPlay  downtown.

The Rotary Club of Birmingham Foundation, led  by Chairman Allen Rushton, met August 15th to review grant requests. The club showed its support for President Herb by providing a special President Herb insert placed in a Rotary mailing.

Rotary President 2008 - 2009


The club was admirably led by Charles William Jones in 2008-2009. Rotary International’s 100th convention was held  in  Birmingham,  England  (sister  city  to Birmingham, Alabama). From June 21st-24th Bill Jones and Walker Jones, among other local Rotarians, attended the historic event. President Bill’s outstanding service and leadership provided a depth of meaning to the Rotary Club of Birmingham. The fact is that Bill Jones has excelled at every endeavor he has been involved with. As president of Rotary, Bill reviewed    (by committee) the club’s strategic plan to be able to gauge the stages of the club’s progress relative to its goals. He was especially interested in increasing broader membership participation and ownership. President Bill was successful in term of his goals with a measured increase in membership attendance, with more support for international projects (of Rotary International) and through advancement of the club’s Preschool Learning Initiative. Bill Jones had the ability to harmonize all the elements of a large club. He handled his job with  a  calm,  steady commitment and professionalism while, at the same time, leading the country’s largest metals processing company, O’Neal Industries. Finally, it should be noted that Bill’s father-in-law, Crawford T. Johnson, III, had been president of our club in 1976-1977.


Rotary President 2009 - 2010


To Hatton Smith, it is easy to always be enthusiastic and to extend an armful of energy to any endeavor. Perhaps it  is the caffeine (Royal Cup Coffee). Hatton’s family has been in the coffee business for decades. William E. Smith purchased the 54-year old Batterton Coffee Company and the Royal Cup brand (referred to in early years as a  "royal cup of coffee") in 1950.

Hatton’s natural enthusiasm and passion for positive fellowship was evident in his actions while serving as president of our Rotary Club in 2009-2010. President Hatton would greet each member or guest each week as they exited the Harbert Center escalator entering the weekly meetings. This proved to make a difference in the overall tone of each weekly meeting. Hatton’s “DID YOU KNOW?” and “SERVICE MOMENT” facts allowed each of our members to learn more about their fellow Rotarians.

During Hatton’s year, and with the help of Kennon Walthall  and  Charles  Collat,  Jr, there were multiple fellowship events, perhaps more than  ever  in  our  history.  These events included a  Rotary/Rotaract Wine Dinner at The Club, a musical program,  an offsite meeting at Sloss Furnace, a tour of Old Car Heaven and a special birthday celebration for our most senior member at the time – James A. Head. Also during Hatton’s Rotary year there was a special interaction with the Rotaract Club of Birmingham. In 2009-2010 there was also a heavy emphasis on vocational service. President Hatton, with the leadership of Vice-President of International Services Edgar Marx, successfully  raised  the funding  needed   to   provide   mammography machines to women in Sri  Lanka.

Wonderful programs filled the year under the leadership of Whit DeBardeleben. During the Rotary Large Club Conference, chaired by  Richard  Yielding, more than 60  club member volunteers and more than 50 Rotaract member  volunteers  helped  with the programing and served as greeters to the 150 Rotarians and Executive Directors visiting from all over North America. Television journalist and political analyst, Juan Williams, was the keynote speaker. Hatton made sure that the visitors were shown Southern hospitality, arranging for tours of our city.

During President Hatton's year the Rotary International Foundation was supported in the tradition of this  club with approximately$100,000  contributed  to polio eradication, clean water, health and peace initiatives and ambassadorial scholarships. Hatton lead us through a great year, filled with enthusiasm and much dedicated work, and it was a result of more than just the caffeine; it was Hatton at his best.

Rotary President 2010 - 2011


When Charles (Charlie) D. Perry, Jr. planned for his Rotary year as president, he spoke of not taking    on new projects, merely strengthening the programs that were already in place. This seemed like a good plan initially; however his year as president (2010-2011) was to be a very unusual year for our club and the city of Birmingham.

It was April 27th, 2011 when a monstrous and violent EF4 multiple–vortex tornado devastated neighborhoods in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. It so happened that the Rotary Club was meeting the same day that the tornados arrived (late in the afternoon). Although late in his year as president, Charlie Perry immediately found a new calling for his term; there was much our club could and would do for the victims of the storm.

Charlie and other club members spoke with experts in our community and government officials about the best way to serve our neighbors in trouble. Jim Hughey, The Chairman of The Rotary Club of Birmingham Foundation, led the decision making process regarding allocations; while Albert (Al) Folcher coordinated the club’s role in the planning  effort and execution,  and garnered gifts from at least 30 local companies and cultural entities. Volunteers  were asked for help and some of the contributed funding was processed through the Red Cross. The Hands of Alabama (United Way) was in place also to utilize our volunteers and our contributions of funding were partially applied to the clean-up process. Rotary Club of Birmingham sponsored a summer camp, Camp South Hampton (in Pratt City), making it possible for 200 students ages 5-13  to  have  a  safe,  fun  learning experience with positive supervising of their summer activities. Rotary Club of Birmingham established an account – RCB Foundation Tornado Relief Fund – to fill some of the needs of the victims resulting from the disaster.

It was said that Charlie was the right man at the right time offering his professional manner, generous humor, sincere kindness and steady attention to club functions. It  was  also  said  that  he  performed  his duties (and more) always with an enduring smile. During President’s Charlie’s year (in addition to reacting to the tornados) he began shifting the Group Study Exchange to a vocational exchange program of the Rotary International Foundation. Charlie represented the membership of our club at district events, helped the club obtain approximately $100,000 for the Rotary Foundation, assisted in programs for providing wheelchairs in Haiti, and provided financial assistance through Children Resources for preschoolers to attend the Pre-K programs. Under the direction of Rob Couch, wonderful programs with many great personal stories entertained and further educated our members. The club offered a Rotary trip to Italy and there was a growing interest on the part of the club in cultural events and the Arts. This was the year we mourned the passing of 106-year old and former club president James A. Head Sr.  Jim Head had been a member of Birmingham’s Rotary Club since  1942 and served as president in 1947-1948.


President Charlie also formed a committee to address what needed to be accomplished for this club’s 100th year celebration. He also formed a history committee. During President Charlie Perry’s year the countdown to 2013 officially began. On March, 9th, 2011 it was announced that “there are 707 days until the RCB’s most extraordinary milestone” It was in 2011 that a core committee of Rotarians began the multi-year planning effort for the club’s 100th anniversary. Besides President  Charlie,  President-Elect  Katherine  J.  Nielsen and Whit DeBardeleben had major involvement in the project. Many plans and ideas had to be reviewed for  possible implementation for our club’s 100th celebration.