Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame inducted two respected
citizens from political and technological life Tuesday, Sept. 21,
during a luncheon at The Club in Birmingham.
The induction of veteran Alabama Congressman Tom
Bevill of Jasper and technology entrepreneur Mark C. Smith of Huntsville
brings the number of Hall of Fame inductees to 64. Founded by the
Alabama legislature in 1987, the hall recognizes
men “whose lives have impacted the state, the nation and the world.”
Honorees must have been deceased for at least two years.
Plaques honoring Hall of Fame inductees are displayed in Samford University’s Harwell G. Davis Library.
Both of this year’s honorees, noted Hall of Fame
chair James W. Lee, “exemplify the character and accomplishments of the
men we seek to recognize.”
Bevill, who died in 2005, served in the the U.S.
House of Representatives for more than 30 years (1966-1996), becoming
Alabama’s longest-serving congressman. As chairman of the U.S. House
Appropriations subcommittee on Energy and Water
Development, he was known for his influence on many energy and resource
management programs, including the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.
“He loved being in Congress, and understood its workings,” said his daughter, Susan Bevill Livingston.
“His Alabama projects rose from his belief in
using federal funds to improve living standards for Alabamians,” she
said of his strong philosophy about making jobs available and putting
people to work.
A master at building coalitions between
colleagues from both sides of the political aisle, he realized that
getting legislation passed was more important than hewing to party
lines, said Livingston, an attorney in Birmingham. “Dad’s life
was defined not by what he did, but by who he was.”
He was especially proud, she said, of his efforts
to create the Little River Canyon National Preserve in northeast
Alabama. “He believed preservation was important to the state.”
After retiring from Congress, Bevill, an attorney
who had earned his law degree after serving in World War II, returned
to his law practice in Jasper.
The family was also represented at the luncheon
by the honoree’s daughter Patty Bevill Warren and his son Don Bevill.
Granddaughters Elizabeth Livingston and Louisa Warren unveiled his
Smith, who died in 2007, was an entrepreneur,
engineer and philanthropist who created Alabama’s first data
communication company, Universal Data Systems, Inc., in 1969. He later
cofounded ADTRAN, a leading global networking and equipment
provider with more than $480 million in annual revenues.
Longtime ADTRAN associate and friend Thomas R.
Stanton described Smith as one who was “technically capable, a genius,”
but who also “talked with the pace, tone and deliberation of someone who
knew what it took to be successful. There
was no doubt that Mark was a winner.”
Stanton noted that the honoree filled the company
with especially capable people. Smith’s steadfast belief in the
ability of the individual to make decisions, and his dislike for
bureaucratic structure, created an environment, he said,
“where people engaged their hearts and heads everyday for the
betterment of the ADTRAN family.”
Later in his life, Smith became co-founder of
Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnolgy, embracing biotechnology the way
he embraced life, “with both arms and with his big heart,” said
Smith was involved in the Huntsville community
through civic and community organizations ranging from schools, to
museums to the arts, all with the goal of making Huntsville and Alabama a
better place to live, said Stanton, chairman and
CEO of ADTRAN.
Smith’s plaque was unveiled by his widow, Linda Smith, and their children, Clay Smith and Cynthia Smith Hughes.
Also at the luncheon, elementary school student
Rilee White was introduced as winner of the Hall of Fame’s student essay
The contest involved Birmingham area fourth-grade
school students who were invited to write about previous Hall of Fame
inductees. Rilee, now a fifth grader at Vestavia Central Elementary,
wrote her award-winning essay on George Washington
Carver, who was inducted in 1993.
She received a $150 check and a resolution from
the Alabama legislature. Rilee is the daughter of Veronica Henley and
The Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame program is
sponsored by the Women’s Committee of 100 for Birmingham, Inc. Kathryn
Hicks Porter is president.