´Red' Blount, John Eagan Inducted Into Alabama Men's Hall of Fame
Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2007-09-20
Wynton Malcom "Red" Blount and John Joseph Eagan were inducted into the Alabama Men's Hall of Fame during ceremonies Tuesday, Sept. 18, at The Club in Birmingham.
The two industrialists and philanthropists were cited for their impact on the state, nation and world, and for their belief in showing respect for all people. Plaques honoring the men are housed in the Hall of Fame, located in Samford University's Davis Library.
Blount, a Union Springs native who lived 1921-2002, co-founded Blount Brothers Corporation with his brother, Houston, in 1946. Important government projects and overall business success led to his service as president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. At the time of its acquisition by Lehman Brothers in 1999, Blount, Inc., headquartered in Montgomery, was valued at $500 million.
He is credited with major reform of the U.S. postal system as postmaster general in the cabinet of President Richard Nixon. A generous philanthropist and patron of the arts, he created the 250-acre Blount Cultural Park, which is home to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art and Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
Wynton Blount III noted that his father had the unique ability to display the "common touch" while talking with kings.
"He stood for decency and was tolerant of other people's lives and beliefs," Blount said of his father, a product of the public schools of Bullock County who "was able to see over the horizon."
"Red Blount was a good man who believed man was put here to do good, and he did good," he told the induction luncheon audience.
Eagan, a Georgia native who lived 1870-1924, invested inherited money wisely and used his wealth to sponsor education and health-care programs for the poor. In 1905, in an unusual move for the time, he joined forces with a woman, Charlotte Blair, to found American Cast Iron Pipe Company (ACIPCO) in Birmingham.
A model industrialist, Eagan fostered fair and safe working conditions and other humanitarian reforms. He sought to demonstrate that a business built on the Golden Rule could succeed and benefit all concerned. At his death, he left all his shares of ACIPCO stock in trust for his employees, an act that current ACIPCO president Van Richey noted was "remarkable" for the 1920s.
The company is still run by employees and still operates with the rules set by Eagan, Richey said at the luncheon.
"The company motto is the Golden Rule. Eagan taught us to treat everyone with respect," said Richey, noting the company's low employee turnover rate. The average tenure of workers is 20 years.
A slide show depicting the company's early days referenced a bath house that could be used by all employees. "He believed that in ´God's eyes all are created equal," Richey said of Eagan. "He wanted the children of the workers to be able to greet their fathers at the end of the workday without getting dirty."
The Hall of Fame was founded by the Alabama legislature in 1987. Honorees must have been deceased for two years. Hall board members represent Alabama's seven congressional districts. The Birmingham Women's Committee of 100 sponsors the program.
Dr. Winyss Shepard is president of the Women's Committee of 100. Betty Hawkins is chairman of the Alabama Men's Hall of Fame.
ABOUT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY -- Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 3rd among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,509 students from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.