Published on August 1, 2012 by Mary Wimberley  

Longtime Birmingham business executives and civic leaders Andrew Gerow Hodges and William R. Ireland, Sr., will be inducted into the Alabama Men's Hall of Fame next month.  The two Alabamians, both of whom devoted decades to the betterment of others, will be honored during an induction luncheon Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 11:30 a.m. at The Club in Birmingham.

Founded by the Alabama legislature in 1987 and housed in Samford University's Harwell G. Davis Library, the Hall of fame recognizes men "whose lives have impacted the state, the nation and the world."  Honorees must have been deceased for at least two years.

Hodges, who died in 2005 at age 87, was executive vice president of Liberty National Insurance Company (now Torchmark), a compassionate community leader and American hero in World War II.

Ireland, who died in 2009 at age 85, was a senior executive and board member of  Vulcan Materials Company, a keen supporter of many philanthropies and ardent wildlife conservationist.

Hodges, a Samford graduate and longtime member of the school's board of trustees, also was a trustee of the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and a president of Operation New Birmingham. The Geneva, Ala., native held leadership roles with the Salvation Army, Birmingham Kiwanis and Boy Scouts of America, which honored him at local and national levels. As an American Red Cross field director in World War II, his negotiation efforts resulted in the freedom of 149 Allied prisoners of war from German prison camps.  

 Ireland was instrumental in the development and passage of the Forever Wild conservation amendment to the Alabama constitution, considered one of the most significant conservation achievements in the state. The Gadsden, Ala., native was a leader in the Cahaba River Society, the Alabama Wildlife Endowment, Alabama Wildlife Rescue Service and other conservation groups.  A member of several college foundations and boards of trustees and a generous supporter of scholarships and professorships, he also established an endowment that supports the Alabama Governor's School at Samford.

The Birmingham Women's Committee of 100 and the Men's Hall of Fame co-sponsor the annual induction luncheon. 


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.