Merritt inducted into Birmingham Business enterprise Hall of Fame

Judy Merritt served as president of Jefferson Point out Neighborhood School for pretty much 35 years, and her legacy as a chief in the local community continues to consequence in accolades eight several years immediately after her death in 2014.

Merritt, who lived in Chelsea at the time of her demise and whose eyesight led to the opening of Jeff State’s Shelby-Hoover campus in 1993, was 1 of six people to be inducted into the Birmingham Small business Corridor of Fame at an celebration at The Fennec in Birmingham on Aug. 25, a few of whom are now deceased.

Others inducted into the Corridor of Fame have been:

► Kirkwood Balton, Booker T. Washington Insurance policy Co. (deceased)

► Thomas Jernigan, Marathon Corp. (deceased)

► Claude Nielsen, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United

► David Wood II, Wooden Fruitticher Grocery Co.

► John Wooden, Wood Fruitticher Grocery Co.

Guin Robinson, the dean of financial progress for Jeff Condition, nominated Merritt for the Hall of Fame, which was developed by the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham to honor people today who have proven potent management and designed remarkable contributions to the larger Birmingham space.

Robinson explained he was very psyched the Hall of Fame Committee picked Merritt for induction but not shocked.

Merritt was a woman with lots of firsts in her everyday living, he said.

She was the first lady appointed as a two-12 months college president in Alabama (by previous Gov. Fob James in 1979), and in 1993 she turned the initial lady to serve as chair of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

In the early 1980s, she turned the to start with female on the board of administrators for the Bruno’s grocery shop chain, and she followed that in 1993 by turning into the first feminine board member for Energen Corp. She also was the only feminine board member for the SouthTrust banking organization.

“She was a extraordinary specific,” Robinson reported. “What a legacy, what a mark Judy created.”

It was not just that she held these positions that produced her outstanding it is what she did with them, Robinson said.

For starters, the earth of postsecondary education and learning is massive business, he explained.

Merritt experienced the eyesight to extend Jeff State further than Jefferson County’s borders. When she grew to become president at Jeff Point out, there was only just one campus in the northeast element of Birmingham. Less than Merritt’s management the college expanded into Shelby, St. Clair and Chilton counties. More than 5,000 learners attend the Shelby-Hoover campus off Valleydale Street.

Next, Merritt was really smart, Robinson mentioned. “She experienced a person of the most strategic minds of anyone I’ve ever regarded.”

She had an means to recognize alternatives in complications and create a approach to deal with them, which are the same capabilities utilised in organization, Robinson reported. She also experienced an unbelievable capacity to comprehend people’s skills and spot them in positions in which those abilities could ideal be utilized, he said.

It was Merritt who brought Robinson, a previous mayor of Pell Town, to do the job at Jeff Point out in 2006, managing neighborhood and government relations.

Merritt also experienced a enthusiasm for serving other people today, Robinson claimed. “Judy Merritt was servant management in action every single working day,” he reported.

Even although she experienced a doctorate, she disliked getting identified as Dr. and insisted people today refer to her only as “Judy.” And while she appreciated the assumed driving awards she received mainly because they assisted progress the college, she did not like to target on the awards and sent most plaques down a hallway into a storage place, Robinson explained.

Merritt did not have any small children and regarded as the students at Jeff Condition her small children and centered her power on assisting progress the lives of some others, he claimed.

Merritt was born in Jacksonville, Alabama, and was the only daughter of two longtime educators. Her father, Lawrence Miles, was dean of admissions at Jacksonville Point out University. Her mother, Beatrice Davis Miles, was a teacher.

She was a remarkable particular person. What a legacy, what a mark Judy built.


Guin Robinson


Merritt entered the University of Alabama at age 16. She was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and an active leader in campus pursuits, but it was at the college wherever she satisfied Thomas Merritt Jr., who would become her spouse. She would afterwards gain both of those her master’s degree and doctorate from the College of Alabama.

Merritt began her vocation as a counselor of admissions at then Jefferson Condition Junior University in 1965, the opening 12 months of the faculty. She often remarked this was her preferred position for the reason that it authorized her direct interaction with students. She and her husband then moved to Miami, Florida, in which she served as the vice president of university student affairs at Florida Worldwide University.

Following becoming appointed president at Jeff Point out in 1979, she was very energetic in a wide variety of regional and nationwide corporations. She served on the board of directors of the American Affiliation of Community and Junior Colleges and on the executive council of the Fee on Colleges of the Southern Affiliation of Faculties and Colleges. She also served on the board of the Enterprise Council of Alabama and was related with lots of neighborhood and civic organizations.

Given that her dying, the once-a-year Judy M. Merritt 5K Memorial 5K has helped to honor her legacy by furnishing scholarships for pupils in need.

Merritt now is one particular of 131 users of the Birmingham Business Hall of Fame.

Birmingham is arguably the economic motor for the point out of Alabama, reported Honora Gathings, executive director for the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham.

“So a great deal incredible work has been finished here,” Gathings mentioned. “This is a local community that is steeped with so significantly history. We genuinely desired to make positive that those whose backs we now stand on had been remaining honored for their contributions. We hear these tales, and it seriously exhibits us what a tight-knit neighborhood we are in, and how all of our steps have this ripple effect. We don’t comprehend how considerably our steps go in benefiting and producing the life of other men and women superior.”

Here’s a bit additional about the other new inductees this yr:

Balton, born in 1935 in Birmingham, was a previous chairman and CEO of Booker T. Washington Insurance plan Co. and the founder of J&B Health care Supply and J&B Administration and Electrical Supply, both of those named for his spouse, Juanita Balton. Balton gained his bachelor’s degree at Miles Faculty in 1957 and commenced functioning for A. G. Gaston two years later on. He went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration at Samford College in 1970 and rose within just Gaston’s enterprise to manage WENN-FM and develop into chairman and CEO of Gaston’s insurance coverage enterprise ahead of he retired in 2001.

Thomas Jernigan

Jernigan, born in 1928 in Atmore, was the founder and CEO of the Marathon Corp. He grew up on a farm in close proximity to Frisco City in Monroe County and served in the U. S. Air Power for two years in the course of Planet War II ahead of transferring to Birmingham and starting his profession developing playground products. Jernigan launched quite a few firms for the duration of his career, together with Plantation Styles, United Chair Co., Quick Marts and Winston Home furniture. Jernigan was just one of the founding directors of the Central Lender and Trust Co. (formerly Compass Lender and now PNC) and a director of Exceptional Financial institution.

Claude Nielsen

Nielsen, an Evergreen indigenous, earned his bachelor’s diploma in economics from Sewanee: The College of the South in 1973 and his master’s degree from the College of Virginia in 1975. Nielsen joined Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United in 1979 and held a wide range of operational and managerial positions until finally 1991, when he was appointed CEO. He assumed the supplemental position of chairman in 2003. In 2016, he retired as CEO though continuing to serve as chairman. Nielsen served as chairman of the American Beverage Association and The Coca-Cola Students Basis. He also served on the board of governors of The Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Association.

David Wooden II

David Wood II assumed the leadership of Wood Fruitticher, together with his brother, John, at a youthful age soon after the loss of life of their father. At the time, the business produced around $10 million in once-a-year gross sales. They grew the firm the following 38 yrs to $400 million in once-a-year revenue. Wood II is a graduate of Lead Birmingham and in the latest class of Leadership Alabama. He has served the Birmingham Airport Authority, Boy Scouts of The usa and Foods Financial institution of Central Alabama. Given that retirement, he has flown a lot more than 60 flights for the Veterans Airlift Command group that flies wounded veterans to and from hospitals all-around the place for remedies they require.

John Wooden

John Wooden, David’s brother, retired from Wood Fruitticher in 2017. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham and has served in management positions in the Presbyterian Church of The united states. When he is not advising the fourth era of ownership at Wood Fruitticher, he can be found investing time with the fifth era, which consists of 19 grandchildren.