Hammett named to Academy of Honor

Published 3:48 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2013

By Michele Gerlach
The Andalusia Star-News

Seth Hammett, LBW Community College president emeritus, joined an elite list of Alabamians Monday when he was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor in a ceremony in the Old House Chamber of the state Capitol.

“This group represents the best of Alabama,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in opening remarks.

“Seth Hammett has been a very dear, close friend of mine for a long time, he said. “He always gave me good advice.”

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Bentley said when he was elected governor, he asked the former Speaker of the House to be part of his team.

“He turned me down three times,” Bentley said.

When Hammett finally agreed to serve as director of the Alabama Development Office, Bentley said, he did groundbreaking work in organizing a strategic economic development plan, Accelerate Alabama.

Fellow 2013 inductee John D. Johns, who made remarks on behalf of the Academy’s new class, said from early in his legislative career, which began in 1978, Hammett showed “charisma, poise and confidence.”

“As speaker, he brought together Republicans and Democrats and allowed all voices to be heard,” Johns said. “Even Alabama and Auburn fans could go in his office and talk football.

“He showed exceptional, sensible leadership. If he were speaker of the House in Washington, or leading the Senate, things would be very different.”

In addition to Johns, who is chief executive officer of Birmingham’s Protective Life Insurance Company, Fournier J. “Boots” Gale III, an attorney and civic leader from Mobile, also was inducted this year. University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban was to be inducted, but deferred to a future year.

Hammett currently works as vice president of business development at PowerSouth. He represented Covington County in the state House of Representatives from 1978 until 2010, and served three terms as Speaker.

While Speaker, he served as president of the National Speakers Conference and chaired the 16-state Southern Legislative Conference.

He is a former president of LBW Community College and was the founder and first president of First National Bank (Now Wells Fargo) of Andalusia.

The Alabama Academy of Honor, established by the state legislature in 1965, recognizes individuals whose services are a credit to the state. Membership is limited to 100 living individuals, and the current roster includes members with a wide range of backgrounds. Current and living governors are included in the Academy, but their numbers don’t county toward the 100-member limit.

Gov. Albert Brewer appointed the 16-member committee to nominate the first class in 1969. Among the nominating committee members was Jake Merrill of Andalusia.