Rotary International District 6630

2023-2024 AWARD FORMS

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To encourage a reaching out in total service and the "development of resources" on the part of all clubs in District 6630, the A. Z. Baker Service Awards were established in 1978 at the recommendation of then District Governor James P. Banks, and by action of the District Board of Trustees. This award honors our own "Mr. Rotary," A.Z. Baker, from the Rotary Club of Cleveland who served as Rotary International President in 1955-1956. His dedication and commitment to Rotary truly exemplified SERVICE ABOVE SELF and this award was designed to honor his memory by encouraging all clubs in the district to participate in each of the Avenues of Service which are the foundation of club activity.
He was born in 1890 in Whitesboro, Texas, and was named Albert after his father and Zachary after General Zachary Taylor. He attended county schools in Tennessee (the log cabin kind), graduated from Sparta (Tennessee) High School, and then enrolled in the University of Tennessee. He hoped to be an engineer, but the Great Depression dictated that he leave school. He later studied law at the John Marshall Law School of Ohio Northern University and was admitted to legal practice in 1922. He married Grace Anderson and they had twin girls and one son.
Albert Z. (A.Z.) Baker joined the Rotary Club of Cleveland in 1929 and his Rotary classification was "Stockyards," as he was President and General Manager of the Cleveland Union Stockyard Company. He was also President of the American Stockyards Association and Director of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce. He was a Member of the Cleveland Bar Association and Delta Theta Phi, the legal fraternity. He served as a trustee of Baldwin Wallace College and as an Advisory Board member for the Salvation Army. He also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Auto Club and as Director and Deputy Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. In 1939, he was elected a Director; in 1940, Vice President; and in 1941, President of the Rotary Club of Cleveland. In 1942-43, he was elected District Governor of District 158.
At the international level, A. Z. served on many Rotary International committees. In 1946, he was chairman of the R. I. Convention Committee, for the meeting at Atlantic City; in 1948, he was a Director from Zone 2 of R.I. In 1949, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the R.I. Board of Directors and was Chairman of the Aims and Objects Committee. In 1949 and 1950, he was a member of the Convention Committee and a member of the Youth Committee and an alternate member of the Nominating Committee for President of R.I. In these roles, A.Z. made many significant contributions to the development of area conclaves and conferences at which Rotarian leaders from throughout the world discussed future plans for Rotary International as an organization and whereby many policies and procedures were developed under his leadership.
In January of 1955, A. Z. was nominated to be President of Rotary International. Though he had been reluctant to allow his name to be placed in nomination, A. Z. Baker was elected President of Rotary International on June 2, 1955 at the Golden Year Convention held in Chicago.
A.Z. set many records for travel in his Presidential year. The whole world, and not merely the Rotary frontiers, became his work ground. He carried Rotary leadership in person to the clubs of the entire Orient; he traveled more thousands of miles in Africa than any other R.I. President. The infinite good he did for Rotary everywhere with his quiet manner and disarming smile was recorded in media around the entire world. They chronicled the acceleration of A.Z.’s Rotarian visits back and forth across hemispheres and oceans, his record of attendance at international and district conventions, and various other ways in which the imprint of a fine leader becomes a blazed trail.
The theme for President A. Z. Baker's year was "Develop Your Resources." Following his year as President A.Z. served longer than any other Rotarian as a member of The Rotary International Foundation and of the International Council on Legislation. He served four years as Foundation Chairman, far more than any other person previously had. During his chairmanship, The Foundation celebrated its 50th Anniversary in Cleveland in December of 1966.
The World of Rotary was saddened on March 16, 1976, with the passing of A. Z. Baker. He had been a Rotarian for 47 years and had been a tower of strength in giving leadership to Rotary, having held every important post in Rotary at the Club, District, Zone, and International levels.