North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Seniors

August 24, 2009

Civitan’s ‘General’ wins major recognition

By Adam Smith

The North Jefferson News




Robert E. Lee was a revered confederate general during the Civil War.

Gardendale native Robert E. Lee is revered as “The General of Recruiting” as the president of the Gardendale Civitan Club.

Lee has led the club for more than 20 years and he’s recruited about 200 people into the organization. “There’s a secret to recruiting for Civitans and I’m one of the few people that knows it,” he said. “The secret is a-s-k. You just have to ask people to join.”

The club, which meets each Monday night at the Gardendale Civic Center, currently has 62 members, about 30 more than when Lee first became a member.

Lee joined the club in 1985 and has since won just about every award the international civic organization has to offer. He has served as the club’s president since 1988, with the exception of a short period of illness.

This summer, Lee was presented with the organization’s highest honor, the International Honor Key.

Lee received the District Honor Key in 1998 and was named Outstanding Civitan in 1999. He also has all four of the club’s international fellows — research center fellows, foundation fellow, junior civitan fellow and freedom fellow.

Despite all of his accomplishments, he remains humble. “It’s a wonderful thing; I’m proud of it,” he said.

Lee, who turns 87 on Sunday, grew up in Ensley. Lee was born in 1922. Civitan International was formed in 1917 in Birmingham and had its first meeting on April 15, 1920, according to the group’s Web site.

Lee said he can remembers walking through Ensley as a child and seeing the familiar Civitan International sign, announcing its Monday meetings. He actually knew two of the club’s charter members, one of which was his father’s Sunday school teacher. “I guess you could say I’ve known Civitans all my life,” he said.

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