We are sad to inform the Baylor community that William R. Ireland, Sr. '41 passed away Thursday, March 5. His funeral will take place Monday, March 9, 1 p.m., at St. Luke's Episcipal Church in Mountain Brook, Ala. Visititation is Sunday, March 8, 5 - 7 p.m., at John Ridout's Funeral Parlor, 2116 University Blvd. , Birmingham, Ala. 35233.
A generous supporter of numerous Baylor programs and initiatives, Bill served tirelessly as a trustee from from 1973 to 1990, and was named a trustee emeritus in 2003. The Ireland Studio Arts Center was named in honor of the Ireland family in 1998.
Born in Gadsden on December 3, 1923 , Ireland attended Baylor, Marion Military Institute, Auburn University, Birmingham Southern College, and the University of Alabama. In 1943 at the age of 20, Ireland joined the U.S. Navy. After his discharge in 1946, he joined Vulcan Materials and embarked on a career that would span four decades. During his career, he served in various executive positions, including president of two Vulcan subsidiaries, executive vice president of the Midwest Division, and manager of Community Relations. He also served on the Board of Directors for 29 years.
Ireland was involved in a wide range of charitable and educational causes, and his community board memberships included the American Cancer Society, United Way, Boy Scouts of America, Alabama Sheriffs' Boys and Girls Ranches, and Big Brothers of Greater Birmingham. Ireland supported the University of Alabama at Birmingham, serving as board member and president of the Lurleen Wallace Memorial Foundation; as board member of the Supporters Group, Comprehensive Cancer Center; as co-chairman of the UAB Capital Fund Drive, Phase II; and as a member of the President's Advisory Committee and the President's Development Advisory Committee. He also served as a member of the Auburn University Foundation Board; as a member of Auburn University's Advisory Council, College of Mathematics and Sciences; and as a trustee and former chairman of the Board of Trustees of Marion Military Institute.
An ardent outdoorsman, Ireland devoted much of his time to the conservation of Alabama's resources. He was instrumental in the development of "Forever Wild" and served on the Governor's Committee for the "Forever Wild" amendment. He served as state chairman of the Southern Environmental Law Center's Campaign for Environmental Future, as a member of the Cahaba River Society Advisory Council and the Alabama Wildlife Rescue Service Advisory Board, and as a board member and past president of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.
Ireland was recognized by dozens of organizations and was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Alabama Division, National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame's Distinguished American Award (1981); Alabama Broadcasters Association's Citizen of the Year award (1981); Arthritis Foundation's Humanitarian of the Year award (1991); Walter L. Mims Lifetime Achievement Award [for Wildlife Conservation] (1994); Ducks Unlimited Marsh Project award (1995) – named in his honor in 1998; National Society of Fundraising Executives' Philanthropist of the Year (1999); and the Women's Committee of 100's Citizen of the Year (2006). He was inducted into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame as "Distinguished Alabama Sportsman" in 2000; and he was honored in 2000 by the National Conference for Community and Justice. He received Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham Southern, and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Auburn University.
Bill is survived by his wife Fay; their five sons: Charles "Barney" Ireland, III '68; John Ireland, Sr.; Kelly Ireland '73; William "Bill" Ireland, Jr. 75; and the late Scott Ireland. They have thirteen grandchildren, including three who currently attend Baylor: Glenn '14; Andrew '09, and Beau '09.