William Reynolds Ireland, Sr.

(1923–2009)
Philanthropist • Conservationist • Businessman

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The service legacy of Gadsden, Ala., native Bill Ireland can be found throughout this state.

After service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Ireland joined Vulcan Materials Company, which he served for almost 40 years, including time as president of two Vulcan subsidiaries and executive vice president of the company's midwest division.

Ireland continued to serve Vulcan as a member of its board of directors after his retirement in 1985, but he devoted much of his postcareer time to civic leadership.

Educated at Marion Military Institute, Auburn University, Birmingham-Southern College and the University of Alabama, and with extensive further service to these institutions, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Samford University, Ireland's educational service alone is worth celebration. He led many development initiatives for Alabama's colleges, and his dedication to these causes can be seen today in the health of those institutions and in individual projects such as the MMI athletics facility that bears his name, and in an endowment for the Alabama Governor's School at Samford University.

Ireland's civic activities included service to Big Brothers of Greater Birmingham, Boy Scouts of America, Alabama Heart Association, Community Chest, United Way and the American Cancer Society, just to name a few. His many national and regional honors include induction into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, Alabama Academy of Honor and Boy Scouts of America's "Heart of an Eagle" Academy.

Alabama's rivers and forests serve as the most tangible evidence of Ireland's love for his home state. The passionate outdoorsman played a key role in development of the state's Forever Wild program and served as a longtime board member and activist in many wildlife organizations, such as the Cahaba River Society, the Alabama Wildlife Endowment and the Alabama Wildlife Rescue Service. He was a passionate leader in the Alabama Wildlife Federation, Gulf Coast Conservation Association, Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society and International Ducks Unlimited.

Bill Ireland's wise counsel, compassion, extraordinary leadership and philanthropy were of inestimable value to Alabama.