Friday, November 18, 2011

John Blue Hill House Dedication

Wednesday, First Lady Dianne Bentley gathered with members of Friends of the Mansion, the Governor's Mansion Authority, and other friends in the community to recognize and honor the Smith Lanier family for their contribution to the state of Alabama. Scott Moreland, President of Friends of the Governor's Mansion spoke first and shared the history of the home and its impact on the community. Mrs. Bentley also contributed by thanking the Lanier family on behalf of the state of Alabama. A formal introduction of the family was given by Ms. Rennie Vainstein which can be read in the following lines:
It has now been some years since I first met Betty & Smith Lanier.  We worked together in a very different capacity from their public life.  I grew to know them as some of the warmest, genuinely thoughtful and gracious people I had ever met.    They exemplify dedication to the practice of generosity in every aspect of their lives from personal to professional, civic, social and spiritual.   They make every effort leave the people they meet and the places they’ve been better off.
Smith is Chairman Emeritus of J. Smith Lanier & Co.  He returned from active duty in the Korean War to purchase his family’s insurance business in West Point.  With Betty at his side, he has led J. Smith Lanier & Co. to be the 6th largest privately owned insurance brokerage firms in the country.  Just this year it was named the “No. 1 Best Place to Work in Insurance.”
Smith has been a founding director of 5 publicly traded companies and in 1998, he was named National Small Business Person of the Year.   Smith is now retired with his nephew, Gaines Lanier at the helm of the family business.
Over the years, the Laniers have been strong advocates for far too many wonderful causes to list, from healthcare and business leadership to civic interests such as this magnificent home we are standing in. They have generously supported education in Alabama at all levels from the founding Springwood School in Lanett, AL to serving Auburn University with extensive time, their talents and gifts.  They are both life members of Auburn Alumni Association and the new Auburn Christian Fellowship building is named for Betty.  In 2000, the University honored Smith with an International Quality of Life Award at the United Nations.
Smith & Betty have 3 married daughters and 8 grandchildren aged 10 to 22 years.
The Lanier family’s generosity of spirit is a blessing to all of us, especially to the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion as well as the people of Alabama. It is with great pleasure that I introduce Smith Lanier and his wife Betty.
The Laniers added their gracious and humble words to the ceremony and spoke of how blessed they feel to be a part of a project like this. They dedicated the home to their grandchildren.

At the conclusion, guests were invited to join a reception in honor of the occassion in the John Blue Hill House.

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