Grover Smith Lifetime Achievement Award

    The Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA) Grover Smith Lifetime Achievement Award is the organization’s highest honor. It was established to recognize a dedicated practitioner whose life has been one of distinguished service to the public relations profession and PRCA. Recipients have demonstrated the highest and most meritorious contributions to the improvement, promotion, development, and progress of public relations throughout their careers. This award is presented to individuals who have devoted 25 or more years of service to the field of public relations. 

    The award is given the discretion of the PRCA State board of directors and does not have to be awarded annually. A panel of three accredited public relations professionals in good standing with PRCA will review the nominations.

    In 2003, Grover Cleveland Smith of the Montgomery Chapter became the very first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award named in his honor. Since then, there have been only four other recipients:

    2012 Carol Mann of the Mobile Chapter      

    2011 George Winters APR of the North Alabama Chapter  

    2009 Hank Schmidt of the Montgomery Chapter                

    2007 Suzanne Fornaro APR of the Mobile Chapter

    PRCA's Grover Lifetime Achievement Award is not the same as SPRF's "Grovers." That nickname refers to certain SPRF oldtimers who were contemporaries of Grover Smith and made dependable appearances at SPRF conferences throughout the region.


    Who Was Grover C. Smith?

    grover smith head shot

    Born: Louisville, Kentucky & raised in Birmingham, Alabama

    Married: 54 Years to Sarah "Ruthie" Smith

    Children: Mitchell Anthony, MiaLena & Marqueta

    Died: 2005, Panama City, Florida

     "Grover C. Smith gets more done asleep than most people do awake," quoted Wayne Greenhaw of Montgomery, Alabama, former editor of the Alabama Magazine. "He's a friend and a loyal Alabamian to boot."

    For a number of years Smith was press secretary to US Senator John Sparkman. In that capacity, he was well known among the journalists in Washington DC and across the nation.

    He returned to Alabama after the Korean War and attended the University of Alabama where he was editor of the Crimson-White campus newspaper. After graduation, he became editor of a weekly, the Tuscaloosa County Times, and then departmental editor of the Tuscaloosa News.

    In 1955, Mr. Smith went to Washington. He arrived in time to become chief clerk to the US Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. In that position he wrote press releases for the chairman, Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, and also composed most of Senator Hill's speeches.

    In 1957, Smith was named press secretary to Senator Sparkman, with whom he worked until 1979, when he became press consultant to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, writing speeches and lobbying Congress in Washington.

    A man who was always filled with the latest stories on what was happening in the hallway of Congress - up on the latest gossip about Alabamians in Washington - Grover Smith did much to bring you the best in Alabama while working at Alabama magazine.

    At the time of his death in 2005, he resided in Panama City, Florida, where he was the marketing consultant for First American Corporation, First American Retirement Communities, and First American Health Services, focusing on the companies' work with nursing and retirement homes in Tennessee and South Carolina.

    An expert knowledgeable in Alabama politics, the state's history, and its personalities, Smith wrote "Remember When...” giving us a nostalgic look at events of the past, accompanied by photographs that put us on the spot when the event actually took place. He also wrote a "Where Are They Now" column which located some of our friends and kept us up to date on what they are doing these days.

    Ed Mullins, Chair for the Department of Journalism of the University of Alabama, and lifetime friend had this to say about Grover, "He was by far one of the most universally liked and respected individuals of our time. His manner was one of complete graciousness, his integrity unparalleled and was an individual whom I am proud to say would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. Over the twenty years I worked with Grover in various capacities ranging critiquing and writing short stories to planning University functions such as Homecoming Receptions, Installations to the University of Alabama Hall of Fame and many "Art of Communication" conferences. At the time PRCA established the Grover C. Smith Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, Grover was the first recipient. He could not accept in person due to health issues.

    A close friend had this to say about him on that occasion: “Grover is indeed a ‘hell-of-a’ Public Relations Practitioner but it is my opinion that if you scratch his skin, you will find printer's ink in his veins! PRCA is to be commended for naming this award after one of the hardest working individuals to ever grace this fair state."