Joe M. Rodgers

Joe M. Rodgers (November 12, 1933 – February 2, 2009) was an American construction company executive and political operative who served as the United States Ambassador to France.

Joe M. Rodgers
United States Ambassador to France
In office
September 20, 1985 – January 8, 1989
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byEvan Griffith Galbraith
Succeeded byWalter Curley
Personal details
BornNovember 12, 1933
Bay Minette, Alabama, U.S.
DiedFebruary 2, 2009 (aged 75)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Spouse(s)Helen Martin "Honey" Rodgers
Alma materUniversity of Alabama

Early life

Rodgers was born on November 12, 1933, in Bay Minette, Alabama, and was raised in Montgomery, Alabama. He attended the University of Alabama, where he was awarded a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and then served for three years in the United States Coast Guard.[1]

Business career

Rodgers had worked as sales manager for Dixie Concrete Pipe and went out on his own, starting a construction firm in 1966. Having been given a ticket and a house share for the 1968 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club, Rodgers ended up sharing a home with Thomas Frist, a doctor from Nashville, Tennessee, who had just started a private hospital company called Hospital Corporation of America. The two built a connection while walking the golf course and Frist offered Rodgers a contract to build a hospital in Erin, Tennessee, for HCA. By 1970, Rodgers had built 19 hospitals for Hospital Corporation of America and had built 200 for the company by 1979, generating $120 million in revenue that year.[1]

His firm took on a project in April 1972 to complete the building of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company's Opryland USA complex which had been scheduled to open on May 19, but had been delayed due to a strike by workers at another construction firm. Rodgers and his subcontractors crossed the picket lines and were able to earn a bonus for completing the project two days early, which was accomplished by working on shifts around the clock. The $50,000 bonus was turned over to local Boy and Girl Scout groups.[1]

Rodgers sold a majority stake in his construction company after a 1977 heart attack and shifted into real estate development. Projects he developed included Vanderbilt Plaza and the Third National Bank building (which has since been renamed the Fifth Third Center), both in downtown Nashville. He started American Constructors in 1979, which built Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and the Wildhorse Saloon.[1]

In 1987, Rodgers was described by The New York Times as "a leading candidate to head the Department of Commerce" to succeed Malcolm Baldrige, Jr., a post that ultimately went to William Verity Jr.[2]

Rodgers was named to serve as chairman and acting CEO of Berlitz International, following the mysterious death of former part-owner Robert Maxwell in 1991. He also served as a director of several major corporations and was active in a number of local civic, charitable and religious organizations.[1]


During the 1976 Republican presidential primaries, Rodgers was an early supporter of Ronald Reagan's unsuccessful effort against President Gerald Ford and was finance chairman for Reagan's Tennessee primary campaign. He served as the Republican National Committee's finance chairman from 1978 to 1980, raising $75 million during his tenure. After Reagan was elected President in 1980, he named Rodgers to serve on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. In 1984, building on his continued efforts raising funds for Republican candidates, he was the finance chief for Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign.[1]

Rogers was fundraising co-chair for Fred Thompson's 2008 presidential campaign bid.[1]

Ambassador to France

In recognition of his efforts, Reagan named him in 1985 to a four-year term as the United States Ambassador to France. Rodgers had never been a diplomat and spoke no French, and spent six hours a day for a four-month period studying the language.[3] Rodgers undertook a fundraising campaign to collect $500,000 to be used towards fixing up the ambassador's residence, raising $100,000 towards this goal by September 1985 after writing to 250 U.S. companies for donations.[4] He and his wife resided in the official residence in Paris, where they would serve GooGoo Clusters, a hometown Nashville delicacy, to their diplomatic guests.[1]

Rodgers accompanied President of France François Mitterrand on a Seine riverboat ride to the Île aux Cygnes where they unveiled a renovated replica of the Statue of Liberty, as part of ceremonies marking the centennial of the French gift to the United States.[5] Rodgers represented the United States at ceremonies on June 6, 1986, to mark the 42nd anniversary of the Normandy Landings.[6]

Mitterrand recognized Rodgers with the rank of Grand Officier of the Legion of Honor.[1]

Personal life and death

Rogers resided in Nashville, Tennessee.[7]

Rodgers died of cancer on February 2, 2009 in Nashville, at age 75.[7] He was survived by his wife, Helen Martin "Honey" Rodgers, to whom he had been married for 52 years, as well as a daughter, a son and eight grandchildren.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Wood, E. Thomas. "Joe M. Rodgers dies at 75",, February 2, 2009. Accessed February 4, 2009.
  2. ^ Rasky, Susan F. "A FRONT-RUNNER FOR COMMERCE POST", The New York Times, August 1, 1987. Accessed February 4, 2009.
  3. ^ via Associated Press. "Joe M. Rodgers",, February 4, 2009. Accessed February 4, 2009.
  4. ^ Clarity, James F.; and Weaver, Warren Jr. "Briefing: Mr. Ambassador", The New York Times, September 145, 1985. Accessed February 4, 2009.
  5. ^ Lewis, Paul. "FRANCE CELEBRATES MLLE. LIBERTE", The New York Times, June 29, 1986. Accessed February 4, 2009.
  6. ^ via Associated press, "D-Day Marked in Normandy", The New York Times, June 7, 1986. Accessed February 4, 2009.
  7. ^ a b "JOE M. RODGERS. U.S. Ambassador to France in '80s". The Los Angeles Times. February 13, 2009. p. B6. Retrieved December 17, 2017 – via (Registration required (help)).

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Evan Griffith Galbraith
U.S. Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
Walter Curley
Bay Minette, Alabama

Bay Minette is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 8,044. The city is the county seat of Baldwin County.

Deaths in February 2009

The following is a list of notable deaths in February 2009.

Entries for each day are listed alphabetically by surname. A typical entry lists information in the following sequence:

Name, age, country of citizenship at birth, subsequent country of citizenship (if applicable), reason for notability, cause of death (if known), and reference.

Evan G. Galbraith

Evan "Van" Griffith Galbraith (July 2, 1928 – January 21, 2008) was the United States Ambassador to France from 1981 to 1985 under Ronald Reagan and the Secretary of Defense Representative to Europe and NATO under Donald Rumsfeld from 2002 to 2007.

Galbraith was born in Toledo, Ohio. He graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in 1946 and was a graduate of Yale University (class of 1950, member of Skull and Bones) and Harvard Law School. Galbraith served on active duty in the Navy from 1953 to 1957, attached to the Central Intelligence Agency. From 1960 to 1961, he was the confidential assistant to the Secretary of Commerce under Dwight Eisenhower. He was a close personal friend and Yale classmate of William F. Buckley, Jr. who died one month after Galbraith.

Prior to his post as Ambassador to France under President Ronald Reagan, Galbraith spent more than twenty years in Europe, primarily as an investment banker. He started his banking career at Morgan Guaranty in Paris selling and designing bonds and later became the Managing Director of Dillon Read in London in 1969. In the 1990s he was an Advisory Director of Morgan Stanley in New York, Chairman of the Board of National Review and a member of the board of the Groupe Lagardère S.A. Paris. Together with Daimler Benz, the Groupe Lagardère S.A. controls EADS (European Aerospace and Defense Systems), Europe's largest defense contractor and principal owner of Airbus. Galbraith also served on several other commercial boards and until 1998, was Chairman of the Board of LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) USA.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appointed Evan G. Galbraith as his representative in Europe and the defense advisor to the U.S. mission to NATO. In making this appointment Rumsfeld said, "I wanted a seasoned, vigorous representative in Europe who will bring experienced leadership to this important mission."

Galbraith was also a member of the Center for Security Policy, Council of Foreign Relations and the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. He was also a member of the board of directors of Club Med Inc.

He was married twice. His first marriage, to Nancy Carothers Burdick, in 1955, ended in divorce in 1964. His second marriage was to Marie "Bootsie" Rockwell in 1964. He had three surviving children, all of his second marriage: Evan Griffith, Christina Marie and John Hamilton; and three grandchildren, Everest Griffith, Eva Quin, and Sofia Christina Galbraith. Two of his children predeceased him. A daughter by his first marriage, Alexandra Galbraith Stearns, died in 2005, and his eldest child by his second marriage, Julie Helene, died at age six in 1972 of a brain tumor. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

List of ambassadors of the United States to France

The United States Ambassador to France is the official representative of the President of the United States to the President of France. The United States has maintained diplomatic relations with France since the American Revolution. Relations were upgraded to the higher rank of Ambassador in 1893. The diplomatic relationship has continued through France's five republics, two empires, and three monarchies. Since 2006 the ambassador to France has also served as the ambassador to Monaco

List of people from Montgomery, Alabama

The city of Montgomery, the capital and second-largest city of Alabama, has been the birthplace and home of these notable individuals.

National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award

The National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award is among the highest offered by the National Football Foundation (NFF). Every year, the NFF & College Football Hall of Fame pays tribute to a select few with awards of excellence for exhibiting superior qualities of scholarship, citizenship and leadership. Additionally, the Foundation also recognizes individuals who demonstrate outstanding support for the NFF and its mission of promoting the game of amateur football. The Distinguished American Award is presented on special occasions when a truly deserving individual emerges, the award honors someone who has applied the character building attributes learned from amateur sport in their business and personal life, exhibiting superior leadership qualities in education, amateur athletics, business and in the community.

The recipient is not limited to a former college player or coach, must be an outstanding person who has maintained a lifetime of interest in the game and who, over a long period of time, has exhibited enviable leadership qualities and made a significant contribution to the betterment of amateur football in the United States.

Turney Stevens

C. Turney Stevens, Jr., (born c. 1950) is the dean emeritus of the College of Business at Lipscomb University, a private Christian university in Nashville, Tennessee.Stevens was himself an alumnus of Lipscomb, graduating in 1972, and he earned an MBA at Vanderbilt University in 1981. He worked as an investment banker for 35 years; he has cited Joe M. Rodgers (for whom he served as president of Rodgers Capital) as a mentor. He also founded several Nashville-based companies including magazine publisher PlusMedia and investment bank Harpeth Capital. Stevens joined the Lipscomb faculty in 2007, after his retirement from Harpeth, and became dean in 2008.As dean, Stevens created the Dean Institute for Corporate Governance and Integrity, founded a student ethics program with the support of the Center for Public Trust, established a lecture series featuring ethical business people, and offered ethics training to local corporate leaders. On the basis of these activities, Ethisphere magazine named him as one of "2009's 100 most influential people in business ethics". In 2014, Stevens moved into an emeritus role, focusing on fundraising for the college.

Walter Curley

Walter Joseph Patrick Curley Jr. (September 17, 1922 – June 2, 2016) was the 57th United States Ambassador to France from 1989 to 1993, and the United States Ambassador to Ireland from 1975 to 1977. Curley was New York City's Commissioner of Public Events and Chief of Protocol from 1973 to 1974, during the administrations of John Lindsay and Abraham Beame.

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Ministers Plenipotentiary
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Minister Plenipotentiary
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