by Winnie Stortzum, ALC - RLI member and 2022 recipient of the Robert C. Meeks, ALC Award
The REALTORS® Land Institute gives an award each year named in honor of the late Robert “Bob” Meeks, ALC. The ROBERT C. MEEKS DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD is presented to a member who has given long-term commitment and service to fellow institute members, the land profession, and the community. I was honored this year to receive this award and it was especially meaningful to me because I knew and respected Bob Meeks. Since many current members of RLI have never personally known Bob Meeks, I thought I’d share some information and insights about Bob.
Bob was from Sylacauga, Alabama, and was born in 1930 and died unexpectedly in 1998 of a heart attack. One year after his death, RLI honored Bob by establishing the ROBERT C. MEEKS DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD. During Bob's lifetime he developed residential and commercial properties, as well as brokered residential, commercial, and farm/land real estate.
I would describe Bob as a true "Southern Gentleman". Both he and his business-partner wife, Frances, were gracious and kind. Bob touched many lives and had a dramatic impact on the lives of those who knew him and worked with him. Fletcher Majors, RLI member and close friend of Bob Meeks, revealed that Bob “also liked to have fun, and especially enjoyed a good Italian meal with a nice Chianti”. He stressed though that “Bob was a doer. While other people talked about what needed to be done, Bob did what needed to be done”. Bob was a firm believer in education for fellow REALTORS® and taught land education classes on the RLI national level. Fletcher stated that Bob "donated his talents, time and money to improve education and help elect politicians at every level of government that supported the views of REALTORS® and defeat those that threatened our livelihood". Bob was a strong believer in private property rights and did what he could to promote and protect those. Fletcher also mentioned that Bob and Harry Finkleman, the first recipient of RLI's Robert C. Meeks award, started the Land Education Foundation in the 1980s. Bob was a Hall of Fame Donor to the Land Education Foundation (lifetime gifts of $10,000 or more).
Long-term service was a huge part of Bob's life. On the national level, he received his ALC designation and served on various committees, as well as becoming an instructor of national courses. He served on the Board of Directors and was the 1991 RLI national President. He received the LAND REALTOR® OF AMERICA honor in 1992.
Bob was very active in the Alabama Association of REALTORS® (AAR) and his Talladega Board of REALTORS®. He served as the chair of the Alabama REALTORS® Political Action Committee twice and led AAR to become one of the most involved and successful Associations in state and federal governmental and political affairs. Fletcher Majors conveyed that "one year after his death the Alabama Association of REALTORS® honored Bob by establishing the “ROBERT C. MEEKS ARPAC AWARD". (ARPAC stands for the Alabama REALTORS® Political Action Committee). Fletcher stated that "the fact that the Alabama Association of REALTORS® and the REALTORS® Land Institute would each, independently, create their highest award for Political Action and for Distinguished Service speaks volumes about who Bob Meeks was and how far his influence reached.”
Bob also served as President of his local association, the Talladega Board of REALTORS® in central Alabama. Melissa Williams, the Executive Programs Manager of the Alabama REALTORS®, stated that Bob "was beloved and respected by all". Bob was very active in the Alabama Chapter of RLI also, having served as the chapter president for several various years to help keep the chapter vital when times were especially hard for land REALTORS® in the early 1980s. Throughout his lifetime, Bob promoted education and political action for REALTORS®. He truly earned the respect of others by his words and actions, and I was proud to know him.