Tennessee Society of St. Louis’ One Hundred Nineteenth Annual Banquet

The Tennessee Society of St. Louis held its One Hundred Nineteenth Annual Banquet Saturday, January 11, 2013 at the St. Louis Woman’s Club. The formal evening began with cocktails at 6:00 PM followed by the dinner and program at 7:00 PM. Tennessee Society president Charles H.W. Burch presided over the evening.

A series of traditional toasts included Richard A. Russell’s to The Great State of Tennessee; Martin W. Moore’s to the 7th President of the United States, Andrew Jackson; and Myron K. Peck IV to the Magnificent and Beautiful Ladies of Tennessee.

The Guest of Honor and Speaker, The Honorable Ronald L. Ramsey, Lieutenant Governor, State of Tennessee, has built a reputation as the leading voice for economic growth in the General Assembly.

Ramsey, the first Republican Senate Speaker in 140 years, has been named “The Best Lawmaker for Business in Tennessee” by Business Tennessee magazine for his passing of pro-growth policy to improve the state’s business climate.

A small business owner himself, Ramsey believes job growth must remain the top priority for state government. Ramsey started his own surveying company just three years after graduation from East Tennessee State University with a degree in industrial technology in 1978. His business has since grown to a real estate and auction company-Ron Ramsey and Associates, a well-respected land company in Upper East Tennessee.

Ramsey was elected by the First District of Sullivan County to serve two terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives and, in 1996,, won election to the State Senate, where he currently represents Tennessee Senate District 4, encompassing Johnson and Sullivan Counties as well as a portion of Carter County. As the Senate’s leading Republican, Ramsey engineered an historic GOP takeover of the chamber and was elected Speaker of the Senate and Lieutenant Governor in 2007.

He is the first GOP Senate Speaker in Tennessee in 140 years and the first from Sullivan County in over 100 years. In the 2008 elections, which saw Republicans suffer major losses across the country, Ramsey led Tennessee Republicans to a gain of three Senate seats and a solid five seat majority. Lt. Governor Ramsey became the longest-serving Republican Senate Speaker in Tennessee history in 2009. After leading Senate Republicans to an unprecedented 26 to 7 supermajority in the 2012 elections, Lt. Governor Ramsey was elected to his fourth term as Speaker of the Senate in 2013.

Following his talk, guests danced to the sounds of Trilogy, back by popular demand. They played the “Tennessee Waltz”, “Rocky Top”, and other favorites.

The Tennessee Society of St. Louis comprises one of the oldest State Societies in America, certainly the “Mother State Society of St. Louis”. One By-Law of the Society provides that an annual banquet should occur in celebration of Andrew Jackson Day, commemorating the Battle of New Orleans, on the eighth of January of each year, or if that date should fall on Sunday, then on a date near that time.

Andrew Jackson was born in 1767, in the most humble of surroundings. Nothing in his environment indicated that he ever would rise above the level of mediocrity. And yet, by the time of his death he had, through the glory of his achievements, caused his name to be written high in the list of the world’s immortals.

One of the framers of Tennessee’s first constitution, member of the Federal House of Representatives, United States Senator, Judge of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, Major-General in the United States Army, and seventh President of the United States, he is considered Tennessee’s most illustrious son, and Tennesseans will never cease to honor and revere his memory.

Early in November, 1895, thirty or forty prominent ex-Tennesseans, then living in St. Louis, met at the old Southern Hotel for the purpose of organizing a Tennessee Society in St. Louis. A committee was appointed to draft the Constitution and By-Laws. The first general meeting was then held at the Planters Hotel on December 7, 1895, at which time the committee made its report and the Constitution and By-Laws were adopted. The first officers elected consisted of Henry W. Bond, president; Jerome Hill, first vice-president; William M. Senter, second vice-president; Alphonso C. Stewart, third vice-president; Joseph Wheless, secretary; and John C. Meeks, treasurer. The first directors involved John S. Brown, Hartwell B. Grubbs, Frank M. Estes, Dorsey A. Jamison and James Y. Player.

The objects and purposes of the Society as expressed in its adopted Articles of Association, were: “To unite ex-Tennesseans and the decendants of Tennesseans residing in the State of Missouri in closer fraternal relations and to promote friendly intercourse among them; to welcome and entertain on fitting occasions distinguished visitors from Tennessee; to provide suitable rendezvous for their meetings and gatherings of the Society; to celebrate appropriately memorable events in the history of the “Old Volunteer State” and to familiarize the members with the important and leading events in the history of the State of Tennessee and the lives of its most prominent citizens, and generally to do whatever will encourage good-fellowship of Tennesseans residing in the State of Missouri.”

The Society maintains its annual banquet, frequently attended by prominent statesmen, jurists, educators, industrialists, and private citizens, plus one business meeting and smoker for members only. The Society never has gone beyond its original purpose. It has no philanthropic hobbies, no scholarships to give, no political theories to defend. It simply constitutes the medium whereby former Tennesseans convene at regular intervals and renew home ties.

God Bless the State of Tennessee and all its residents and their descendants!