By Emily Williams
Each year, Emmet O’Neal Library recognizes an individual or group of individuals who have showcased a devotion to supporting both the city of Mountain Brook and the library. The 2020 Tynes Award, named in honor of former library foundation board Chairman William “Bill” Tynes Jr., was given this year to Thomas N. Carruthers Jr.
A longtime Mountain Brook resident, Carruthers was a founding member of the Mountain Brook Library Foundation – formed in 1993 – and served on the board for its first decade.
“And that was a busy decade,” said Emmet O’Neal Library Executive Director Lindsy Gardner. “That included a capital campaign to raise money for the Emmet O’Neal Library building that we all love today, with its impressive foyer, abundance of natural light and second-floor view of Crestline Village. You can tell I’m a little biased.”
Gardner introduced Carruthers at the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Luncheon on Jan. 30, where he was presented with the award.
Upon accepting the award, Carruthers thanked the library board and dedicated it to last year’s award recipient, Alice Williams, who passed away in November. He worked closely with Williams for many years, including serving on the Jefferson County Historical Society Board together and working on the capital campaign for the new library building.
In addition, Williams was a formidable birding expert, a hobby she shared with Carruther’s late wife, Dale.
“She was a remarkable woman and one of the finest women, person, people that I have ever had the privilege of … working with,” he said.
“I’m very honored to have worked with her, and I’m very honored to receive this recognition today.”
Having been with the library for just three years, Gardner deferred to her predecessor Sue DeBrecht to properly describe Carruthers’ spirit in service to the library.
“The first word that came to her mind was ‘gracious,’” Gardner said. DeBrecht noted that Carruthers was always cheerful in giving his time to the library, whether that required handling building contracts for the new library facility or speaking at a library conference to educate others on establishing a foundation.
In addition, DeBrecht noted that Carruthers saved the library thousands of dollars during the building process, Gardner stated. Those thousands were invested in the foundation to fund future projects, including author events, special collections and capital projects.
“Tom also supports the library by using the library,” Gardner said. “And he passed along his lifelong love of reading and writing to his daughter Virginia Carruthers Smith, who continues Tom’s legacy of library support through her role as president of the Mountain Brook City Council.”
Carruthers is a graduate of Princeton University and earned his juris doctorate at Yale Law School, where he served as editor of the Yale Law Journal. He is retired and was a managing partner at Bradley Arant Rose & White. He was named Outstanding Lawyer of the Year by the Birmingham Bar Association in 2001.
He received the Brotherhood and Sisterhood Award for Outstanding Community Service in 2000, awarded by the Alabama Region of the National Conference for Community and Justice.
In addition to his service in Mountain Brook, Carruthers is a member and has previously held leadership positions with the Birmingham Rotary Club, Birmingham Museum of Art, the Lakeshore Foundation, Children’s of Alabama, Leadership Birmingham, the Boy Scouts of America and the Jefferson County Historical Society. He also has had many other philanthropic affiliations.