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pigeon Thank you, Mr. President pigeons
By: Joe Marlett

Published in National Birmingham Roller Club
Jan/Feb 1998 Bulletin

James Turner – NBRC President 1996-1997

The Roller fraternity is a delightful blend of fanciers who share common interests and goals, but it is our diversity that makes the hobby great and defines those who excel. Some of these have been champions on the competition front; others have their mark by contributing educational tools. Some have been excelled in fellowship and support; others have been at the helm of networks such as news bulletins and organizations. These are people who, for the reasons mentioned stand out above others -- people who promote, protect and enhance the Roller hobby to its fullest.

There are many that meet the criteria of one of these facets, but few who are consummate players excelling in all of them. One individual who meets this standard of excellence is James Turner, a true champion who recently completed his tenure as the NBRC President. He has won national acclaim as the top breeder and flyer and as an educator on color genetics. He has traveled to many states to attend various conventions judging in some while merely spectator in others. He has organized and staged the popular Backspin Roller Classic and co-edited a national bulletin in 1990-91. There are few that had made impact on our hobby or matched the contributions of James Turner.

I first met James in 1987 when we became friends at that year’s NBRC Convention held in Kentucky and southern Indiana. We renewed acquaintance each year afterwards at events such as the FDB Fly in Canton-Akron (Ohio), the 1988 thru 1993 NBRC conventions, and the Backspin Classic in 1995 was the largest roller event ever attended that I know of, with over 200 fanciers and guests signing the register. Those of us who traveled from southern Indiana had the time of our lives that year… with James and arranged free housing for us at a nearby lake house for two days and nights, we received free meals throughout our stay, and were treated to a fantastic exhibition in the air as well as fellowship at its finest on the ground. The cost of entire weekend for our Indiana group was $25 each – our share of the gas for the 800 mile trip.

The two sponsoring clubs of Backspin Classic had decided from their beginning that any profits generated by these mega-events would be given back to those fanciers who attended them, whether it be in the form of food, door prizes, etc. We all realize that fundraisers are a necessity to ensure financial health of a club or convention, and I for one liked their approach of returning profits to the contributors. It certainly helps a group that travels a long distance – enabling it to attend an annual event without having to sell the family cow.

Many of us recall the first message that Turner wrote to the NBRC membership after assuming the office of President. He noted that he would like to be remembered as the President who brought harmony to our great national organization. He did not accomplish that goal, despite a gallant officer who unconstitutionally attempted to overthrow his administration fired James. Turner refused to quit, however, and continued in his pursuit to bring change to the club by placing it in the hands of the members. Those who knew him personally volunteered immediate support with others that didn’t know him but believed in his ideas joining forces.

Turner simply believed that all dues-paid members of this non-profit, national roller club of 1600 should be fairly treated as its “share-holders”. He was familiar with the Bylaws and Constitution that our NBRC forefathers produced in 1966, policy that hadn’t been updated in 30 years and affected only 30 or so people when originally written. While our Charter Members had attempted to provide policy for internal disagreement and controversy, they did not foresee the NBRC’s becoming an international club with overseas members, improved means of travel by jet aircraft national competitions, direct dialing, email and the Internet. Communications today has made the world much smaller.

Despite their existence, he believed that the bylaws were generally ignored and had been replaced with position and popularity. Turner’s stand was simply to return to open management, guided only by the principles clearly understood by each member in an environment where everyone had a voice. He appointed an independent Bylaws Committee to review the club’s documentation and suggest revision, which would ultimately be present to each member for acceptance by vote approval. If approved, the new documentation would be treated as a “contract” between the members of the club and the management. Turner’s desire was to implement policy whereas an officer could not be dismissed or barred from a post by any individual simply because of personal disagreement. Instead, James sought written text mandating that the members-at-large be given the authority to weight the issue and decide the officer’s fate – giving that right to the ones that duly elected him to begin with. He went to work to allow every NBRC member the opportunity to nominate and elect his or her own choice of regional directors. He was insistent that NBRC members be given a choice of candidates for all national offices every two years, thus eliminating the restrictions of the old bylaws. The only automatic office should be the Director-at-Large, ensuring that the transition goes smoothly from one administration to the next.

For many in the NBRC, this may be viewed as more paperwork, not necessary -- a bulletin every six months, a source to acquire bands, an annual convention, contests and fellowship combine to make the list of things really important. The enjoyment we derive from flying birds on our backyards is surely the most important. Basically speaking, this is true, of course. But in the legal sense those who unselfishly volunteer to manage our club have additional responsibility. They must generate the finances required to operate efficiently, ensuring that monies are present to acquire bands and mail bulletins, procure convention sites and ensure that the constitutional rights of each member are fulfilled as promised. Our Lifetime Members have a “right” to receive club benefits for the remainder of their life. An elected officer has the “right” to serve out his/her term unless they abuse the post. So yes, our Constitution and Bylaws can be treated as a “contract” in a court of law.

President Turner worked diligently to ensure that NBRC funds be properly accounted for and disclosed to the entire membership on a routine basis. He sought to have all club-owned property identified so all of us would know the true holdings of our club. He simply wanted everything above board with integrity instilled in the management of the NBRC. Personally, I know of no other member that has done more for our club and the roller hobby that James Turner.

“Thank you, Mr. President”, for a job well done during your two-year term. If or when a majority of the NBRC members determine that you have done the right things for the club, you will indeed be re-membered as the President who brought harmony to our beloved, international roller club, the NBRC.

We are indebted to you for the hours of personal time and sacrifice spent on our behalf and pursuit of our well being. You never failed to put the interests of the membership ahead of personal gain, never strayed from your agenda of making the NBRC our club… and never failed to give 100% to the organization 100% of the time.

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