UC Rotarians receive club’s highest honor
Glenda Caudle, Special Features Editor
Special Features Editor
Clint Joiner was doing what he does best at the noon meeting of Union City Rotary Club Friday — focusing attention on others while making sure things were running smoothly behind the scenes.
One of the issues he was concentrating on was making sure family members of the trio of Rotarians who were to be honored as Paul Harris Fellows at the meeting were secretly admitted to the Hampton Centré meeting room, so the surprise could be kept from the members about to receive Rotary’s highest honor until the last possible moment.
Sharon Barnes, wife of longtime Union City High School football coach and educator Randy Barnes, who is now director of football operations at the University of Tennessee, had made her entrance to the meeting room at Hampton Centré, along with the couple’s children, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, just before Barnes’ name was announced as the first recipient.
Then it was time for Joiner to usher in his mother, Linda Simrell, who is the wife of the second honoree, Bill Simrell. She was joined by the couple’s children — including Joiner — and grandchildren.
Later, Joiner would confess he was slightly puzzled about where family members were for the third secret honoree. That mystery was cleared up when the Union City businessman heard his own name announced as the third Paul Harris Fellow from Union City Rotary Club.
Local Rotarians who are part of the 156-member strong organization say they cannot recall a previous instance in which a father-son duo were honored as Paul Harris Fellows during the same ceremony.
Barnes, known as the winningest coach in the UCHS football history in his 21 years at the head of the program, is a Ripley native and a UTM alumnus, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees there. He was also athletic director and assistant principal at UCHS and received numerous awards during his tenure, including the A.F. Bridges Male Coach of the Year Award and the TSSAA Distinguished Service Award.
He has been president of the Rotary Club locally and was president of the Obion County Alumni association for the University of Tennessee in 2005. He is an active member of Union City First United Methodist Church, as are his fellow Paul Harris honorees.
The Barnes are the parents of Dr. David Barnes of Jackson, who is married to Kelly Barnes, and of Anna Barnes of Memphis. They are the grandparents of Bryant Barnes and Elizabeth Barnes of Jackson, all of whom were present to celebrate the occasion.
Bill Simrell, whose family founded Jiffy Steamer Co. near Fulton, has been a member of the local Rotary Club since 1980 and has served on the scholarship committee and chaired the international exchange guest program for several years. He has also been president of Poplar Meadows Country Club and the local Chamber of Commerce and, in 1970, was named Young Farmer of the Year by the Farm Bureau. He and his father, the late John William Simrell, also claimed the conservation award from the state of Kentucky during that period.
He is married to the former Linda Thorpe and is the father of Stephanie Dodd of Troy and Lori Vastbinder of Union City, and the stepfather of Deani Pahl of Columbus, Ga., and Joiner of Union City.
The couple’s grandchildren include Zach Clouse, Jordan Clouse, Seth Clouse, Maitland Vastbinder and McHale Vastbinder, all of Union City, and Ava Pahl and Wes Pahl of Columbus.
Joiner’s work history includes employment with Merrill Lynch following his graduation from Vanderbilt University in Nashville and his current role at Jiffy Steamer Co. He recently added a new product to the company’s line — Haygain, which is a steamer for hay that will be fed to horses.
He was instrumental in having the company receive the Sharp Award, one of Tennessee’s highest honors for workplace safety and health.
In the community, Joiner is a member of the board of directors and a hands-on participant in Habitat for Humanity in Obion County. His work as a board member for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Tennessee has helped make it one of the most respected clubs for children and youth in the state and he has, again, been a personally involved member at virtually every level in the club. He received the organization’s Champions for Children award for three consecutive years and earned bronze and silver medallions in honor of his service and commitment from the national organization.
He is an active member of the Promethean Foundation and serves on the advisory board of First State Bank.
In Rotary, he has devoted time and commitment to the hard-working scholarship committee as it dispenses more than $300,000 in higher education funding each year to area students. He was instrumental in setting up the Rotary Club website and he makes sure club information reaches members each week.
Joiner is the son of Linda Simrell of Union City and Dr. Bob Joiner of Oxford, Miss., and the stepson of Bill Simrell.
Friday’s session also marked the close of a year of service for Gary Houston, who has been president. Al Creswell took over the gavel from Houston and announced the Paul Harris Fellows.
Published in The Messenger 6.29.11