Alabama Academy of Honor

Mervyn Hayden Sterne

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1973.

Mervyn Hayden Sterne was a native Alabamian, born in Anniston, Alabama, August 2, 1892. He was the senior member of the investment banking firm of Sterne, Age and Leach and, at the time of his induction, had been a member of this firm and its predecessor over forty years. He was of great value to the State of Alabama and Birmingham and other counties and municipalities in Alabama due to the fact that his firm has bought and sold more State of Alabama securities than any other investment banking firm in Alabama.

He was particularly helpful in making a market for State of Alabama bonds. Having interested himself for over forty years in advocating the credit of the State and by bidding on its securities directly and through syndicates organized by him, he helped the State to get the highest price for its securities available. Although he did not always buy the various issues sold by the State, the fact that he entered bids through his own firm and with other syndicates provided a competitive market enabling the State to get a fair price for its securities. In addition to the great value he was to the State of Alabama his firm has bought and sold securities from many other counties and municipalities in the State including Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, and various other cities and counties. His assistance in the handling of securities from the State of Alabama was of invaluable service to the people of Alabama.

Colonel Sterne also displayed his patriotism by volunteering for the military service and was named a Captain of Infantry of the 55th Infantry, 7th Division and served in France for eleven months. In World War II, although over-age, he left his valuable business and volunteered again for service. He was accepted and appointed a colonel in the General Staff Corps, Assistant to Director of Personnel, Army Service Forces. In this capacity he distinguished himself and was awarded the Legion of Merit by the United States. Returning to Alabama he resumed his business career and was a senior member of the investment banking firm of Sterne, Agee and Leach.

In the business field he was also a director of the Alabama By-Products Corporation, Birmingham, Alabama, of the Ensley Company, Ensley, Alabama, of Avondale Mills, Sylacauga, Alabama, of the Classe Ribbon Company, Ramsay-McCormack Land Company, Birmingham, Alabama, Hayes International Corporation, Birmingham, Alabama, and Vice President and Director of the Alabama Chemical Products Company of Birmingham.

He held the honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities, Howard College, now Samford University, Doctor of Literature, Birmingham-Southern College and Doctor of Laws, University of Alabama. He was an honorary life member of the Birmingham Community Chest Board, President of the Birmingham Library Board, vice chairman of the Birmingham Art Museum, Trustee of Birmingham-Southern College and an honorary member of Omicron Delta Kappa.

Throughout his life he was active in civic and cultural affairs and was frequently called upon by public service officials for advice and aid such as the Jefferson County Board of Education and the City of Birmingham, the Red Cross, and he was chairman of the Community Chest Appeal, Co-Chairman of First Red Cross War Fund Appeal in Jefferson County and participated in many Community Chest, War Chest and other worthy appeals. He was Chairman of the Citizens Committee on Birmingham school problems and of Jefferson County on needs of the county and ways and means of financing those needs, a member of the Alabama State Planning commission, a member of the first Department of Public Welfare Board of Jefferson County, and in his church, Temple Emanu-El, he served as president of the Congregation and Co-Chairman of the United Jewish Fund Appeal of Birmingham. He was an organizer of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and for many years a member of that board, a member of the Birmingham Industrial Development Board, Chairman Committee on Public Credit of Alabama Bankers Association, Advisory Board of Salvation Army and always responded to any civic call in Birmingham, of the State of Alabama or the nation. He is now deceased.