William H. Lanford, 1935-



William H. Lanford, 1935-


Civic leaders
City council members


William H. Lanford, born in 1935, is a native of Gadsden, Ala., and a graduate of Gadsden public schools. He later earned his B.S. degree at the University of Alabama. After graduation, he served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps.

Lanford, after graduation and his military service, settled in Tuscaloosa where he began a long and successful insurance career. He began his career with Metropolitan Life, but soon joined Cotton States Life Insurance Co., where he rose to senior vice president. In 1975, he began a highly successful career with Southland National Insurance Co., retiring in 1999 as president and CEO.

During his entire business and civic career, Lanford has a keen sense of purpose and civic responsibility coupled with a dedication to doing what’s right for all. In his public service and civic leadership, he has been defined as a man of vision, fairness, and progressive ideas.

His early civic involvement began with the United Way, where he served and chaired virtually every standing committee, as well as all top leadership roles. This laid the foundation for his leadership in virtually every major civic organization in Tuscaloosa including Tuscaloosa YMCA, American Red Cross, Black Warrior Council of the Boy Scouts, United Negro College Fund and many others.

His civic roles prepared him well for a remarkable career in public service, which began in 1975 as a member of the City Board of Education where he served 10 years (five years as chairman). During his tenure, he provided steady and balanced leadership during some tumultuous desegregation phases in the late 70s and early 80s that resulted in a more progressive system to meet the needs of all children.

In 1985, Lanford’s visionary, effective leadership was called upon once again when he was elected to the first of two terms on the new Tuscaloosa City Council, which had just changed from a commission to mayor-council form of government. His steady, progressive leadership as City Council president resulted in not only a smooth transition to a new form of government, but local government because more inclusive and result oriented.

Even though he served successfully in key public, elected roles, and as an effective corporate CEO, Lanford continued to give of himself in a variety of leadership roles. He was the first chairman of the visionary strategic planning initiative known as Challenge 21; served as Chamber chairman; co-chaired the successful Chamber task force that brought about the Bryant-Denny Stadium expansion; and provided award-winning, effective leadership for many other endeavors.

Lanford was inducted into the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame in 2004.

Material from the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama was used in this description.


Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama


Betty Slowe (Description)






Tuscaloosa (AL)

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