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D. Brent Williams “Spirit of Rotary” Award


This award recognizes one outstanding Rotarian within District 6970 who has demonstrated extraordinary service and leadership in Rotary for at least ten years in at least two of Rotary’s Avenues of Service.

Qualifying Requirements

  1. Based upon at least ten years of service in Rotary.
  2. Active member in good standing in District 6970
  3. Must demonstrate exemplary Rotary leadership in at least two of Rotary’s Avenues of Service.
  4. Cannot be in the Governors Corps or have been District Governor within the immediate past three Rotary years.
  5. Can receive this award only once.
  6. Honorees shall be representative of Brent Williams’ legacy to Rotary

D. Brent Williams’ Legacy

The Spirit of Rotary Award bears the name D. Brent Williams, a Rotarian in District 6970 who embodied The Spirit of Rotary through devoted service and leadership.  Brent’s passion for Rotary began in 1989 when he joined the Rotary Club of Gainesville, where he served as 2002-2003 President. He rose through the ranks of Rotary leadership by holding numerous leadership positions at the District, Zone and Rotary International (RI) levels.

In 2006-07 Brent served as Rotary District 6970 Governor, as Zone 34 Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator from 2010-13, and as a member of the Fund Development Committee for The Rotary Foundation Trustees.  Brent served as Representative to the Council on Legislation, RI Director Nominating Committee, as well as Training Leader and Future Vision Trainer at the 2012 and 2013 RI Assemblies, preparing incoming District Governors around the world for their responsibilities during the coming year.

PDG Brent also served on the RI Montreal Convention Promotion Committee, 2009-10, Discussion Leader, Rotary Florida PETS, 2008-11, and Faculty Member and Discussion Leader, Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI), Sunshine Division, 2008-11.  He was the District 6970 Faculty Chair for RLI during 2009-11 and Rotary Institute Plenary Session Moderator, Zones 33/34 in 2007.   What Brent enjoyed most was training and mentoring future Rotary leaders!

D. Brent Williams had a stellar 37-year career in public broadcasting and was a professional known for his golden voice and impressive communication skills.  He worked for WUFT-TV Channel 5 and WUFT-FM Classic 89 and Nature Coast 90, Gainesville’s public television and radio stations. He served most of his time there as the Director of Development and Community Relations. His primary roles and responsibilities were focused around fundraising, where he put his gregarious personality and distinctive voice to good use during on-air pledge drives. He was also instrumental in the success of membership renewals, corporate support and planned giving commitments for the stations.

He brought this skill-set to his dedicated service to raising funds for The Rotary Foundation. A wonderful example of this is The PDG Brent and Naomi Williams Endowment Fund through the Rotary Foundation, which will continue to live on and support the good work that Rotarians do all over the world.

Among the many awards and accolades D. Brent Williams received throughout his professional and Rotary career, two that he was especially proud of were the E.T. and Vam York Service Above Self Award presented by the Rotary Club of Gainesville, and the Distinguished Service Award presented by the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation.

In 2013, Brent was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.  However, he continued his devoted service to Rotary until he was too ill to do so.  Although Brent passed away in 2016, he learned beforehand that the D. Brent Williams Spirit of Rotary Award would be created to honor his legacy to Rotary, and to honor Rotarians in District 6970 that exemplified his passion, commitment and service.

His daughter, Catherine Nilon said, “My father was 100% passionate in everything he did, and he always strived to make the world a better place. In fact, he dedicated his life to this philosophy.” She added, “My father was appreciative of every day and every experience. He never took life for granted, his smile was absolutely contagious, and his positivity always shined through despite all the challenges that he faced.”

His wife Naomi said, “Rotary truly was his calling; it gave him a sense of purpose and the opportunity to help others not for personal gain, but simply to be of service to others. She said, “He was a kind and gentle man who was loved by many.”

D. Brent Williams lived a life that personified The Spirit of Rotary.

Nomination & Selection Procedures

  • Any Rotarian in District 6970 may nominate a candidate for this award provided the nomination is endorsed by a current president of a Rotary Club in District 6970.  The endorsing president need not be the president of the Nominator’s Rotary Club.  Current presidents of Rotary Clubs in District 6970 need not have their nominations endorsed by another current president.  The application is available online and must be completed and submitted online.  
  • The Selection Committee is comprised of the same District 6970 Rotarians that serves to select the Al Watson “Quiet Hero” Award, as follows:
    • Immediate Past District Governor
    • District Governor
    • District Governor-Elect
    • District Governor-Nominee, who shall serve as Committee Chair
    • Three at-large members
  • Each year the longest serving at-large member will roll off of the committee.
  • The iPDG will select the replacement at-large member no later than January 15 of each year.
  • The Selection Committee shall meet as called by the Chair to review nominations and select the top candidate, using a numeric scoring system acceptable to the committee.
  • Numeric scores shall guide Committee discussions but not be the sole determining factor in a decision; qualitative judgements shall also guide Committee deliberations.
  • This Award is not required to be issued annually; the Committee can decide that nominees for a particular year do not meet the high standards intended for this Award.
  • The selection of the honoree shall be made no later than 2 weeks before the District Conference. If a District Conference is not held during the Rotary Year, the selection shall occur no later than June 1 of that year.

Last updated Jan. 27, 2024

Nomination applications now open (click here)
For questions, click to contact Rusty Hall