Gov. Nathan Deal inducted Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian and Georgia Power chairman, president and CEO Paul Bowers as the Georgia Historical Society’s newest trustees Saturday night at the organization’s 10th annual trustees gala.
“I moved to Georgia about 20 years ago. Little did I know when I came to work at Delta that I one day would be responsible as a trustee for the entire state!” Bastian quipped.
The gala was held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Savannah. Chaired by Robert Jepson Jr. and Walter M. “Sonny” Deriso Jr. with co-chairs Kathryn Levitt and Swann Seiler, the black-tie event was themed “A Royal Intent,” inspired by King George II’s Royal Charter to the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America. The evening began with themed cocktails and a champagne fountain and concluded with a toast to the colony-turned-state of Georgia on its 285th birthday.
Guests included Liz and Frank Blake, Ada Lee and Pete Correll, Judy Deriso, Shirley and Billy Espy, Ned and Kim Gay, Alice Jepson, Amanda and George Olmstead, Sherry and Frank Poe, Helen and Charles Tarbutton and Mary and Clyde Tuggle.
Deal thanked supporters for their well wishes following the recent announcement that Sandra Deal was recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and beginning chemotherapy.
“She’s doing exceptionally well. She would have loved to have been here tonight but we felt, as a precaution, probably she shouldn’t get in big crowds right now,” Deal said. “This will be my last time to attend as the governor of this state. It’s been a great time. We have enjoyed our service. We look forward to making sure that Georgia continues to be the best state in the country. I’m sure with these two new trustees, along with the ones who precede them, we’re going to continue on that same path.”
Following remarks from Jepson and Georgia Historical Society President and CEO W. Todd Groce, and dinner presented by executive chef Alison Houston, Georgia Historical Society Senior Historian Stan Deaton moderated a discussion between Bastian and Bowers that touched on culture, passion, philanthropy and the future.
“The evolution of energy is something that’s keeping me engaged,” Bowers said. “You will always have some type of electricity. Is it going to be a battery pack, a solar panel on the roof? What are you going to do in terms of backstopping all that in terms of infrastructure? The evolution of this technology is going to change.”
Bastian did not predict a future of flying cars a la “The Jetsons” but rather newer, better, more fuel-efficient airplanes.
“We connect the world,” he said. “The world needs that more than ever. It’s divided, it’s polarized. The mission that we fill in this world is honorable. Yes, we know that things go wrong from time to time. That’s what we train around. We don’t train for the days when it’s bright, sunny skies and all our flights are on time. We train for the difficult times.”
Bastian and Bowers join present-day trustees: retired BellSouth CEO Duane Ackerman, longtime Georgia-Pacific CEO Pete Correll, retired Synovus CEO James H. Blanchard, past Coca-Cola Company CEO Muhtar Kent, Shepherd Center co-founder Alana Shepherd, SCAD president and co-founder Paula Wallace, Atlanta Falcons/United owner Arthur Blank and his Home Depot co-founder, Bernie Marcus, past Augusta National chairman and Atlanta Olympic Games Atlanta Committee CEO Billy Payne, the late Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, the late business leader Herman J. Russell developer, Tom Cousins, former Atlanta Mayor and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, revered University of Georgia coach and athletics director Vince Dooley, former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, Atlanta Braves legend Hank Aaron, media mogul and environmentalist Ted Turner, and Marguerite Neel Williams, a founding trustee of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
“I love what this award stands for: ‘Not For Self, But For Others,'” Bastian said. “When I think about Delta, I think about the man that founded this company almost 90 years ago, Mr. C.E. Woolman. He had a saying, ‘If you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your customers.’ We still follow that to this day.”