More than 400 guests gathered Oct. 22, 1996, to celebrate a man described as "one of the cords that holds this community together." That man is Howard L. Flood, chairman emeritus of FirstMerit Corporation, who, over the course of nearly four decades, enriched our region through his business acumen and unparalleled generosity of spirit.
Flood's rise through the ranks of the banking industry are well known, yet his prominence as a leader of community activities was the true focus of the evening. "Howard is the picture of an Akron business leader," said former foundation President John L. Dotson Jr. "He does not have a lot of bravado or fancy footwork, but he gets the job done. Integrity is his middle name."
Flood's leadership in civic and cultural initiatives ranged from a key role in the Akron Roundtable's "Turn-Around Cities" program to his commitment to downtown development, including the construction of Inventure Place, the continued growth of the University of Akron, and the expansion of Children's Hospital Medical Center.
Dotson described Flood's ability to marshal the efforts of disparate individuals and groups for the greater good of the community as "magical."
"Even though people might not agree with him at the outset, they always end up on his side," Dotson told he audience.
In the end, Flood's trademark decency and respect for others came through loud and clear. "Howard sets a fine example of kindness and courtesy," said longtime business colleague Jay Smith. "He understands that we need each other. That sets him apart."
In accepting the award, Flood was characteristically brief and to the point. "I believe I am one step closer to understanding Mr. Polsky's purpose (as a community leader)," he said. "It is not a recognition of an individual as much as recognition of what great good is done for oneself when we do good for others."