History

A Tennessee Charter was issued to the Economic Club of Memphis in October 1973. The Club was the brainchild of P. K. Seidman, an eminent Memphis accountant, who partnered with Dr. Kurt F. Flexner, then Chair of the Department of Economics at Memphis State University. It stands today as one of approximately ten prestigious clubs in the US.

The Club began in a meeting of twelve Memphis leaders at Justine’s Restaurant. The founders included the head of a worldwide grain company (participating in absentia); Walter Armstrong, a prominent lawyer; Ronald Terry, head of the largest local bank; Alvin Wunderlich, of insurance company fame; L. Terry Britt, head of the Memphis branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Dr. John J. Shea, Jr., world famous ear specialist; Gordon Hanna, editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal; Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inns; Charles Brakefield, president of WREC Radio-TV; Abe Plough, known throughout the world for St. Joseph Aspirin and other chemical products; and Dr. Phineas J. Sparer, professor emeritus of preventive medicine and psychiatry at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine.

The founders chose Ned Cook as the first president of the Club. Seidman was asked to chair the executive committee. Flexner was designated the Executive Director.

Letters of invitation were sent to captains of industry and other city leaders resulting in a charter membership of 47. Eighty-eight joined the Club in the first year.

Requirement for membership was established as any individual who played an influential role in the community, with no discrimination as to race, religion, or sex. A membership limit was originally set at 75 but was exceeded in the first year.