As explained in RSES News in the June 2021 issue of RSES Journal, the history of the White Stetson is a tradition that has been a part of the SWRA for more than 50 years. The hats signify those who are
currently serving the Region as President or have served and are now a Past President. A hat is presented to an International President attending SWRA, as well. This honor also comes with a responsibility for the recipient to honor the tradition and never show up to an official meeting without their white hat. Those that forget their hat are fined $50 as a penalty.
RSES President Jerry Clark, CM recalls the tradition through his lineage.
“For me and my family it became a tradition of service. My father Wade Clark, CM received his in 1983, I received mine in 2007, and my mother Linda received hers in 2012. As a boy, I recall many times trying to ‘steal’ the hats from those who had one to only find them saying I would have to ‘earn it just like they did’ through service to the SWRA. So many of the great people of our region and organization like Steve Stevens, Ralph Becker, Shelton Babineaux, CM; JR Dick Burks, CM; Wayburn Wilson, CMS; Darwin Sharp, CM; Mac McCarthy, CM; Danny Carole; Jim Butcher, CM; Harrison Travis, CM; Wayne Young, CMS; and
Greg McKendall have received this coveted token, and I’ve been honored to be among their ranks.
“I’ve been able to see so many of these people honored as they received there White Hat. It’s why it is such an honor that I now get to honor those who serve with the presentations! Some time ago my dear friend Dick Burks said it was my turn to present the White Hats and to keep the traditions alive. It’s with pride that I present them to honor each who serves and sacrifices their time for RSES and the SWRA.”
First Published by RSES Journal