Arthur E. Stilwell Award recipient Stuart Salter known as true visionary dedicated to community

Published 12:20 am Thursday, January 4, 2024

The newest recipient of the Arthur E. Stilwell Award, Stuart Salter, grew up influenced by go-getters.

From seeing his father serve as campaign treasurer for Leonard Giblin Jr. in his bid for political office to seeing Rita Davis knock on doors for the YMCA, Salter watched people give of their time and invest in the community.

Salter admits going through “that thing” that some youth go through where he had to get away from his hometown.

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“I joined the Navy, got to see the world and came back to fully appreciate the value of Port Arthur,” Salter said with a laugh.

The Arthur E. Stilwell Award is presented by the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce to someone who exhibits the vision and dedication of Arthur E. Stilwell, the founder of Port Arthur.

Growing up Salter saw his father and grandfather serving in the Chamber and other volunteer organizations.

“As far back as the Chamber records show, Julian Salter Insurance Company has been a member of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. The company’s membership may very well date back to the year the Chamber was chartered in 1899,” recently retired Chamber President/CEO Pat Avery said.

Salter said he thought he would make his career in California but once there he didn’t like it. He ended up buying the company car from that business and came home unemployed.

This was but a stepping-stone as he gained career tools, saying, “It was a fortuitous plan of God.”

He came home, worked in the banking industry, making his way up the career ladder, then opted to work for his father in the family insurance business.

Stuart Salter spent many years leading his family’s business, Julian Salter Insurance Company, which has long been a supporter of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. (Port Arthur News file photo)

After his father’s passing he took over ownership and only recently went into retirement after selling the business.

Avery said Salter’s commitment to the Chamber is evident, having served twice as chairman of the board, decades apart in each tenure.

“Stuart’s hand has touched almost every successful venture in Port Arthur. Whether it has been working to attract new businesses to the area, helping them succeed by being a mentor, helping gain support that led to the passage of the ½ cent sales tax that funds the Economic Development Corporation, leading the political issues and legislative committees, bridging gaps through the inclusion of diverse individuals and groups working together, or helping people understand the importance of being properly insured and managing risks in their businesses. Salter has done that and much more,” Avery said.

Salter, she said, is a visionary who stepped up to the plate, teaming up with others to invest in the community and using his time, wisdom and resources to make a difference.

Joe Tant, who is the new Chamber President/CEO, speaks highly of the award recipient he has known for years.

“Through past 12 years Mr. Stuart Salter has been both a mentor and a friend. Not only has he guided me through insurance questions, but life questions, as well,” Tant said. “I highly value Stuart as both a leader and a friend. Remember Stuart, ‘mitigate the risk.’”

Salter said he was delighted and surprised to even be under consideration for the award.

“I’m honored to be associated with any of the prior recipients,” Salter said.

Some past recipients include Judith Smith, Tom Neal, Verna Rutherford, Dr. Mark Porterie, Rita Davis, Sam Monroe, Hargie Faye Savoy and Floyd Marceaux.

Salter has words of wisdom for up and coming business people.

“I wish I could convince young people to get involved in the Chamber,” Salter said as he explained he had no automatic shoe-in to an award with the Chamber.

“I showed up, suited up and that’s pretty much it. That’s what is asked of you. And have a can-do attitude. That’s how I ended up with a nice award like this after the end of a career in a town among friends.”

Salter will be honored as the 2024 recipient of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce’s highest honor, the Arthur E. Stilwell Award during the Chamber’s upcoming banquet at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Bob Bowers Civic Center.