For Immediate Release Contact: Wayne E. Chaplin
President and Chief Operating Officer
Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.
Telephone: (305) 625-4171
Simon Wiesenthal Center Honors Mel Dick, President, Wine Division, Senior Vice President, and Partner of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. with Simon Wiesenthal Legacy Award
MIAMI - April 29, 2008 – Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., the Nation’s Leading Wine and Spirits Distributor and Control States Broker with a tradition of service excellence aince 1968 and proud to be celebrating its 40th anniversary, announced that Mel Dick, President of the Wine Division, Senior Vice President and a Partner of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. and his wife Bobbi, were honored with the Simon Wiesenthal Legacy Award.
Joined for this special event by Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Rabbi Meyer H. May, executive director, both from Los Angeles, CA, the ceremony, held at the InterContinental Miami on April 18, 2008, was attended by more than 400 guests.
In presenting the Simon Wiesenthal Legacy Award, Rabbi Hier said: “In today’s world where hatred, bigotry, and Holocaust denial are still all too frequent in daily life, Mel Dick, true to his fighting spirit, is a sincere, devoted and passionate advocate of human rights, human dignity and human compassion. His and Bobbi’s long-standing and generous support of the Simon Wiesenthal Center is being honored tonight and I am extremely proud to present the Simon Wiesenthal Legacy Award to him for all his work on our behalf over the years.”
Wayne E. Chaplin, President and Chief Operating Officer of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., and Harvey R. Chaplin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, & Spirits of America, Inc. served as the event’s co-chairmen, while Rabbi Meyer May, executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, acted as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies and delivered a moving speech about Mr. Dick.
Rabbi May said of Mr. Dick, “Anyone who knows Mel – and most of you tonight know and love him – appreciate that his ‘keep-on-punching’ drive has made him a legend in his own time in the wine and spirits industry. Devoted to his wife and family, Mel has also been a true leader in the Jewish community nationally and internationally with his enthusiastic support of not only the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s program of activities combating hate, bigotry and anti-Semitism in all its horrendous forms, but he has been a true friend of the State of Israel, including his 15 years of service as the South Florida Chairman of the world-renowned Weizmann Institute of Science, the international center of scientific research and graduate study located in Rehovot, Israel.”
Mr. Wayne E. Chaplin said: “Mel has always said that Simon Wiesenthal represents everything that is fair and right, not only for the Jewish people, but for all mankind, and that we should never forget the pain and suffering of an entire people because of their religion….My Dad and I stand here tonight recognizing a great humanitarian and a great cause.”
Continuing his tribute to one of his mentors, friend and partner, Mr. Chaplin added: “To say a few things about Mel is hard to do, but let me try. For the last 50 years Mel has been an Innovator and a Leader in the Wine and Spirits industry. His efforts have helped make Southern Wine & Spirits the leading distribution company in the United States. His foresight and creativity put our Wine business on the map before anyone else believed that Americans had any appreciation for the Great Wines of the world….and for all this and more, including his multiple charitable and humanitarian activities, he has been recognized by his Peers, Partners, Governments and the entire global wine industry as one of the most powerful and influential people in the wine business. Mel, thank you for being part of the Southern Wine & Spirits Family for all these years, thanks for being part of the Chaplin family and being such a great mentor and inspiration to so many of us here tonight.”
In accepting the Simon Wiesenthal Legacy Award, Mr. Dick said: “Thank you all very much for this honor tonight. I want to sincerely thank the Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Southern Director, Stephen Lippy; also Harvey and Wayne Chaplin for agreeing to serve as co-chairmen of tonight’s event; Bobbi, my lovely wife of 51 years, my family and all my Southern friends and associates as well as everyone here tonight for joining Rabbi Hier, Rabbi May and the officers and staff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for this special evening. Thank you. Let me just say that I want to underline my continuing support of the ideals of Simon Wiesenthal and all the Center’s activities and programs, both here in the United States and abroad. None of us should ever rest in combating hate, bigotry, anti-Semitism and the violation of human rights anywhere it is present, and this is what the Simon Wiesenthal Center stands for and fights for on a daily basis, so I am proud to be part of this ongoing effort to promote human dignity, freedom and the full expression of religious belief, without fear.”
Mr. Dick added, “The Simon Wiesenthal Center is the world’s most important organization for Holocaust remembrance and defense of not only the human rights of the Jewish people, but all people. Some Jews and non-Jews find it difficult to understand why we are here tonight as they consider the Holocaust old news and too gruesome to think about 63 years after it took place I for one will do my best to never let the world forget the misery and the atrocities Adolf Hitler and his deranged followers and what again is happening in Darfur and Rawanda and many other places in the world. Much of mankind continues to refuse to let innocent people have their own beliefs and live in peace.”
In addition, Louis Gossett Jr., the multi-talented, Academy Award-winning actor and Mel Dick’s boyhood and lifelong friend, spoke about the need to take care of the children in this world and about his life growing up with Mel. Mr. Gossett Jr. is also the Founder of the Eracism Foundation Inc., which is a 501c3 Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation that was founded on January 5, 2006; the group’s mission is to eradicate the systematic impacts of all forms of racism by providing programs that foster cultural diversity, historical enrichment, education, and antiviolence initiatives.
In acknowledging Mr. Gossett’s attendance on this special evening, Mr. Dick said, “The great Louis Gossett, Jr., whom I have known for more than 60 years. Lou was plucked out of Abraham Lincoln High School as a teenager to appear in ‘Take A Giant Step’ on Broadway. Lou was President of the general organization of both our Junior High School Mark Twain, and also Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York. I remember his parents well. We came from an ethnically diverse neighborhood and we grew up with always loved and admired you, and we are so proud of your success and determination in life. I love you Lou, thank you for being here with us tonight.”
About the Simon Wiesenthal Center
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an international Jewish human rights organization dedicated to repairing the world one step at a time. The Center’s multifaceted mission generates changes through the Snider Social Action Institute and education by confronting anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promoting human rights and dignity, standing with Israel, defending the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. With a constituency of over 400,000 households in the United States, it is accredited as an NGO at international organizations including the United Nations, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Simon Wiesenthal Center maintains offices in New York, Toronto, Palm Beach, Paris Buenos Aires and Jerusalem. Based in Boca Raton, the Southern office of The Simon Wiesenthal Center keeps the media and community aware of the social action issues of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The April 18, 2008 award event was co-chaired by George Feldenkreis, Russell Galbut, Ezra Katz and Don Soffer. For more information, please log onto: http://www.wiesenthal.com
About Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.
Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., the nation’s Leading Wine and Spirits Distributor and Control States Broker with a forty-year tradition of service excellence since 1968 and proud to be celebrating its 40th anniversary, operates in 29 states, and is a licensed permittee in two more States. The Company currently operates in: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Company has a strategic partnership with Alaska Distributors Co. of Seattle, Washington, called Southern Wine/Spirits West, a joint venture that has wine and spirits brokerage operations across the Northwest Control States of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. On a national basis, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. employs more than 10,500 team members. For more information contact: www.southernwine.com.