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in 1996 (but came back for several years afterward to help Carol with the books), worked with Carol for more than 30 years. Marilyn reports that although Bruno E. Jacob, founder and first Executive Secretary of the NFL, had retired the year before Carol started, he always came back to the office. “Mr. Jacob helped her with the bookkeeping, to get her started on how the NFL did it. It was different from other business, as an ‘organization of education.’”

The “Lean Times”

Fulfilling Bruno Jacob’s Legacy Bruno Jacob played an important role in the birth of Carol’s commitment to the National Forensic League. According to Diane Rasmussen, former Financial Office Associate for the organization who spent 34 years as Carol’s assistant, “It was her daily mission to keep to the core mission that Mr. Jacob put forth when he started the NFL. That is what drove her along with the rest of us.” “He instilled that kind of loyalty,” Marilyn confirms. “He used to have all of the employees come in his office at coffee time and talk for 15-20 minutes. You just felt for the NFL. It was a job, yes. It was a paycheck, yes. But that wasn’t the main thrust. It was the NFL itself.” Carol came to respect Bruno Jacob a great deal. She recalls that he had a knack for prediction, from current events—like recognizing that President Richard Nixon would resign six months before it actually happened, to local weather—including ensuring Carol left the office before a major snow storm hit so she could get to her home 15 miles away. “I really respected his judgment,” Carol says. The importance of that leadership and the impression it made on a young Carol Zanto can’t be underestimated. Jackie Oakes, another co-worker, didn’t start at the NFL until 1990 but understood how it impacted Carol for 20 years prior: “She grew up as the NFL grew up.” Despite Carol’s youth, her role models and colleagues helped her quickly develop the skills and know-how necessary to help run the organization. It wasn’t long before her own sense of judgment would be put to the test.



“We wanted to do more for young people and take care of the great staff, but it was a year before we were back on track. Marilyn, Carol, and that group kept things going.” — Don Crabtree, Board President

The cover of the January 1990 Rostrum honoring the support staff of the NFL office.

There is a time in the organization’s history, in the mid 80s, known internally as the “lean times.” The organization’s third Executive Secretary, Dennis Winfield, resigned in 1986 and thenBoard President James Copeland became interim director. Jim, after 25 years of coaching and teaching, had recently retired and joined Hall of Fame coach Esther Kalmbach’s Ocean Blvd. Realty in Pampano Beach, Florida. Four months into retirement, the NFL’s Board of Directors came calling to take advantage of Jim’s business experience in the wake of a serious financial shortfall. According to current NSDA Board President Don Crabtree, who was first elected to the Board in the 1987-1988 school year, the organization was in dire financial condition in 1986. The accountant revealed there to be less than $800 left in the entire NFL account. President Crabtree recalls: “The attorney recommended we close the organization down and move on. It was disheartening, disturbing news.” The financial situation was such that Jim and fellow employee Albert Odom didn’t cash paychecks until it got back on track. “I remember one day early in 1987, I was leaving on a fundraising trip when Carol came to me and said we did not have enough to make payroll,” Jim confirms. “I gave Carol my personal check for $10,000 in case we ran short when I was on the road. I do not believe that money was ever used, but the staff was always paid on time.” “Staff weathered that—the uncertainty of their jobs,” President Crabtree continues. “We wanted to do more for young people and take care of the great staff, but it was a year before we were back on track. Marilyn, Carol, and that group kept things going.” Jim Copeland accepted a more permanent role as Executive Secretary later that year. Until then, Marilyn and Carol maintained a stable office. As Marilyn remembers, “All we did was keep going with what we normally did. Albert Odom was there and took care of Rostrum. We took care of the rest.” Carol felt that the nature of their

Profile for Speech & Debate

2017 Spring Rostrum  

Volume 91 Issue 4

2017 Spring Rostrum  

Volume 91 Issue 4