The year 1973 was one of movement, transition and progress for the National Association of REALTORS®. And, it was the year that the Association's political and governmental efforts became a major activity.
In assuming the presidency of NAREB in 1973, J. D. Sawyer* accepted the challenge of making the Association the largest and most respected trade association in the world. This was the year for the historic transition from the National Association of Real Estate Boards to the National Association of REALTORS® – the year the National Association cleared the way for the 400,000 plus sales-associates to become members.
The list of Mr. Sawyer's accomplishments is long and varied. During his term the Association's communication activities were greatly expanded, spearheaded by a dramatic step-up in public relations, publications and advertising programs. Highlighting a general reorganization plan was the establishment of two long-overdue and important departments, Education and State and Urban Affairs. The latter department moved swiftly into action at Mr. Sawyer's behest and adopted the Equal Opportunity Seminar program. Important progress was made by the REALTORS® Political Action Committee and its counterparts on the state level. The Association moved into the computer age through a complex changeover to a data processing system. The Governmental Affairs Division, through the addition of several key staff members, grew stronger and commanded new respect in Washington, D.C.
That respect for, and the government's interest in, the political strength of the Association was evident at the 1973 Annual Convention. Both President Richard Nixon and Vice-President Gerald Ford were on hand in Washington to address the assembled REALTORS®
"The year 1973 has offered a whole rounded picture of progress and enthusiasm," Mr. Sawyer said, "and the magnificent convention was the highlight of that enthusiasm. Not the least of satisfactions is a positive indication of a strong coalition between the societies, institutes and councils in their relationship to the National Association. This, plus the enthusiasm apparent in every quarter for the new directions in which the Association is heading, makes it a certainty that the 1970s will be a decade of great progress."
One other change of importance to the National Association was the introduction of the new REALTOR® logo. In addition, a committee was appointed to select a new Chicago headquarters building.
Under Mr. Sawyer's leadership, the Association was active in the legislative arena, too. The REALTOR® leader exhorted the membership and the public to oppose a land use bill that was interpreted as a "federal zoning" statute. Sawyer told the Administration he would vigorously oppose any federal land use bill "where federal criteria would be imposed on states and communities."
REALTOR® support was instrumental in rescuing FHA lending authority, which was on the verge of lapsing in 1973. Sawyer also was outspoken in his attempts to prod the Federal Reserve Board to ease a severe mortgage money crisis and prevent an even graver one.
Mr. Sawyer served as president of the Middletown (Ohio) Board of REALTORS®. He was also past president of the Ohio Association of REALTORS®. He was Ohio REALTOR® of the Year in 1968.
On the national level, he served as president of both the Society of Industrial REALTORS® and the American Chapter of the International Real Estate Federation.
Mr. Sawyer was appointed Associate U.S. Attorney General in 1974.
He attended John B. Stetson University in Florida, Miami University of Ohio and Ohio State University.
Source: Presidents of the National Association of REALTORS®, (Chicago: NAR, 1980).