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Released October 21, 2004


HATTIESBURG - The University of Southern Mississippi will honor several of its outstanding alumni and supporters of the university during homecoming weekend Oct. 23 by naming the latest inductees into its Alumni Hall of Fame and recognizing winners of the university's Awards of Excellence.

Hall of Fame inductees include:

Dr. Donald W. Benefield '82

Dr. Don Benefield is an active member of a dedicated Southern Miss family that donated its 50-foot boat, Freedom, to the USM Foundation in 2000 and is now endowing a scholarship to honor the memory of Dr. Tom Benefield, who died in August.

After graduating from Southern Miss in 1982, Benefield pursued his career in eye care. He graduated from Tulane Medical School in 1986, interned at Ochsner in internal medicine, and completed his residency in ophthalmology at Tulane University. A Gulfport native, he and his wife, Patricia '82, moved back to Gulfport to open Benefield Eye Care, PC, a total eye care practice that provides customized eye surgery.

Presently, Benefield is serving his second term as chief of staff at Gulport Outpatient Surgery Center and is on staff at several other hospitals on the Gulf Coast. He is a clinical professor of ophthalmology at Tulane and is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. He is a past president of the Mississippi Ophthalmology Society, MEENT, which presented him with the Outstanding Service Award in 1999. The American Board of Ophthalmology certified him twice. Benefield also held positions with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Mississippi State Medical Association, and he received the AMA Physician Recognition Award.

A life member of the Southern Miss Alumni Association, Benefield served as the Harrison County chapter's president in 1992, and his wife, Patricia, served in 2000. Together they received the Outstanding Service Award in 1996. Benefield was on the Association's international board of directors from 1994-1996 and 1999-2002, serving as president for 2000-2001. He is a member of the Eagle Club, the Founder's Society, and the USM Foundation Honors Club President's Circle.

Benefield comes from a family of Southern Miss alumni that includes his father, Dr. Tom Benefield '53, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989; brother, Dr. Boyd Benefield '78; sister, the Rev. Rachel Benefield-Pfaff '85; and mother, Elinor Benefield, a devoted Golden Eagle fan. He and Patricia have three children: Hannah, 17, Hayley, 15, and Hattie, 7.

Dr. Robert S. Boothe '58

A retired associate professor and chair for the Southern Miss Department of Management, Dr. Bob Boothe has devoted his career to sharing his knowledge of business management and serving his country. After graduating from Southern Miss in 1958, he received a master's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama in 1966 and a doctorate in business administration from Florida State University in 1980. He taught business and management courses at six universities during his career as a professor and was named Lambda Chi Alpha Teacher of the Year for 1986-1987.

After earning merit as a distinguished military graduate from the U.S. Army Reserve Officers Training Corps, Boothe was commissioned in 1958 as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served as a field artillery officer until 1978, and his tours of duty included Germany and Vietnam. From 1967-1978, Boothe served as an operations research analyst for the Department of Defense.

Currently, Boothe is the president of TABS Managerial Consultants and is a member of B Company Consultants. A private consultant, he specializes in management training for more than 20 companies.Boothe's works are published in numerous referenced journals, professional reports, proceedings and papers, and he reviews journals and books for numerous publishing companies. His honors include participating in a research grant, earning certification in production and inventory management, and being named an honorary member of the Mississippi Society of Certified Public Managers.

In addition to his life membership with the Alumni Association, Boothe is involved with many professional and honorary organizations, including the Academy of Management, Alpha Pi Mu, Beta Gamma Sigma, the Decision Sciences Institute, Delta Sigma Pi, Kappa Mu Epsilon, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Eta Sigma, Sigma Iota Epsilon and Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.

Boothe attended Southern Miss (then Mississippi Southern College) on a basketball scholarship and was the first male in his family to graduate from college. During his last years of work at Southern Miss, he also served as the faculty athletics representative. Boothe and his wife, Sandra, reside in Hattiesburg. They have three married children - Tommy, Barbara and Mary - and four grandchildren.

Rep. Lee Jarrell Davis '68

Mississippi state Rep. Lee Jarrell Davis is devoted to serving his community, state and country, and his loyalty can be traced back to his time at Southern Miss. Davis' academic career was interrupted in 1962 when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He served four years in Japan and Taiwan in the Air Force Security Service and was able to resume his formal education in 1966.

After receiving his bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis in personnel management in 1968, Davis began his professional career with Jasper Ewing and Sons in Jackson. He served as a sales representative for 12 years. In 1980, he and his wife, Judy, opened their own business in Hattiesburg, J&L Sales, an advertising specialty company, which they still operate today.

Davis was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1991 and has served in this position for 13 consecutive years. He sits on many committees for the Mississippi House and is chairman of the Investigation of State Offices Committee.

An active member of the Alumni Association, Davis received the Outstanding Service Award in 1976. He was president of the Alumni Association's Forrest County chapter for 1977-1978. Davis serves his community through his involvement with the Civitan Club. He is a charter member of the University Civitan Club and is a past governor of the Magnolia District Civitan Club. He is also a past president for the Sales and Marketing Executives of Hattiesburg.

Davis, a native of Seminary, is a member of Heritage United Methodist Church. He and his wife, Judy, have two daughters - Traci '93 and Kim '97 - and they all reside in Hattiesburg.

Dr. Ronald A. Graham '65, '72

When Dr. Ron Graham received his bachelor's degree in 1965, he graduated, with honors, first in his college. His professional career path was equally as successful as he is an orthopedic surgeon based on the Gulf Coast.

Graham applied his leadership abilities to one of his earlier professions as president of Graham Supply Company Inc. and as director of Southeastern Distributors Inc., a multimillion dollar distributor of automotive and industrial parts. In 1985, Graham began practicing orthopedic surgery in Tupelo, and later in Greenville and Gulfport, where he remains today. His current practice is at Orange Grove Bone and Joint Clinic, with staff privileges at clinics and hospitals across the Gulf Coast. He is also licensed in Georgia.

Graham continued his formal education at Southern Miss by completing a master's degree in economics. He later received a doctorate of medicine from the University of Mississippi Medical School and completed his orthopedic residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Graham extended his studies overseas. He completed a trauma fellowship at the University of Ulm in West Germany in 1983.

Sharing the knowledge of his field, Graham participated in research studies for major corporations, including 3M Corporation, Video Systems Corporation and Masonite Corporation. His studies on carpal tunnel syndrome were published in 1983.

Graham is a member of the Mississippi State Medical Association, the Coastal Medical Society, the American Medical Association, Southern Medical, the Southern Orthopedic Association and the Foot and Ankle Society. He belongs to Phi Eta Sigma, Delta Sigma Pi, Omicron Delta Epsilon and the Jaycees. Additionally, he was honored with the Wall Street Journal Awards for economics and finance.

His loyalty to Southern Miss is evident through his involvement in the USM Foundation and the Alumni Association. A life member of the Alumni Association, he has served both the Association and Foundation as chairman of their respective investment committees.

Graham and his wife, Charlotte, reside in Bay St. Louis.

Dr. Eddie A. Holloway '74, '75, '82, '98

Dr. Eddie A. Holloway's commitment to a student's successful personal and professional development is evident by his 25 years of service to higher education and student affairs. He believes in creating a community of scholars who are equipped with big hearts and want to serve others. A life member of the Alumni Association, Holloway personifies this role in his position as dean of students and assistant professor of psychology at Southern Miss.

Holloway's service to college students began when he was a student himself, serving as a resident hall manager and assistant for the Department of Residence Life. Prior to becoming dean, he served in many roles that required leadership and service, such as his position as counselor for the Forrest County Youth Court, William Carey College, Pine Belt Mental Health Services and University Counseling Center.

Holloway served his community as a Hattiesburg city councilman for 16 years, 12 of which he was president or vice president of the council. He was also selected as a chairman for the Leadership Training Council Board of the National League of Cities, and served on the NLC Transportation Infrastructure and Service Committee. He held membership in the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials and the board of directors of the NLC. His community and professional involvement extends to the Mississippi Municipal League, the Mississippi Counselors Association, the Mississippi Chief Student Affairs Officers Association, the Association for Student Judicial Affairs and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, among many others. He is also a consultant for Holloway and Associates, located in Hattiesburg.

Holloway has been the recipient of such awards as the Outstanding Mississippian Award presented by the Jaycees in 1989, the Afro-American Student Organization's Outstanding Citizen Award in 2000 and the Juneteenth Committee Humanitarian Award. He has also been named an honorary inductee of the Golden Key Club.

Holloway and his wife, Sarah, reside in Hattiesburg and have two children.

Jeffrey H. O'Keefe '81

The 10th of 13 children, Jeffrey O'Keefe has made Southern Miss an integral part of his family. O'Keefe and his family have supported the university for many years through the USM Foundation, funding scholarships annually at the Hattiesburg and Gulf Coast campuses.

Before entering Southern Miss, O'Keefe attended Jackson County and Jefferson Davis junior colleges while working as a trainee at the family funeral business. He continued to enrich his business career when he entered Southern Miss in 1978. During this time, he was active with the Business Student Advisory Council and trained with Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home. He earned his bachelor's degree in business administration in 1981.

In 1983, O'Keefe returned to his family business, Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Homes Inc., and now serves as the CEO and president. A native of Biloxi, O'Keefe actively recruits students on the Gulf Coast for Southern Miss. He is a life member of the Alumni Association and is serving his second term on the USM Foundation board of directors, where he is also a member of the Investment Committee. In addition to his work with Southern Miss, he serves on the board of directors of The People's Bank in Biloxi, the advisory board for the O'Keefe Foundation, the Knight Donor Advised Committee for the Gulf Coast Community and the board of directors of Biloxi Regional Medical Center, among other state and professional organizations. He has been recognized with a number of awards including the Pine Burr Award, Silver Beaver and the Man-Youth Award.

O'Keefe's involvement on the Gulf Coast includes numerous social and civic organizations. He is serving his second term as president of the Pine Burr Area Council Boy Scouts of America, headquartered in Hattiesburg. He was the grand marshal for the Hibernia Marching Society in 1995, the grand marshal for the Shenanigan Irish Heritage Society in 2002 and is the executive vice president of the Gulf Coast Carnival Association Board, where he served as King D'Iberville in 2000. He was named the first chairman for the Leadership Board of the Boys and Girls Club, and he is affiliated with the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs and the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum in Biloxi.

O'Keefe and his wife, Georgia "Lynn," reside in Biloxi. They have three children: Jacob, Jordan and Jeffrey Jr., who is a sophomore at Southern Miss.

Abigail Bourgeois Rogers '66, '82

Abigail Bourgeois Rogers provides an invaluable service to mentally challenged children and adults. The Abbie Rogers Scholarship was established in the Department of Special Education at Southern Miss in 1982 to ensure that this service continues.

Rogers completed her bachelor's and master's degrees in special education from Southern Miss in 1966 and 1992. She dedicated her professional career to educating and encouraging people with special needs. Her service began when she worked for the Mississippi Trainable Mentally Retarded Pilot Program. Upon receiving her bachelor's degree, she was employed by the Hattiesburg Public School System. Harvard University called upon Rogers to work for its Medical Clinic on Mental Retardation in 1981. She also traveled to Evanston, Ill., to work for the Toy Library for Children with Special Needs at Kendall College. Rogers, now a retired teacher, assists the Right to Succeed Board for Adults with Mental Retardation and serves as the director of the Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp, sponsored by the Hattiesburg Civitan Club. The camp, which she founded 44 years ago, serves mentally challenged children and adults. Rogers is also an active member of the Alumni Association, having maintained her annual membership for more than 35 consecutive years.

In addition to having a scholarship established in her name, Rogers was recognized with many awards throughout her career. She received the Waldoff's Women's Achiever Award, the Hattiesburg Junior Auxiliary Volunteer of the Year, a Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Rotary Paul Harris Award, the Girl Scout Award for Outstanding Services, Special Olympics Honorary Coach, Lions Club Distinguished Citizen of the Year, the Echerd Salute to Women, the Woman's Achievement Award from Women's Forum, and she was named to the Mississippi State Society Colonial Dames XVII Century. Rogers was recognized more than four times by state and national government officials, including the governor, Senate, House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, Mississippi Republican Party and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Rogers, a Bay St. Louis native, currently resides with her husband, Louis, in Hattiesburg. They have two daughters, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Recipients of the Southern Miss Awards of Excellence include:

Outstanding Service

Mitch Brent '84

While serving as president of the Hattiesburg Metro Alumni Chapter, Mitch Brent was instrumental in the establishment of Eagle Fan Fare. Brent is a member of both the Eagle Club and Dugout Club, and is the chairman of the Southern Miss Dugout Club's drawdown to be held this spring.

A devoted alumnus, Brent has chaired annual Sigma Chi golf tournaments, which have raised more than $40,000 for the first endowed scholarship by a Southern Miss fraternity, the Stephen F. Hatten Sigma Chi Scholarship.

A charter member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, Brent has lived in Hattiesburg for 22 years, becoming an agent for Shelter Insurance in 1990.

Brent is married to the former Kellie Cartee '91. They have a son, Jonathan, and a daughter, Ansley. The Brents are Sunday school teachers at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg.

Kim Gallaspy '92, '94

Kim Gallaspy's outstanding service to the Southern Miss community is evident in her role as president of the Central Mississippi chapter of the Alumni Association. She was also a member of the association's board of directors from 2002 to 2004, serving on the event and publications committees and has participated in the Golden Eagle Advocacy Network.

Gallaspy graduated from Southern Miss in 1992 with a degree in political science and later earned her master's degree in public relations in 1994. Presently, she is the editor of Pointe Innovation magazine, a publication of the Mississippi Technology Alliance and previously served as the executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party.

Gallaspy is a member of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi and a volunteer for the Mississippi Heritage Trust. She resides in Madison.

Karl Langenbach '59

A lifetime member of the Alumni Association, Karl Langenbach is nearly as active on campus as his days as a marketing student in the 1950s. Langenbach is active in the Eagle Club and other athletic program support groups, is a season ticket holder for all Golden Eagle sports, and attends a number of special events associated with the arts.

Retired since 1997, Langenbach was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy following his 1959 graduation from The University of Southern Mississippi, where he was member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. After 10 years of active service in the U.S. Navy, Langenbach transferred to the Naval Reserve and started working for Ryder Systems. In 1979, he began working for the U.S. Treasury Department, continuing with the government entity until his retirement 18 years later. In 1987, he retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of captain.

Langenbach is a deacon at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, and is married to the former Betty Stuart '69. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

Morgan McCarty '90

From outstanding student to alumnus, Morgan McCarty's commitment to Southern Miss never tires. Upon completing his bachelor's degree in banking and finance, McCarty was selected to the Student Hall of Fame in 1990. A dedicated alumnus, he served three years on the Alumni Association's finance committee, one of which he served as chair. He is a lifetime member of the association and served on the board of directors.

McCarty is an executive officer with Regions Mortgage and manages the Regions mortgage servicing and portfolio administration center in Hattiesburg. He is a member of the Mississippi Mortgage Bankers Association.

Active in his community, McCarty is a member of the Optimist Club, serves on the Sigma Chi Fraternity House Corporation and is a member of Temple Baptist Church in Oak Grove. McCarty and his wife, Angela, have four children: Kent, Kirk, Graham and Callie.

Ira Middleberg '70

A lifetime member of the Alumni Association, Ira Middleberg is an active and involved member of the Southern Miss community. A past president of the USM Foundation, Middleberg serves on the board of directors and was member of The University of Southern Mississippi's Commission on the Future of the University. He founded an endowed scholarship at Southern Miss and at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Ga.

After earning his bachelor's degree in 1970, Middleberg completed his juris doctorate at Loyola University Law School in New Orleans, La., in 1973. He is admitted to practice law in Louisiana, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Middleberg is a senior partner in the law firm of Middleberg, Riddle & Gianna, established in 1980, with offices in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, La., Dallas, Texas, and Austin, Texas.

He is a former assistant city attorney for the City of New Orleans and he is the judge pro tempore for the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court and the general counsel to the New Orleans Aviation Board. He is also the former special counsel to the attorney general for the state of Louisiana and is the co-chairman of the Policy and Planning Subcommittee of the Visiting Committee of Loyola University, School of Law.

Helping to enrich the New Orleans culture, Middleberg serves on the board of directors for Le Petit Theatre Du Vieux Carre and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Middleberg has two sons, Benjamin, a graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and Aaron, who also attended Southern Miss.

Keith Mooney '80

Keith Mooney was able to show his black and gold pride in the city of purple and gold in Baton Rouge, La. While a resident of Baton Rouge, Mooney served as alumni chapter president and Eagle Club director for that area. Now a resident of West Point, Miss., he continues his service as the Eagle Club district director and alumni chapter president for the Golden Triangle.

After graduating from Southern Miss in 1980, Mooney worked for more than 16 years for Premier Bank of Baton Rouge in many capacities. In the position of fixed income portfolio manager, he accomplished his most prominent achievement. Publications such as USA Today, Money Magazine and U.S. Banker recognized Mooney for having the No. 1 bank-managed intermediate bond fund from 1989 to 1994. Presently, Mooney is the senior vice president and division manager for the Investment Services Division of National Bank of Commerce.

Mooney is highly involved in his community through the Episcopal Church in West Point and the Rotary Club, where he is a former treasurer. Mooney and his wife, Karen, have two children, Andrew, 14, and Ashley, 10.

Pete Walley '85

Pete Walley has always shown his Golden Eagle pride. As a student, he became a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity and was captain of the Southern Miss rugby team for two years. Now a dedicated alumnus, he is the vice president of the South Central Mississippi chapter of the Alumni Association, served on the "Go Gold!" Committee and volunteers his time as a rugby coach.

Once Walley received his bachelor's degree in geology in 1985, the Southern Miss Air Force ROTC program commissioned him into the U.S. Air Force. He served for seven years with the Air Force and achieved the rank of captain. Currently, he serves in the Air Force Reserves as unit commander for MS Detachment 2-10, Selective Service System.

Walley is the company president of Walco Oil Company and the chairman of the Hattiesburg-Laurel Subway local advertising board. In this position, he is sure to incorporate Southern Miss in the company plans. Last year, Subway spent more than $34,000 in advertisements and sponsorships for the university.

An active member of First Baptist Church of Richton, Walley serves on the youth ministry team and is a Sunday school teacher for high school boys. He is also a member and former president of the Richton Rotary Club. Walley and his wife, Ninette, have two children, Brandon, 18, and Jason, 16.

Continuous Service

Richard "Dickie" Dunaway '69

A true Golden Eagle in many ways, Dickie Dunaway shows his Southern Miss pride as a former student and athlete, and now, as a dedicated alumnus. A Southern Miss all-time letterwinner from 1964 to 1966, Dunaway punted for the football team. He was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the M-Club, Kappa Alpha fraternity, and ROTC Military Science.

Since graduating in 1969, Dunaway stayed involved with the university. He is a life member of the Alumni Association, a member of Eagle Club and is an alumnus of the M-Club. Active with the USM Foundation, he is a member of the Honor Club, the Founder's Society and the board of directors. He was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and is a former president of the Alumni Association's Gulf Coast chapter. Every year, he hosts receptions for Gulf Coast high school juniors interested in attending Southern Miss. One of Dunaway's favorite Southern Miss traditions is tailgating at ballgames.

Dunaway is president of Dunaway Glass Inc., which he founded in Gulfport more than 33 years ago. He now has stores along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is a member of the Gulf Coast Carnival Association, The Revelers and Les Cavaliers, and the Gulfport Yacht Club.

A native of Gulfport, Dunaway and his wife, Nancy, have three children - daughter, Denise, son, Damon, and stepson, Ryan - and one granddaughter, Vivian Caffee.

Elijah Jones '77

The inspiring story of Elijah Jones' career path began after he earned his bachelor's degree in radio, television and film from Southern Miss in 1977. A consecutive Dean's List honoree, Jones believes he was unable to obtain the job of his dreams due to his size and weight.

It was 1979 when Jones said that he "hit (his) brick wall," referring to his weight. He decided to begin a vigorous weight loss program and within 18 months, he lost 300 pounds. At this time, he became a fan of the 1980s television program The Richard Simmons Show, which helped him reach his final, ideal weight.

After writing and sharing his success with Simmons, Jones received an invitation from Simmons and the show's producers to visit Los Angeles, Calif., and be a guest on the show. Jones was so impressed with Los Angeles, he decided to live there. Simmons, after discovering that Jones had moved to Los Angeles, offered him a job working for the television show and a professional partnership was born that has endured to this day. Since that time, Jones has worked for Simmons in various capacities, starting out as audience coordinator for the show, then as editor of Simmons' newsletter, Living It! and finally, in 1987, he became Simmons' personal manager.

A native of Hattiesburg, Jones never forgot his ties to Southern Miss. He was involved with the USM Foundation and served on the Alumni Association's board of directors. He participated in establishing the Clyde Kennard Scholarship Fund and served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of the University.

In 1994, after 12 years in Los Angeles, Jones returned to Hattiesburg. He continues to work for Simmons as a special assistant, working on Simmons' Web site and maintaining special writing duties.

Hon. Edwin Pittman '57

Ed Pittman's dream of a becoming a successful politician, cultivated during his time as a Southern Miss student, became a reality - in more ways than one.

During his 40 years of service to the state, Pittman was among a scarce group, a politician who had the training and experience to serve in all three branches of government. With a double major in history and government and a minor in speech, Pittman laid the groundwork for his lengthy career as a state leader.

After earning a law degree, Pittman's dream became a reality. From 1964 to1972, he served in the Mississippi Senate. Four years later, he became state treasurer. From there, he stayed in the executive branch, becoming secretary of state from 1980 to1984. He then served as attorney general from 1984 to1988.

With 24 years of service in state government, Pittman decided to make a run for a seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court. In 1989, he was elected, and after 12 years of service, he became chief justice.

During his time as chief justice, Pittman was credited for making the court's proceedings more accessible to the public. Dockets from the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals were posted on the court's Web site, and Supreme Court oral arguments were broadcast over the Internet. Electronic and photographic coverage of court proceedings were also allowed.

Pittman retired on March 31, 2004. He and his wife, Virginia, reside in Jackson, where he is of counsel with the Danks, Dye, Mills & Pittman law firm. They have seven children.

Carolyn Smith '57, '68

After earning her bachelor's degree in 1957 and her master's degree in 1968, Carolyn Smith worked for many years in education. She retired from Quitman Public Schools in 1997 and served her last 12 years as assistant to the superintendent.

A former recipient of the Outstanding Service Award and a member of the Alumni Association's Hall of Fame, Smith continues to serve the Southern Miss community. She is a life member of the association, past president of her local chapter and served as the international president of the association in 1985. Presently, she serves as vice chairperson on the Past Presidents Council. She is also a member of the Eagle Club and the Alumni Association Scholarship Committee.

Smith is an active member of the First United Methodist Church in Quitman and serves on its board of trustees. She and her husband, Ray, have two children and three grandchildren.

Ben Willoughby '62

A supporter of Southern Miss and Hattiesburg, Ben Willoughby dedicates his career and involvement to enhancing these communities. A 1962 graduate of Southern Miss, Willoughby coached high school football for two years before starting his career in sales. From 1979 to 1993, he served as the director of Eagle Club. Following this position, he worked as the director of the Forrest County Multi Purpose Center for more than three years.

Willoughby is highly involved with Southern Miss athletics. He has served as the president of the M-Club for the past two years and is now serving as the president of the Dugout Club at Southern Miss. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoys hunting and fishing at every opportunity and writes outdoor articles for several local papers. He also has an outdoor call-in spot on Rock 104.5 in Hattiesburg every morning.

Willoughby and his wife, Tommie, are retired and live in Oak Grove. They have two daughters, Debbie and Vicki, and three grandsons.

Outstanding Young Alumnus

Judie Kochenower '93

A native of Texas, Kochenower found her way to Southern Miss to continue the legacy that her mother, Ann, had started. She currently serves as the senior accountant at Corner Stone Services Group Inc.

Involved in her community, Kochenower is a member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Committee, the Houston Farm and Ranch Club Committee and St. Timothy's United Methodist Church.

Kochenower also dedicates her service to the Southern Miss community. She has served as the Southern Miss Alumni Association's Houston chapter president and vice president. She has also received the Outstanding Service Award and the Scott Caldwell Chapter President of the Year Award. Kochenower also served as the Eagle Club district director, is on the Alumni Association board of directors and is chair of the Southern Miss Alumni Cookbook Committee.

Her husband, Chris, serves as the official "yell leader" at the Southern Miss game-watching parties in Houston.

Special Service

Raymond "Butch" Brown

A native of Hattiesburg, Butch Brown's ties to his country and community are strong. A friend of Southern Miss, Brown is active with the Alumni Association, including long-term support of the association's homecoming golf tournament, and he considers Southern Miss athletics as one of his top hobbies.

Brown attended Jones County Junior College and completed a degree in horology in 1968. This year was also an eventful year for Brown because he was drafted into the U.S. Army and married Gail Dudley. During his service in the Army, he toured for one year in Vietnam. Brown says he was happy to return home to his wife, Hattiesburg and his business, Parris Jewelers.

In 1960, Brown started working for Parris Jewelers. He has continuously worked at this business, and Brown and his wife purchased Parris Jewelers in the spring of 1983.

Brown and his wife, Gail, reside in Hattiesburg and have two sons, Scott and Derrick, a student at Southern Miss.

Dr. Virginia Crawford

Dr. Virginia Crawford dedicates her services to the entire Southern Miss community, including alumni and students. For the past 15 years, she has served as the medical director for the Southern Miss Student Health Service and is currently serving as interim director of the University Counseling Service.

Crawford earned her bachelor's degree from Mississippi College in 1979, completed her medical degree at the University of Mississippi in 1983 and finished her internal medical residency in 1986. She is board certified in internal medicine and adolescent medicine.

Fulfilling one of her many roles in student and alumni organizations, Crawford can be easily found on campus. She served on the USM Foundation board from 1999 to 2002 and is involved with Eagle Club. She is the co-chair of the United Way, faculty adviser for Alpha Delta Pi and Sigma Phi Epsilon, a sponsor for Alpha Epsilon Delta and a member of the Medical Technology Advisory Committee.

More than just a soccer mom, Crawford says she enjoys taking part in her sons' activities by being a swim, band and football mom, too. She and her husband, Dr. Howell Crawford '79, have three children: Zach, 17, Clay, 14, and Ellis, 12.

Ken Strickland

A longtime supporter of Southern Miss and the surrounding community, Ken Strickland incorporates his business with Southern Miss activities at almost every given opportunity.

Strickland is the owner of Strick's Bar-B-Q and Catering, a local restaurant with a nationwide reputation for delicious barbecue and smoked meats. A Hattiesburg establishment since 1980, Strick's is a notable part of Southern Miss events. Strickland said that his family and entire staff are proud to be a part of Southern Miss' continued success.

In addition to having his barbecue served across the city on every football weekend, Strickland mad a special commitment to the Alumni Association by providing the lunch for golfers at the Alumni Association's homecoming golf tournament. His support has helped the association generate more than $80,000 for The Legacy Fund in the last few years.

He believes the university has also been important to the success of his business. Strickland says that supporting the university in any way possible should be on the front burner of any successful business plan.

Strickland and his wife, Tricia, reside in Hattiesburg and have three sons, Dustin, Britton and Carrington.

Friend of Southern Miss

Sen. Trent Lott

As Sen. Trent Lott serves his country on behalf of the state of Mississippi, he equally represents and supports Southern Miss. As he enters his fourth decade of service in the U.S. Congress, Lott has served seven presidential administrations.

Lott's congressional career includes 16 years in the House of Representatives and 14 years in the Senate. He created the House of Representatives first modern whip organization, which he led in 1981. After his election to the Senate in 1988, Lott served as Senate majority leader in 1996 and 1998. In the 108th Congress, Lott chairs the Aviation Subcommittee within the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which oversees the security and stability of the nation's aviation industry. He also chairs the powerful Rules Committee. He is a member of the Finance Committee, which oversees tax and health care policy, and serves on the Select Committee on Intelligence.

In support of Southern Miss, Lott requested the funding from the federal budget for the Innovation and Commercialization Center. This bill for the 2005 fiscal year appropriates $1 million for ongoing development of the center, which is a joint project of the Area Development Partnership and Southern Miss. It will help the Hattiesburg community to build upon its polymer industry and attract additional technology companies. Lott also assisted the development of the 2005 Senate Defense Bill for Mississippi, which provides $1 million for the development of fire-retardant resins for Navy ships. Southern Miss and Hybrid Plastics are leading this initiative. Due to his long-standing commitment to Southern Miss, the university's proposed National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship, to be located on the Hattiesburg campus, will be named in Lott's honor.

A Grenada native, Lott earned his bachelor's degree and juris doctorate from the University of Mississippi. He and his wife, Tricia, have two children, Chester and Tyler, and four grandchildren.

Meritorious Service

John Polk '71

After earning his bachelor's degree in 1971, John Polk has stayed connected to his alma mater in many facets. Presently, he is a member of the Alumni Association, Eagle Club, Hardwood Club and Business Advisory Council for the College of Business and Economic Development. The association honored Polk's dedication to Southern Miss with the Outstanding Service Award, the Continuous Service Award and an induction into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 1998.

In addition to his present service to the university, Polk receives this meritorious award in honor of his former service as president of the Jefferson Davis County Alumni chapter, member of the Alumni Association board of directors, president and vice president of the association, ex-officio member of the USM Foundation, chairman of the search committee for executive director of the association, member of the Commission on the Future of the University and chairman of the Past Presidents Council for the Alumni Association.

Polk is the president and CEO of Polk's Meat Products Inc. of Magee and is active with tree farming. His professional affiliations include the Mississippi Restaurant Association and the Mississippi Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores Association. Polk volunteers his time to civic services through the Simpson County Economic Development Foundation and the Magee Chamber of Commerce. He formerly served on the board of directors for the Jefferson Davis County Hospital, Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce, where he also held the position of president.

An active member of Prentiss Baptist Church, Polk was the chairman of the Deacon Council, personnel committee and finance committee and participated on many other church committees. Polk and his wife, Jan '74, reside in Hattiesburg and have two children, Brian and Julie '00, and a brand new grandson, Barrett Allen.


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November 23, 2004 9:23 AM