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