The University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association inducted seven of the university’s most dedicated and distinguished volunteers into its Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 21 as one of the highlights of the 2011 homecoming celebration.
The inductees include:
Fred Adams ‘54
Fred Adams Jr. is currently the chairman of the Board of Directors of Cal-Maine Foods Inc., a company he formed in 1969. Prior to this position, Adams served as the chief executive officer of the company from its formation until October 2010, when his son-in-law, Adolphus B. Baker, became CEO.
Adams, a native of Noxubee County, graduated from Macon High School in 1949. He enrolled at East Mississippi Community College and played football under Coach Bull Sullivan. He enlisted in the Mississippi National Guard while at EMCC, and his unit was activated in August 1950. After basic training at Ft. Benning and training at Ft. Sam Houston, Adams was assigned to a medical unit in Germany during the Korean War.
After being discharged from the Army in May 1952, Adams again enrolled at East Mississippi Community College, where he was on the football and baseball teams in 1949 and 1952. He graduated in 1953, with a major in business. Adams then transferred to Southern Miss and graduated with a marketing and business degree in 1954. After graduation, he was employed by Ralston Purina Company as a feed salesman until 1957.
In 1957, Adams started his own business in Jackson, which involved feed sales and chicken and egg production. In 1969, Adams merged his business with an egg company in California and another in Maine to form Cal-Maine Foods Inc., headquartered in Jackson. Cal-Maine Foods, which is the largest producer and marketer of fresh shell eggs in the United States, is a publicly owned company listed on the NASDAQ Exchange (CALM).
Adams and his wife Jean live in Jackson. He and his first wife Dorothy, who passed away in 1993, had four daughters. Adams’ current wife and her first husband Bobby Morris, who died in 1992, had three daughters and two sons. In combining the two families, Adams and Jean have 21 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Adams and his wife are members of Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson.
Raylawni Branch ‘94
Mississippi pioneer of the African-American civil rights movement, Lt. Col. Raylawni Gloria A. Branch is best known for her leading role in the peaceful integration of The University of Southern Mississippi in 1965.
In the early 1960s, Branch became extremely active in the civil rights movement and participated in the Aug. 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, at which she was one of 250,000 present to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Branch integrated the Greyhound Lines and Trailways Transportation System bus stations in Hattiesburg and was the first African-American hired at the local Big Yank clothing factory. She also became the first African-American offered a position as a switchboard operator at the local telephone company.
At age 24, while secretary for the Forrest County NAACP, Branch was recruited to integrate Southern Miss. On Sept. 6, 1965, she and 18-year-old Hattiesburg native Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong became the first two African-American students at Southern Miss, where they attended classes accompanied by six bodyguards.
Majoring in pre-medicine, Branch held a work-study job on campus in the biology department, but attending the university did not prove to be an easy task. The NAACP offered to pay her tuition but not living expenses – a factor which led the mother of three young children to withdraw after the first year.
Branch then relocated to New York on a full scholarship. In March of 1969, Branch received her diploma in nursing from St. John’s Episcopal School of Nursing in New York City and later a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Miami in 1984.
In 1975, Branch joined the Air Force Reserve, serving at McGuire Air Force Base as a flight nurse, Charleston Air Force Base as a flight nurse and flight nurse instructor, and Homestead Air Force Base as an operating room supervisor and chief nurse. She rose to the position of Lieutenant Colonel, and her last assignment was at Keesler Air Force Base. During her successful military career, Branch was also stationed at Lowry Air Force Base, was qualified on three aircrafts, and is a Veteran of Foreign Wars.
Branch and her husband Alfred have been married for 43 years, raised five children, and have worked many years in civilian health institutions in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Mississippi.
Branch returned to Hattiesburg in 1987 and enrolled in a master’s program at Southern Miss the following year. In 1994, she received a Master of Science in community health nursing, with a minor in nursing education.
Branch worked as a nursing instructor at Pearl River Community College, a nurse coordinator for the American Red Cross (ARC) of South Central Mississippi, and has been a reservist for the national ARC, working many national disasters. In 2003 Branch ran for the Mississippi State Senate as a Republican and in 2004 retired from her instructor of nursing position at Southern Miss.
Peter Rogers ‘57
Among the elite in public relations and advertising, Peter Rogers was born and bred in Hattiesburg. As a youngster, Rogers had an after-school job creating window displays for a local department store. The owner, who recognized Rogers’ remarkable talent, encouraged him to move to New York to pursue his gift in length.
Before his move to the Big Apple, Rogers attended Southern Miss from 1953-57. He then spent two years in the United States Army in Germany prior to moving to New York in 1959 to pursue a career in advertising.
Upon moving to New York, Rogers’ first roommate was the nephew of playwright Tennessee Williams. Williams introduced Rogers to the sophisticated style that was New York City, and he never looked back.
After 10 years of working for various advertising agencies, Rogers founded Peter Rogers Associates in 1974. Rogers’ agency built its reputation on positioning luxury products with simple graphics and some of the most memorable tag lines in advertising history. “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good”; “When your own initials are enough”; “Danskins are not just for dancing” and “What becomes a legend most?” are merely a few of the slogans developed by Peter Rogers Associates.
Rogers’ client list included famous names such as Vidal Sassoon, Pierre Cardin, Gloria Vanderbilt, Bill Blass, Bulgari, Baccarat and Elle Magazine to name a few. Rogers has appeared editorially in various consumer magazines including Time, People, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine and Town and Country.
After a highly successful advertising career that expanded more than 50 years, Rogers closed Peter Rogers Associates and built a house in Litchfield County, Conn. where he devoted his time to portrait painting. He maintains an apartment in New York City, where he is a founding member of “Fete de Swifty,” the mayor’s fund to advance New York City.
In 2009, Rogers was inducted into the Southern Miss Mass Communication and Journalism Hall of Fame.
On July 20, 2010 Rogers fulfilled his lifetime dream and bought a house in the New Orleans French Quarter, where he now calls home. In the early part of 2012, his home will be featured in Architectural Digest.
Gloria Taylor ‘66, ‘67 and ‘70
Born in St. Louis, Mo., Dr. Gloria Taylor graduated from high school in 1944. After completing her freshman year at St. Louis University, she left school to contribute to the home workforce during World War II through employment at Monsanto Chemical Company.
In 1952, she married the late C.J. “Pete” Taylor, longtime Southern Miss head baseball coach, who was then head football coach at St. Louis U. High School. In the summer of 1955, the family, which included two children, moved to Hattiesburg where her husband became an assistant football coach at then Mississippi Southern College. For their first three years in Hattiesburg, the family lived on campus in McClesky Hall. Taking advantage of the nearby classroom buildings, Taylor began taking courses toward a degree in education.
While pursuing her undergraduate degree, among other organizations, Taylor was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the oldest and largest collegiate honor society dedicated to the recognition and promotion of academic excellence in all disciplines, where she was a board member, initiation chairman, president and nominated for southeast regional vice president.
In 1966, 11 years after beginning her coursework, Taylor received a B.S. degree. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA and was awarded the Phi Kappa Phi Silver Bowl. By this time, the Taylor family had moved into a home off-campus and had grown to five children. Taylor continued to enroll in classes at Southern Miss, earning an M.S. in 1967 and an Ed.D. in 1970.
In 1967, while in graduate school, the Department of Business Education hired Taylor as an instructor. In 1970 she became an assistant professor and eventually associate professor with tenure. Following 20 years of teaching, Taylor retired in 1989.
All five of Taylor’s children graduated from Southern Miss, and the family has earned a total of 13 degrees from the University.
Taylor has been a member of the Southern Miss Alumni Association since 1966 and is a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hattiesburg, where she has been a chairman and served on the education council and home visitation committee.
Carlos Tolosa ‘73
Longtime Harrah’s Entertainment executive J. Carlos Tolosa could not speak a word of English when he first visited the United States as a teenager in the late 1960s. In 1969 he came to study English at the Latin American Institute (later changed to the English Language Institute) at Southern Miss and ultimately earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1973.
Tolosa’s rise to prominence within the entertainment industry epitomizes the “American Dream.” He began his professional career in 1971 at the Holiday Inn South in Hattiesburg and held various management positions with Holiday Inns Inc., a former parent company of Harrah’s Entertainment, across the country in cities ranging from Las Vegas to Honolulu to Miami. In 1993 he rose to the position of chief operating officer and senior vice president of operations for Embassy Suites Hotels, a division of Promus Hotels, also a former parent company of Harrah’s.
Throughout his career, Tolosa was a member of the Senior Management Team, Compliance Committee, Capital Committee and a director of The Harrah’s Foundation. He spent 40 years with Harrah’s in a variety of roles, ultimately retiring in January of 2010 as president of the Eastern Division. Harrah’s Entertainment has more than 80,000 employees with 54 casinos located on five different continents. Tolosa oversaw operations for one-third of the empire.
In 2010, Tolosa was honored as the Boardman Distinguished Alumnus of the Year from The University of Southern Mississippi College of Business as he represents everything that’s great about the United States and the role Southern Miss plays in educating students.
Tolosa is active in the professional board of St. Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis and is on the board of his homeowner’s association. Additionally, Tolosa serves on the Business Advisory Council for the College of Business at Southern Miss, which is made up of outstanding business leaders from around the country who support the College and its efforts for national recognition as a top-ranked business school.
Tolosa is married to Judith Ann Tolosa. They reside in Dallas and have two children and three grandchildren.
Donnie Tynes ‘75
A Life Member of the Alumni Association, Donnie Tynes has been a dedicated Association volunteer, serving on the finance committee for multiple years. Tynes previously held the title of finance committee chairman in 2009-10, and the Association recently welcomed him back as the finance committee chair for 2011-12, where he is currently serving on the Association’s executive board.
Tynes is a loyal member of the Eagle Club, serving as treasurer of the Central Mississippi chapter for more than two decades, while maintaining memberships in the Wings and Dugout Club.
This 1975 graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi was awarded the Continuous Outstanding Service Award by the Association in 2010. Tynes graduated with honors from Southern Miss with a bachelor of science in business administration with an emphasis in banking and finance. During his time at Southern Miss, Tynes was a member of the tennis team and Phi Eta Sigma freshmen honor society and served on the Business Students Advisory Council.
In 1986, Tynes received a certificate in professional accounting from Mississippi College. He became licensed as a certified public accountant in 1988 and graduated from the Graduate School of Banking of the South in 1991.
He has worked with Trustmark Bank since 1975 and is currently the bank’s first vice president and director of external reporting. Prior to this role, Tynes worked his way up a corporate ladder of success, beginning in the bank’s management trainee program.
In 1977 he became an assistant cashier and was promoted to assistant vice president in 1979. Tynes then became the vice president of accounting in 1983 and the vice president and assistant controller in 1985. In 1998 he was asked to be the vice president and director of external reporting, and in 2003 was transitioned into his current role.
Tynes resides in Madison with his wife Barbara Schuler Tynes, to whom he has been married for 32 years. They have one son, Darren, a 2011 Southern Miss graduate. Tynes attends the Cathedral of St. Peter’s in Jackson, where he and his wife have served as eucharistic ministers as well as chairman of the Silent Auction Committee. Donnie is the son of Jean and the late Dub Tynes of Tylertown and a 1971 honors graduate of Tylertown High School.
Andrew Wiest ’82, ‘84
The founding director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at The University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Andrew Wiest was born in Chicago but raised in Hattiesburg.
A professor of history at Southern Miss, Wiest was named the Charles W. Moorman Distinguished Alumni Professor in the Humanities by the College of Arts and Letters in 2010. The professorship, named after one of Wiest’s former professors, is awarded biennially for a two-year term to a senior professor in the departments of English, history, foreign languages or philosophy. In addition to the award, Wiest received financial support for research on his new book, The Boys of ’67, Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam, to be released next year by Osprey Press, and will present a public lecture at the end of his term.
After attending Southern Miss for both his undergraduate and master’s degrees, Wiest went on to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Chicago, in 1990. Specializing in the study of World War I and Vietnam, Wiest has served as a visiting senior lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in the United Kingdom and as a visiting professor in the Department of Warfighting Strategy in the United States Air Force Air War College.
Since 1992 Wiest has been active in international education, leading a study-abroad program on World War II to London and Normandy each summer, and developing the award-winning Vietnam Study-Abroad Program.
Wiest has published 14 books on various topics in the field of military history, including Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN (New York University Press, 2008), which won the Society for Military History’s Distinguished Book Award – the highest award in the field.
He has presented his research at conferences and at invited talks both nationally and internationally, has appeared on several documentaries for the History Channel, Granada Television and Lucasfilms, and has served as a commentator on military events for national news outlets including the San Francisco Chronicle and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He served as lead historian for the History Channel’s soon to be released Vietnam in HD.
Wiest lives in Hattiesburg with his wife Jill and their three children, Abigail, Luke and Wyatt.