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USM Honors Hewes and Barker as Alumni of Year

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 06:30am | By: Van Arnold

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) College of Business and Economic Development and its Business Advisory Council has chosen Billy Hewes as the 2019 Boardman Alumnus of the Year and Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker as the Young Alumnus of the Year.

Both were honored during a luncheon held Friday, Nov. 15 at the Trent Lott National Center on USM’s Hattiesburg campus.

“The Alumni of the Year is an important event that allows the college to honor some of its many successful graduates, recognizing impressive professional achievements," said Dr. Bret Becton, dean of the USM College of Business and Economic Development. "Billy Hewes and Toby Barker have worked diligently to get to where they are today and it is our privilege to call them our Alumni of the Year.”

Hewes earned his bachelor’s degree in personnel management from USM in 1960. Upon graduation, Hewes began working for Armco Steel Corporation in the National Supply Division, working his way up to becoming a tubular field engineer in Armco’s Steel Division.

In 1969, Hewes moved home to Gulfport, Miss., where he and his brother, Charley, opened Hewes Brothers Department Store in downtown Gulfport. After more than 10 years of being president and general manager, Billy sold his interest in Hewes Brothers Department Store and became an insurance agent for Nationwide Insurance.

While at Nationwide, he earned numerous awards, including Challenger, Executive and Presidents Club designations. He was also recognized as Agent of the Year in 1980 for Nationwide’s South Central Region. While working in insurance, Hewes entered the real estate business in 1987 as the broker for Billy Hewes Real Estate. Hewes retired from Nationwide Insurance in 1998 and still owns and operates Billy Hewes Real Estate today.

Hewes was inducted into the Southern Miss Hall of Fame in 2014. He is a member of the Southern Miss Alumni Association, Eagle Club, Honor Club and the Great Southern Club.

Mayor Barker was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives to represent District 102. At that time, he became the youngest legislator and first Millennial elected to the House. At 37, he now serves as the 35th mayor of Hattiesburg. Barker moved to Hattiesburg in 2000 to attend USM. After earning his bachelor’s degree in communications, he earned his Master of Science in Economic Development in 2006.

In addition to serving as an elected official, Barker is heavily involved in the Hattiesburg community. He is a Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow affiliated with the Rotary Club of Hattiesburg-Sunrise. He also serves on the Hattiesburg Public School District Foundation Board and the Avenues Alliance.