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Ole Miss News Blog Q&A: Ole Miss Alumnus, Football Great Jim Weatherly

All-SEC quarterback, writer of 'Midnight Train to Georgia' talks about Vaught, his career and flag football with famous actors

Jim Weatherly during his Ole Miss playing days.

Jim Weatherly during his Ole Miss playing days.

OXFORD, Miss. – Calling Ole Miss football great Jim Weatherly an interesting man would be an epic understatement.

Weatherly, a native of Pontotoc, played for legendary Ole Miss Coach Johnny Vaught as an All-Southeastern Conference quarterback and honorable mention All-American on the 1964 team. He was also a member of the only unbeaten and untied national championship squad in University of Mississippi history in 1962 – a team that captured the SEC championship that year and again in 1963.

But his success hasn’t been limited to football. As a professional songwriter, he penned “Midnight Train to Georgia,” which Gladys Knight and the Pips turned into one of the biggest hits of all time. His efforts led to him being elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in this year’s class alongside music legends Donovan and the Kinks’ front man Ray Davies, among others.

But that’s not all that’s interesting about Weatherly. As a hit songwriter, he also traveled in the same social circles with the elite of the music and acting industries when he lived in Los Angeles. His biggest hit song came from a phone conversation he had with Farrah Fawcett. In the 1970s and ’80s, he also played flag football with “The Six Million Dollar Man” Lee Majors and actors Mark Harmon and James Caan, among other notables.Read the story …

Alumni Couple Establishes Gift for Graduates

Weatherly Scholarship will assist accountancy graduate students

UM Provost Morris Stocks (left) greets Faye and Bob Weatherly at the Patterson School of Accountancy.

UM Provost Morris Stocks (left) greets Faye and Bob Weatherly at the Patterson School of Accountancy.

OXFORD, Miss. – Bob and Faye Weatherly know struggle. When Bob finished his master’s degree in accountancy from the University of Mississippi in 1967, he and Faye packed all their worldly belongings in a small trailer hitched to their two-door Mustang, strapped in their toddler daughter, Karman, and hit the road for Houston, Texas.

“The biggest thing in the trailer was our daughter’s baby bed,” Bob said.

Laughing, Faye said, “When we walked into our apartment in Houston, we were thrilled because it had carpet and air conditioning!”

It was luxury compared to their previous home: a two-bedroom apartment without A/C in the university’s married-student housing complex. Even this was a step up from the young family’s one-bedroom unit they inhabited upon arriving at Ole Miss for graduate school.

Tight quarters were only part of the struggle. Bob juggled his master’s level classes and homework with teaching a sophomore-level accounting class for which he would have to prepare lessons, grade papers, advise students and write out tests. Meanwhile, to support the family, Faye often worked double shifts – day and night – as an X-ray technician at Oxford’s hospital.

“We were busy and stressed and we never really had time for outside activities,” Faye recalled.

“We were on a mission when we came here: to get the master’s degree,” Bob said. “Thank goodness for Faye. She hung in there and got us through.”

The struggle was real. But it’s not a sob story, say the Weatherlys, who were high school sweethearts and were married after their sophomore year in college. Their story is simply evidence that they can relate to the difficulties many young, married families face in trying to make a better life for themselves.

“We have decided that if there is any help we can give someone who is now in the situation we were in, then that would be meaningful to us,” Bob said.

So on Oct. 21, 2015, with a pledge of $250,000, the two worked with the University of Mississippi Foundation to establish the Bobby and Faye Weatherly Accountancy Scholarship Endowment. The pledge was fulfilled in November with the transfer of shares of publicly traded stock.

The Weatherlys’ investment will be felt for generations to come, said Mark Wilder, dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy.

“We are humbled and honored by the Weatherlys’ belief in our program and profoundly grateful to them for this generous investment in our graduate students,” he said. “Their experience when Bob was in graduate school is an inspiration, as is the incredible career that he has enjoyed in the accounting field.

“The Weatherlys’ gift truly is a reflection of their desire to help others enjoy greater opportunities through graduate accountancy education.”

The Weatherly Scholarship will be awarded to full-time graduate students in the accountancy school’s master’s program, with first preference going to married students.

“At the core of our reason for doing this was that I always felt that if we hadn’t had financial help from my teaching fellowship and if Faye hadn’t shouldered a big part of the financial burden so I could go ahead and get my degree, then we wouldn’t have wound up at the same place we are now,” Bob said.

Bob credits his degree from Ole Miss as a major first step in his business career.

“It’s the financial understanding that an accounting degree gives you,” Bob said. “Having that grounding of really understanding the financial dynamics of a company is what I’ve always felt was the real value of a background in accounting. The fact that you can look at the financials and tell what’s going on with a company … that makes it worthwhile.”

After graduation, Bob immediately went to work for Arthur Andersen & Co. in Houston, then one of the nation’s top accounting firms. After working his way up to senior audit manager and having a second child, Bobby “Bo” Weatherly Jr., a major client of the firm hired Bob to be chief financial officer for their European operations and moved the family to London.

After four years overseas, the Weatherlys returned to Houston with the same company. Bob later worked for two other oil service companies as a financial officer.

In 1990, Bob worked in investment banking before being one of the founders of a venture capital fund. From 2006 until early 2015, he worked for Callon Petroleum Co. in Natchez as the company’s chief financial officer and a director.

Both the Weatherlys’ children have earned degrees from Ole Miss – Karman in speech pathology and Bo in business administration. One of their grandchildren, Blake Hagelston, completed his MBA from Ole Miss in August 2015.

The Weatherlys always wanted to retire in Mississippi, but weren’t sure where. After a trip to Oxford for Faye’s birthday, Faye said she knew Oxford would be the place.

“When you go away, you forget how beautiful it is here,” she said.

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to support the Patterson School of Accountancy by mailing a check with the endowment noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, Miss. 38655; visiting or contacting Brooke Barnes, development officer, at 662-915-1993, or

Pop Culture Meets Ole Miss

From famous and fictional alumni to movie settings and lyrics, UM is well-represented in pop culture

For a 156-year-old, well-respected institution of higher learning, the University of Mississippi has had and continues to have its fair share of connections to pop culture connections.

Many of the “biggies” in business, politics, sports and entertainment either attended or graduated from Ole Miss. Among them are Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner, New York Times best-selling author John Grisham, actresses Kate Jackson (an original “Charlie’s Angel”) and Delta Burke (“Designing Women”), songwriter Jim Weatherly (“Midnight Train to Georgia”), Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith, NFL star quarterbacks Archie and Eli Manning and offensive tackle Michael Oher (“The Blind Side”). Former Miss Americas Mary Ann Mobley, Lynda Lee Mead and Susan Akin are all alumnae. Former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott and current Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran all finished law school here.

Dozens of other notables have graced our grounds with their presence. President Barack Obama, Nobel Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie, late Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, retired NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien, just to name a few. Pop icon Katy Perry, country singer-songwriter Ronnie Dunn, actor Liam Leeson, Academy Award-nominee Woody Harrelson and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) were at the now-historic football game against the University of Alabama.

Even fictional characters are graduates of Ole Miss, including Bones McCoy of the “Star Trek” TV-movie franchise, Julia Sugarbaker of “Designing Women” and Scarlett O’Connor of “Nashville.”

The campus, officially voted one of the nation’s most beautiful, is referenced in “The Blind Side,” although the movie was not actually filmed here. The 1989 film “Heart of Dixie,” set at a fictional Alabama college, was filmed partly on campus, though.

Ole Miss is prominently mentioned in the lyrics of “Moonlight Feels Right,” a 1976 pop smash by the Atlanta-based band Starbuck.

One never knows just when and where Ole Miss may “pop” up next!