New UM Scholarship Honors a Son, Father and Friend

Crawfords create UM endowment for Eagle Scouts, business majors

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, left, visits with Paige, Terry and Cindy Crawford to thank them for the Mitchell Crawford Eagle Scout Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship will assist business students with first preference going to Eagle Scouts. UM photo by Bill Dabney

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, left, visits with Paige, Terry and Cindy Crawford to thank them for the Mitchell Crawford Eagle Scout Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship will assist business students, with first preference going to Eagle Scouts. UM photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – Achieving the Eagle Scout rank – the highest accomplishment in Scouting – reflects a level of leadership and commitment reached only by about 5 percent of Boy Scouts. Mitchell Crawford was one those proud Eagle Scouts.

Crawford, 34, died in 2011 after a five-year battle with lymphoma. Terry Crawford and his wife, Cindy, of Ocala, Florida, have committed $500,000 to create a scholarship endowment in their son’s name at the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration, with first preference going to Eagle Scouts. Both father and son earned business degrees from Ole Miss.

“After Cub Scouts, Mitchell attended a Boy Scout meeting at First Baptist Church in Ocala, which had a really strong program – one meeting and he was sold,” said Terry Crawford, founder and president of Conimar Group. “He had a great Scouting experience and learned leadership skills and life lessons.

“I was a Scout leader and continue to help with fundraising, and Mitchell and I shared a wealth of outstanding experiences. It was a natural choice to direct the first preference for my son’s scholarship to Eagle Scouts.”

Mitchell Crawford was also a Vigil member of Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s honorary society, and among his trips were those to the World Scout Jamboree in Korea, the U.S. National Jamboree and the Philmont Scout Ranch, where he and his father made a 65-mile trek, ate freeze-dried food and collected priceless memories.

“I think everyone starts out in Boy Scouting wanting to be an Eagle Scout – that’s the ultimate rank,” Terry Crawford said. “Becoming an Eagle Scout, however, requires hard work, dedication, persistence, focus and time.

“When young men are around 14 to 15 years old, there are a lot of other things competing for their time. Only those very dedicated to the goal reach it, and then those qualities they’ve developed benefit them the rest of their lives.”

Mitchell Crawford earned his Eagle Scout rank at age 16.

Mitchell Crawford earned his Eagle Scout rank at age 16.

The Mitchell Crawford Eagle Scout Scholarship Endowment also pays tribute to the lives of Mitchell’s mother, Connie Mitchell Crawford – a dedicated elementary school teacher who lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2001 – and to his great aunt, Mary Shashy Jones, for the roles they played in Mitchell’s life and the larger Crawford family, Terry Crawford said.

“I am inspired by the Crawfords’ story; what a remarkable way for a father to honor a son,” UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We are tremendously grateful to the Crawford family for their support of Ole Miss, our School of Business Administration and Eagle Scouts. This significant commitment will certainly play an important role in attracting and supporting students of Mitchell’s caliber.

“I continue to be amazed by the service, energy and contributions by our alumni and friends. They are such a vital part of our university’s sustained growth and success.”

Mitchell Crawford’s legacy will be extended through this scholarship and by his only child, 13-year-old daughter Paige, an enthusiastic Ole Miss fan who has participated in summer dance camp and enjoys visiting campus several times a year with her family. Her mom, Tara Knebel of Highland, Illinois, was a Rebelette, and Paige hopes to follow in her parents’ footsteps by making Ole Miss her college home.

“I think it’s incredible that this scholarship is named for my dad,” Paige Crawford said. “It’s good that it will help students who have worked really hard to reach their goals.”

Ken Cyree, UM dean of business administration, expressed appreciation to the Crawford family for making such significant investments in students’ lives.

“Terry Crawford obviously put a great deal of thought into how he would create a permanent tribute to the life of his son,” Cyree said. “We are extremely grateful and humbled that he chose to provide student scholarships at Ole Miss. Mitchell’s legacy will be expanded as this endowment assists many students, who will then graduate and make contributions to the business world and to their respective communities.

“I have much admiration and respect for Eagle Scouts, and the values they hold dear translate well into successful business graduates. Terry devotes a great deal of his time to serve on our Business Advisory Council, which also directly impacts students’ experiences.”

Brian Reithel, professor of management information systems, taught Mitchell Crawford in graduate-level courses and also appreciates that a scholarship bears his name.

“Mitchell and I connected quickly with each other during his time as one of my students in the MBA program at Ole Miss,” Reithel said. “Our similar backgrounds in Scouting made it easy for us to understand and respect each other right away.

“Mitchell’s outstanding character reflected his father’s exceptional strength of character and generous spirit. It is wonderful to see Mitchell remembered through this special gift to the university to help attract and retain more students who are cut from that same cloth: trustworthy, loyal, courteous, cheerful and reverent. I can’t wait to meet the future recipients of this distinctive new scholarship. We are so blessed to have Terry Crawford in the Ole Miss family.”

Mitchell Crawford had a great zest for the outdoors and was a fisherman and duck hunter, leading to his love of Labrador retrievers. During his college years, he worked as a dog trainer for former University Police Chief Mike Stewart at Wildrose Kennels in Oxford,and was very involved with training Drake, the first Ducks Unlimited mascot.

With his dog and best friend, Tucker, Crawford enjoyed countless hours of training and hunting.

Stewart remembers the first time he met the younger Crawford, who was seeking help training Tucker at Wildrose Kennels, which is nationally recognized.

“I was a one-man operation then, and Mitchell took one of my classes,” said Stewart, who tried to recruit him to a permanent role at Wildrose after his graduation and remained close friends with him until the end. “Then he started helping me with shows across the country and with the training of Drake for Ducks Unlimited. Mitchell figured out that Drake became easily bored and needed new things to capture his interest. Mitchell could read smart dogs better than anyone.

“Mitchell was this genuine, fun-loving, happy personality who was great to be around – always so positive. Mitchell loved being part of Ole Miss; he was entrenched in all things connected with his university. This is a great tribute to someone who definitely had a heart for Ole Miss.”

Mitchell Crawford was actually headed for the University of Florida, but one of his friends was awarded a golf scholarship at Ole Miss. After a long weekend accompanying his friend to Oxford, Mitchell altered his plans, recalled Terry Crawford, whose family were early pioneers in north central Florida but also visited Ole Miss with a friend and decided to make Mississippi his adopted state.

“Dad, I’ve changed my mind. I want to go to Ole Miss because of the people,” Mitchell said in a call home to Florida.

Following his graduation from Ole Miss, Crawford worked for Kraft Foods as a sales manager on the Wal-Mart sales team in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton was an Eagle Scout. At the time of his death, he had been with Kraft for 10 years, first serving as a regional sales representative in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Mitchell also was an avid sports fan who played on various intramural teams during his college years and then faithfully followed the Ole Miss and Kansas City football teams. During the last few years of his life, he participated in the annual Ole Miss fantasy football camp with his father.

He also was active in First Baptist Church of Bentonville and was survived by his wife, Shanna Crawford, and many other family members and friends.

“Mitchell never stopped believing he would overcome the beast of cancer and was such an inspiration to his family, friends, doctors, nurses and all those he met on his journey,” Terry Crawford said. “I hope there are students who will be impacted by this scholarship and will benefit from their degree and chosen profession in business.”

The Mitchell Crawford Eagle Scout Scholarship Endowment is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations. Checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the name of the scholarship noted in the memo line, can be mailed to the foundation at 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or made online at http://www.umfoundation/makeagift.

Streets Endow Scholarship to Honor Longtime UM History Professor

Education fund named after Harry P. Owens, professor emeritus and Civil War scholar

Dr. Harry P. Owens. Photo by Robert JordanPhoto by Robert Jordan

Harry P. Owens. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A recent gift from two University of Mississippi donors will provide scholarship opportunities for future UM secondary education majors while honoring Professor Emeritus Harry P. Owens, who taught history at the university for more than 35 years.

The Dr. Harry P. Owens Secondary Education Opportunity Scholarship Endowment was created with a $25,000 commitment from Bill and Ginny Street of Alabaster, Alabama.

Bill, a senior vice president at ServisFirst Bank, started his post-college career as a social studies teacher in DeSoto County in 1978 after receiving his undergraduate degree in secondary education from UM.

“The thing that I got from Harry was learning how to listen,” Bill explained. “Even if someone is on a different side (of the aisle) than you, you should hear what they have to say because you might learn something useful. I credit him with my ability to do that.”

Bill was a nontraditional college student. After initially losing interest in his studies at UM in 1969, he left the university to serve in the U.S. Navy, where he became a submarine petty officer. After being discharged in 1975, he returned to the university with two new things: a new resolve for his studies and tuition money from the G.I. Bill.

During this time, he was highly influenced by the Civil War historian. According to Bill, he and the professor just “clicked” and they bonded over their extensive interest and knowledge of Civil War history. The professor became a mentor for the sailor-turned-teacher.

Owens and his wife, MaryLou, still live in Oxford.

Bill and Ginny Street of Alabaster, Alabama (Submitted Photo)

Bill and Ginny Street. Submitted photo

“The most telling thing I can say about Bill is this: The first time I met him, I was teaching a new course that I had never taught before about the military history of the American Civil War,” Owens said. “I remember that there was Bill and one other student, who, if ever I had a single doubt in my mind about a particular fact, I could look at Bill for confirmation. He knew that much.”

Owens recently attended a meeting with Bill, Ginny and leadership from the UM School of Education, after finalizing the gift.

“Bill doing this in my name is a most gracious thing,” Owens said. “This reinforces the idea that teachers count.”

After college, Bill took a teaching and coaching job in Horn Lake, where he was named the school’s Star Teacher after his very first year in the classroom.

Although no longer a student, he kept in touch with his favorite professor. The two men often conversed via phone or would meet up when Bill and Ginny would return to the Oxford for sporting events.

To the Streets, this scholarship is also a way for the couple to help students who struggle with the tuition demands of college. Without the G.I Bill scholarship, Bill said would not have been able to afford his Ole Miss education.

A needs-based scholarship, each year recipients of the award will receive tuition support after being selected by the UM School of Education Scholarship Committee. The scholarship will support Ole Miss students majoring in secondary education.

“Harry had a profound impact on me and we want to put his name on this (scholarship),” Bill said. “We want to give someone an opportunity that they might not get otherwise. That’s what this is all about.”

Gift Reflects Longtime Pontotoc Teacher’s Passions

Berryhill scholarship will support UM students in music, education

A new scholarship endowment, named in memory of Ann Berryhill (at left, with husband Farrell), will provide financial assistance at UM for full-time entering freshmen from Pontotoc County.

A new scholarship endowment, named in memory of Ann Berryhill (at left, with husband Farrell), will provide financial assistance at UM for full-time entering freshmen from Pontotoc County.

OXFORD, Miss. – Family and friends of the late Anna (Ann) McDonald Berryhill, of Pontotoc, want to honor her memory by helping generations of future University of Mississippi students pursue their interests in music and education.

A 1951 graduate of the UM College of Liberal Arts, Berryhill returned to her hometown to teach, sharing for two decades her lifelong love of learning, specifically in the disciplines of music and history.

“Her students were like her children,” reflects Mary McDonald, daughter of Berryhill’s brother, Robert McDonald Jr. “She enjoyed history and kept boxes and boxes of family mementos and stacks of letters and postcards from her former students. 

“Even years after she quit teaching, she corresponded with many of them on a regular basis. Up until her death, she had several former students visit her in the nursing home.”

Representing her passions, the Anna McDonald Berryhill Ole Miss First Scholarship Endowment will give full-time entering freshmen from Pontotoc County financial assistance to supplement eight semesters of tuition with first preference going to students majoring in music or education.

The Ole Miss First Scholarship Program continues to provide mentoring and leadership development in conjunction with tuition assistance. Entering freshmen are selected to receive a four-year scholarship of $4,500 per year based on their high school record of academic excellence, leadership and commitment to service. Additionally, some scholarships are based on financial need, major or geographical area.

“The Ole Miss First program helps students reach their full potential as they grow into accomplished members of the community, both at Ole Miss and in the world,” said Rosie McDavid, program coordinator. “The program would not be possible without the continued support of those who understand the program’s mission to assist outstanding young people as they prepare for the future.”

Buddy Montgomery, president of First Choice Bank in Pontotoc, said the Ole Miss First program is perfectly aligned with his longtime friend’s personality.

“Mrs. Berryhill possessed the highest of moral character traits and she expected others to possess nothing less than what she expected of herself,” he said. “She would encourage and advise others, especially the younger generations, to prepare themselves by getting an education, studying diligently, being trustworthy, accountable, responsible and by working hard to pursue their dreams.”

First Choice Bank, originally First National Bank of Pontotoc, was founded by Berryhill’s grandfather, who served as president until 1926. In 1965, Berryhill’s husband, Farrell, was named president. After his death, Mrs. Berryhill was elected to the bank’s board of directors. 

“She loved the bank her grandfather founded and served its customers and employees very proudly until her health failed,” Montgomery said. “She was a very dedicated director and friend to all of us fellow board members and employees.”

Berryhill also deeply loved her community, showing her support by committing both her time and resources. She was active in the Pontotoc Historical Society and was a driving factor in turning the local post office into a museum. She also was president of the Pontotoc Hospital Auxiliary, a member of the Pontotoc Music Club and a representative of Pontotoc County for the Tupelo Community Concert Association.

Additionally, Berryhill was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a lifelong member of the First Presbyterian Church.

“Ann and Farrell had no children, so the bank, her students and her church were her life,” nephew Robert McDonald III said. “She loved music and played the organ at her church for many, many years.”

At Ole Miss, Berryhill was an active member of Delta Gamma sorority, serving as treasurer her senior year. She remained active as an adviser to the sorority after graduation, enjoying another opportunity to mentor young people toward success.

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the Anna McDonald Berryhill Ole Miss First Scholarship Endowment by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or by visiting For more information about Ole Miss First, contact Rosie McDavid at 662-915-3895 or

UM Alumnus Finishing Strong with Law School

Graduate's planned gift will benefit the school that started his career

John Gee often trains for races on the dirt paths of Henry Cowell Redwood Forest in Santa Cruz, California. Submitted photo

John Gee often trains for races on the dirt paths of Henry Cowell Redwood Forest in Santa Cruz, California. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – At 67 years old, John Gee ranks in the top 25 nationally among runners in his age group.

“I’ve got a 28-inch waist and 8 percent body fat and my resting pulse is 41 because I’m a lifetime long-distance runner,” Gee said. “I train on hills and dirt. I told everybody that running on asphalt is going to hurt them and none of them believed me. Now those guys are couch potatoes, and I’m still out beating 25-year-old kids.”

Gee has won races from 5Ks to marathons, logging more than 100,000 miles since he started running. His prizes have included ribbons, medals and trophies, and the University of Mississippi alumnus has a prize in mind for his alma mater.

Gee and his wife, Susan, have generously agreed to donate half of their testamentary estate to the UM School of Law, from which he received his Juris Doctor in 1974. His unrestricted gift may be used by the school to support scholarships, faculty programs and more.

The planned gift awards Gee membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university welcomed its first students. The society recognizes generous donors who thoughtfully provide for the university through planned and deferred gifts.

“We are very appreciative to Mr. Gee for his generosity, which will play an important role in strengthening the School of Law and help it reach new heights of excellence,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “It is gratifying that this gift will honor the education he received that helped shape the successes in his life and will create a lasting legacy to help others be successful too.”

Gee, who grew up in Pulaski, Ohio, received a political science degree from DePauw University in 1971. He enrolled at Ole Miss law school because he liked the climate and the tuition was affordable.

“I paid my own way through law school,” Gee said, “I worked on the section gang on the railroad every summer and I worked a part-time job at a plywood factory in Oxford, so I paid the whole deal myself.”

Moving to the South came with a level of culture shock, he said.

“That was the first year the law school had a lot of out-of-state law students,” he recalled. “The local guys spoke a different language, literally.

John Gee wins a recent race. Submitted photo

John Gee wins a recent race. Submitted photo

“I remember Robert Khayat was an associate professor at that time, teaching civil procedure. I was called on to talk about a particular case and I said ‘Lafayette’ County the way it’s pronounced in the North and I got a chuckle from the class.”

Additionally, Gee remembers being the only student with long hair in his first-year class.

“They were the Rebels, but I was more of a rebel than they were,” Gee said, laughing. “So I get a kick out of Ole Miss now with recent players Dexter McCluster playing football and Stefan Moody playing basketball with their long hair.”

After earning his law degree, Gee moved to Cincinnati, where he established his own practice as a plaintiff lawyer specializing in worker’s compensation cases. There, he met Susan, a court reporter, during a deposition; she’s now president of the Ohio Court Reporters Association and owns her own court reporting business.

When the Gees aren’t working, they enjoy spending time in Capitola, California, and Boulder, Colorado.

Gee says his Ole Miss legal education gave him the foundation to establish a successful career – 42 years and counting – and, for that, he’s grateful: “I’m just pleased to help out Ole Miss; the university was good to me, so I wanted to try to return the favor.”

The university is likewise grateful for him.

“We are always thrilled to know that our graduates had such a great experience here that they want to give back,” said Debbie Bell, interim dean of the School of Law. “And to give back in a way that enables us to address areas of greatest need is just exceptional. We truly appreciate Mr. Gee’s very generous planned gift.”

For information on including the university in long-term estate and financial plans, alumni and friends can visit or contact Sandra Guest, UM Foundation vice president, at 662-915-5208 or

Two UM Band Members Receive Carr Scholarships

Alumnus Jimmy Carr rewards students' dedication and talent with annual awards

UM alumnus Jimmy Carr (center) greets his 2016 scholarship recipients, Pride of the South Marching Band members James Vinson (left) and Taylor Bost at Memory House. Photo by Bill Dabney

UM alumnus Jimmy Carr (center) greets his 2016 scholarship recipients, Pride of the South Marching Band members James Vinson (left) and Taylor Bost, at Memory House. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – Each year, University of Mississippi alumnus Jimmy Carr awards scholarships to two members of the Ole Miss Pride of the South marching band. Despite this dedication, Carr never played in the band himself.

“I have always admired the dedication of the band members,” said Carr, who earned undergraduate and law degrees from Ole Miss. “In my opinion, of all the students at Ole Miss, they put the most energy into what they are passionate about and they do so without much recognition.”

Many Pride of the South Band members provide their own instruments, have spent years honing the skills they need and work many hours in all kinds of weather to be able to perform on game day.

A professional and active member of the Oxford community, Carr is glad to give back – to pay it forward to the university that supported him.

“I was fortunate to receive several small scholarships, which combined, allowed me not to have to pay any tuition during my four years of undergraduate studies,” Carr said. “I remain appreciative of the support I received.”

Each year, the Jimmy Carr State Farm Scholarship, created with the help of the State Farm Companies Foundation’s Good Neighbor Grant and Matching Gift Program, is awarded to a graduate of Oxford High School and Lafayette High School by Carr and his wife, Amanda, a UM accountancy graduate.

This year’s freshman recipients are OHS graduate James Vinson, who plays cymbals, and LHS graduate Taylor Bost, who plays clarinet.

“The fact that I was selected among such a respected group of people means more than anything to me,” said Bost, who is majoring in music.

Vinson, a mechanical engineering major, said he feels honored as well.

“The scholarship has helped a great deal with expenses that come with going to college, such as buying books for my engineering classes,” he said.

The university’s goal is to build a $2 million endowment to support band scholarships.

Gifts of all sizes combine to provide band scholarships. Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the University Marching Band Scholarship Fund by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or by visiting

For more information, contact Ron Wilson, development director, at or 662-915-1755.

Scholarship Fund Honors ‘Capt. Max’

Family, friends of Max Miller hope to establish endowment in his name

Capt. Max Miller and wife Janis enjoy a moment with their grandchildren during the Christmas 2015 season. Photo courtesy Ryan Miller

Capt. Max Miller and wife Janis enjoy a moment with their grandchildren during the Christmas 2015 season. Photo courtesy Ryan Miller

OXFORD, Miss. – Family and friends of the late Max R. Miller Jr., of Oxford, are seeking support for a scholarship fund that will honor the life of the longtime University of Mississippi administrator.

Before his death on April 22, 2016, while traveling to meet Ole Miss engineering students on a field trip, Miller had served the university for two decades, most recently as associate director of projects for the Center for Manufacturing Excellence. He had previously served as associate director of admissions and on staff in the Office of Financial Aid and Office of the Registrar.

“Through his multiple roles within the university, my father had the pleasure and privilege of working with many students in their pursuit of a quality education and finding a fulfilling career,” said Ryan Miller, CME programs manager and assistant director. “He was able to provide wonderful insight, encouragement and wisdom that helped so many students and their families in his time here at Ole Miss.”

Ryan Miller; his brother Patrick Miller of Bossier City, Louisiana; Scott Kilpatrick, CME associate director for internal operations; and Jason McCormick, a UM development officer who previously worked with Max Miller in the Office of Admissions, are raising funds to provide financial assistance to eligible Ole Miss students in any field of study. Gifts of different sizes can be made through the university’s crowdfunding site, Ignite Ole Miss, at

“The loss of our father, while devastating, has only solidified our belief that we have been called to find ways to perpetuate his acts of service for generations to come,” Patrick Miller said.

Max Miller

Max Miller

The project owners hope to raise at least $25,000, enough to establish an endowment in Max Miller’s name, memorializing him among generations of future Ole Miss students.

A native of Bakersfield, California, Max Miller chose to pursue a career of service by attending the California Maritime Academy. After college, he served as a fire fighter in the Kern County Fire Department before beginning a 25-year career with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Miller married Janis Shanahan in 1971 and, after a number of cross-country moves with the military, established a permanent residence in Oxford, where Ole Miss students affectionately dubbed him “Captain Max.”

“Through the generous contributions of all those who knew my father, I am confident that we will be able to continue to impact students’ lives in meaningful ways and continue the work of a great man, a proud Rebel: our Captain Max,” Ryan Miller said.

Kilpatrick said there is perhaps no better way to honor a man whose life was dedicated to student development and success.

“Max Miller’s love for his country was matched by his love for his beloved Ole Miss,” Kilpatrick said. “He believed his role within the university family was to do something positive for someone else every day and to do so with tact, compassion and, often, anonymity.

“He gave so that others might have the chance to pursue their life’s goal of receiving an education at one of the finest academic institutions in the country.”

For more information on donating to “The Captain’s Fund,” click here or contact Jason McCormick at 662-915-1757 or

Davises Help Support UM Students and Sports

Meridian couple's love for university inspires major gift

With a $1 million gift to UM, Dr. Don and Lynne Davis have established endowments that support both academic scholarships and Ole Miss athletics. Photo by Bill Dabney

With a $1 million gift to UM, Dr. Don and Lynne Davis have established endowments that support both academic scholarships and Ole Miss athletics. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – Don and Lynne Davis met in anatomy and physiology lab and realized instantly they had great chemistry.

Married 53 years, the Davises, of Meridian, admit they fell in love at first sight. They are grateful to the University of Mississippi for bringing them together and also for making them who they are today: Don, a successful otolaryngologist who recently retired after a 43-year practice, and Lynne, a retired pharmacist.

“We both love Ole Miss,” Don Davis said. “We spend a lot of time in Oxford. I credit Ole Miss with my education, which allowed me to make enough money and make the wise investment choices needed to be able to give back to the university in a significant way.”

With a $1 million gift, the Davises have established two endowments. The Donald S. and Lynne R. Davis Endowment for Athletics will provide support for the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation and the Donald S. and Lynne R. Davis Academic Scholarship Endowment will offer financial assistance to undergraduate students from Meridian.

“During this season of giving, we are deeply grateful to the Davises for their incredible generosity,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the OMAF. “I am personally impressed by their all-encompassing loyalty to the university, as is evident in their giving record, which supports not only athletics but also academics.”

Don Davis, an Iuka native whose professional life was spent in Meridian, said he hopes the scholarship will provide UM tuition support for students from Meridian’s two private schools: Lamar School, the Davis children’s high school alma mater, and Russell Christian Academy. Additionally, he hopes his endowment for athletics will support continual improvements to Ole Miss sports programs.

A member of the Ole Miss Air Force ROTC, Don Davis graduated in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and then entered flight school for three years before returning to Ole Miss to take classes that would prepare him for medical school. At that time, he met Lynne Ruble of West Point, who graduated from Ole Miss in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy.

After Don Davis earned his medical degree in 1966 from the UM School of Medicine in Jackson, he and Lynne moved to Meridian to start a practice and a family. The couple has three grown children – Alicia Davis Johnson of New Orleans, Don Davis Jr. of Oxford and Andy Davis of Meridian, all Ole Miss alumni – and seven grandchildren.

“I told them they could go anywhere they wanted to go, but the money is going to Ole Miss,” Davis said, laughing.

At Ole Miss, Don Davis was active in his fraternity, Sigma Chi, while Lynne Davis was likewise involved with her sorority, Delta Delta Delta.

When they’re not enjoying Ole Miss sports or spending time with their grandchildren, they love to travel, having recently completed a trip around the world. Next up is a trip to the African nation of Rwanda to observe mountain gorillas in the wild, an adventure that has been on Lynne Davis’s bucket list for many years.

To learn more about the Vaught Society and how it supports the Forward Together campaign, contact Keith Carter at or call 662-915-7159. To learn more about scholarship endowments, contact Denson Hollis, senior director of major gifts in the Office of Development, at or 662-915-5092.

Embry Legacy Continues with Latest Scholar

Killough receives 2016 award created in football player's memory

Murrell Godfrey (left), UM director of forensic chemistry, talks Embry scholar Lane Killough through the beginning stages of running a polymerase chain reaction. Forensic chemists use the PCR process to duplicate DNA until the sample size is large enough to analyze. Photo by Bill Dabney

Murrell Godfrey (left), UM director of forensic chemistry, talks Embry scholar Lane Killough through the beginning stages of running a polymerase chain reaction. Forensic chemists use the PCR process to duplicate DNA until the sample size is large enough to analyze. Photo by Bill Dabney

OXFORD, Miss. – It has been 18 years since Bill and Gwen Embry of Coffeeville lost their son Joey in a drowning accident in 1998. Joey, a University of Mississippi student and an offensive tackle for the Rebel football team, was a well-respected leader on and off the field.

The same year Joey Embry died, Lane Killough was born.

Killough, an honor graduate of Bruce High School, is this year’s recipient of the Joey Embry Memorial Scholarship, a fund established by the Embrys to remember their son and give back to a resident of Calhoun or Yalobusha counties.

“We have known, or known a family member of, each student who has received the scholarship,” Gwen Embry said. “Knowing their names makes it much more personal. Joey’s loss is helping people who knew him.”

In high school, Killough served as president of the Beta Club and the Youth Arts Council. He also was involved with the yearbook and newspaper staffs and was active in the drama club. Additionally, he served as head of the school’s library organization.

“Bill and I are very pleased for the Joey Embry Memorial Scholarship to be awarded to such a deserving student going to the University of Mississippi,” Embry said.

Killough said he appreciates the gift and understands the significance behind it.

“I have always wanted to have this college experience,” he said. “Through the assistance of the scholarship, I can more easily accomplish my goals.”

Killough, who chose to attend Ole Miss after visiting the Oxford campus, plans to major in forensic chemistry, one of only five accredited forensic chemistry programs in the nation. He hopes to use his education to help solve federal crimes.

“I immediately fell in love with the campus and the people,” Killough said. “Everything about the environment and community drew me in.”

Students interested in applying for the scholarship should speak with their high school guidance counselor.

Individuals and organizations can contribute to the Joey Embry Memorial Scholarship Fund through the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; phone 800-340-9542; or online at

UM Graduate Gives Back with Planned Gifts

Donations benefit School of Business Administration, support scholarships

Tim Noss (left), development officer for the UM School of Business Administration, awards the late Marion McManus a certificate acknowledging his gift to the university. Photo courtesy Tim Noss

Tim Noss (left), development officer for the UM School of Business Administration, awards the late Marion McManus a certificate acknowledging his gift to the university. Photo courtesy Tim Noss

OXFORD, Miss. – The late Marion McManus of Houston, Texas, grew up on a small farm in Mississippi, one of nine children. His parents’ Meadville home had no electricity or running water and every day he and his siblings were expected to pick cotton after school to help make ends meet. 

“They lived a kind of pioneer lifestyle after the Depression and there wasn’t any money,” said Michael McManus, Marion’s son. “Growing up with that hardship gave him a lot of drive and ambition to make a better life for himself and he realized that having an education was an important part of that.”

Michael McManus says the business degree his father earned from the University of Mississippi in 1950 instilled the knowledge he needed to become successful. In appreciation, he wanted to support education by establishing the Marion McManus Scholarship Endowment with a $300,000 planned gift and the Marion McManus Excellence in Business Endowment with a $200,000 planned gift, both to the UM School of Business Administration.

“Mr. McManus’s story is a great example of the transformative power of higher education,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “He used the education he received at the University of Mississippi to go from humble beginnings to a highly successful businessman. We are grateful for his gifts that honor the impact this university had on his life.”

The McManus Scholarship is available to incoming freshmen in the School of Business Administration who are Mississippi residents with a minimum ACT score of 27. Recipients may retain the scholarship for eight semesters, provided they maintain a 3.0 grade point average.

The McManus Excellence in Business Endowment provides support for the greatest needs of the Business School as determined by the dean.

“Mr. McManus’s generous gifts encompass the scope of work we do here by supporting the general expenses necessary to operate the school and its programs while also meeting the financial needs of students who want to pursue an education in business,” said Ken Cyree, UM business dean.

“We are very grateful for Mr. McManus’ thoughtfulness in including us in his will and for our many loyal donors like him who provide unrestricted support as well as scholarships.”

Tim Noss, development officer for the School of Business Administration, had the privilege of visiting with McManus at his home shortly before his death.

“Mr. McManus enjoyed sharing stories with me about his college experiences and the friendships he made on the Oxford campus,” Noss said. “He had many wonderful memories of his classes and professors in the business school as well as the many extracurricular activities with his fraternity, Delta Psi.”

Michael McManus said his father also made similar gifts to the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Michael’s alma mater, and to Louisiana State University, where Marion attended briefly before returning to Ole Miss.

At LSU, Marion met the late Joan Carol Pender, who would become his wife of 60 years and mother to his children, Michael and Melissa McManus Chapman, both of Houston.

Before college, McManus served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Upon returning, he was admitted to and planned to enroll at Ole Miss.

“There was a story he used to tell: He showed up at Ole Miss and they had thought, since his name was Marion, that he was a female, so they had assigned him to a female residence hall,” Michael said. “I think he basically got miffed and went off and enrolled at LSU.

“My uncle told me the government found out he wasn’t a resident of Louisiana and refused to pay for his school anymore under the GI Bill, so he transferred to Ole Miss to complete his education.”

After graduating, McManus was hired by Fuller-Austin Insulation Co. in Houston, eventually becoming part owner and president in 1967. The company was sold in 1974, but McManus continued to manage the company until 1981 when he started Tecon Services, which became a successful industrial insulation company.

At the age 83, he officially retired and sold his interest in the business to his partners.

McManus enjoyed playing golf, traveling, hunting and spending time with his family and friends.

McManus’ planned gift earned him membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university welcomed its first students. The society recognizes generous donors who thoughtfully provide for the university through planned and deferred gifts.

The McManus endowments are open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655; or visit

Levingston Named to Fant Chair

Donor celebrates lives of family members through endowed chair

Lester 'Ruff' Fant III (left) chats with Bruce Levingston at a reception on the UM campus. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Lester ‘Ruff’ Fant III (left) chats with Bruce Levingston at a reception on the UM campus. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Part of the attraction of a college town is enjoying nationally- and internationally-known speakers and musicians. Acclaimed concert pianist Bruce Levingston, the Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence, brings many eminent guests to the University of Mississippi, such as a recent visit by noted philanthropist and conservationist David Rockefeller Jr.

The educational and cultural opportunities Levingston has added to the Oxford campus have prompted another title to be added to his name: He has been selected as holder of the Lester Glenn Fant Chair endowed by Lester “Ruff” Glenn Fant III of Washington, D.C.

A longtime benefactor, Fant committed a major gift to create the endowed faculty position in memory of his father and grandfather. Ruff Fant’s father was a law professor at Ole Miss for three decades.

“Bruce Levingston is truly a treasure for our university and for our state,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “I cannot think of a more fitting person to serve as the inaugural recipient of the Lester Glenn Fant Chair. Both the Fant family and Bruce play a significant role in helping our university achieve the highest levels of excellence.

“We are extremely appreciative of the ongoing support of the Fant family. And we applaud Bruce’s tremendous talent, teaching excellence, national stature and the extraordinary opportunities he brings to our university community.”

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, has observed the impact of having Levingston on campus.

“Bruce Levingston exudes excellence in his teaching and concert performances,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “He drives our students to compete intellectually with the best in the world. Bruce knows how to instill confidence without backing away from the highest standard. They, in turn, perform beyond their wildest expectations.”

A leading figure in classical music, Levingston expressed gratitude for the expanded faculty title and the support of Fant and his wife, Susan, who also have endowed a faculty chair in English at Ole Miss honoring their friend Hubert H. McAlexander.

Holding an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School, Ruff Fant founded and chairs TowPath Partners, a specialty finance company that invests in mature renewable energy projects.

“I am deeply honored to be the inaugural recipient of the Lester Glenn Fant Chair,” Levingston said. “The family for whom this chair is named, and particularly donor Ruff Fant, represent the highest standards of excellence in every endeavor. I am both humbled and inspired to have been named to this distinguished position at the university.

“As holder of the Fant Chair, I plan to continue to teach, serve and mentor the many gifted students in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College as well as continue to bring leading figures in the arts and humanities to Ole Miss. My goal is to share with students not only what people in other parts of the country are doing and thinking, but also to help them understand how to be a part of that national and international dialogue as they go out into the world.”

The latest visit by Rockefeller – director of Rockefeller & Co., former board chair of the Rockefeller Foundation, leading conservationist of ocean and water resources, and a passionate music supporter – expands the growing list of prominent figures Levingston has hosted at the university, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and international ballet stars Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo.

Levingston joined the university as artist-in-residence in fall 2014. Eleanor Anthony, who was influenced by Levingston while an undergraduate at Ole Miss, is earning a degree from the Stanford University School of Law.

“Bruce’s ability to inspire and challenge students is matched only by his deep dedication to their growth and education,” Anthony said. “By bringing some of the most influential voices of our time to this university, and by sharing his own music and voice with us, Bruce empowers students to realize the impact our own voices may have.

“He represents what teaching is at its best, and the incredible mark he has already left on this university takes shape in the lives and minds of each of his students.”

Levingston holds degrees from the University of Texas and the Aaron Copland School of Music and studied in Sion, Switzerland, at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto and the Aspen School of Music. He enjoys extraordinary experiences and wants Ole Miss students to have the same caliber of opportunities.

“My hope is that whether or not students pursue a career in the arts, they will learn to be thoughtful, innovative and resourceful, so that they may build fulfilling and meaningful lives for themselves and for the communities in which they live and work,” Levingston said.

Many important composers have written works for Levingston, and his Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center world premiere performances have won critical acclaim. The New York Times has praised his “mastery of color and nuance” and The New Yorker has called him “a force for new music.”

Levingston’s recordings have also received high critical praise. His album “Heavy Sleep” was named one of the Best Classical Recordings of 2015 by The New York Times. Levingston’s most recent album, “Dreaming Awake,” featuring the music of Philip Glass and actor Ethan Hawke, was selected as Album of the Week by WQXR/ WNYC, calling the disc a “passionate and spontaneous portrait of the composer” and “a boldly individual approach to the keyboard works of an American master.”

In addition, Levingston is the author of “Bright Fields: The Mastery of Marie Hull,” a comprehensive biography and survey of the work of the prominent Mississippi painter. He collaborates with respected cultural institutions on programs, including American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of Art, Alliance Française/French Institute, The Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival.

The Lester Glenn Fant Chair is open to accept gifts from individuals and organizations. Checks can be made out to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the Fant Chair noted in the memo line, and mailed to 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS, 38655; or by visiting online at