Gift Helps Ensure Success for the Southern Foodways Alliance

Estate of California couple to fund endowment honoring John T. Edge

Roger and Rebecca Emerick want their planned gift to support the Southern Foodways Alliance based at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Spencer Brown

OXFORD, Miss. – Roger and Rebecca Emerick, of Hillsborough, California, have committed a planned gift to extend the mission of the University of Mississippi‘s Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization they applaud for its compelling storytelling and inclusive takes on cultures and people.

The Emericks included the SFA in their estate plans, committing $1 million to the John T. Edge Southern Foodways Alliance Director Endowment after their lifetimes. The endowment is named in honor of the SFA’s founding director.

“John T. is really brave, and I hope the SFA can continue to be that way after he’s no longer there,” said Rebecca Emerick, who learned of Edge and his work after reading the organization’s magazine, Gravy.

“He’s keeping the faith on Southern food, promoting the work of those who are expanding the repertoire – everything from jambalaya to jollof rice – into the future. He’s fighting for those who deserve a place at the table.”

The purpose of the endowment is to ensure succession when Edge retires and set the alliance up for success in its third decade.

“One of the things that’s deeply important for an academic institution is to receive money from people who share your values, who believe in your mission, whom you’re proud to dine at a table with,” Edge said. “The Emericks embody that. They care about the longevity of the SFA. Their gift is transformative.

“This proof that they see value in what we do and in my career at the university means the world to me.”

Rebecca Emerick said, while they both wanted to contribute to the endowment, her husband deserves the credit for the support: “This is really his gift.”

In 1982, Roger Emerick became CEO and board chair of Lam Research Corp., which manufactures and sells semiconductor processing equipment used to fabricate integrated circuits. As of 2018, it was the second-largest manufacturer in the San Francisco Bay area, trailing only Tesla. He retired in 1997.

The company was failing when it hired Roger Emerick, his wife recalled.

“So, he raised money and kept the payroll going,” she said. “Within two years, he took Lam public.”

According to the Chip History Hall of Fame, “Roger Emerick is unique in his ability to build a company that is a joy for its customers and a joy for its employees. The value of this strategy is that it has made LRC a consistent leader.”

Rebecca Emerick is a member of the American Society of Interior Design. She and her best friend established their own design studio and practiced together until 1984. Her pursuits also have included riding show horses – she is a world champion equestrian – and volunteering for local charities.

She also created an auxiliary that built and equipped a veterinary surgical unit in a no-kill animal shelter and has received congressional recognition for service to her California community.

“The first time I ever saw Gravy magazine, I was knocked out by the accuracy of the writing, and here’s what I really like about it: I like the way it’s not formulaic, professional Southern cornpone-for-the-soul stuff,” she said. “It’s the real story of what really happened. You’re telling it like it was.”

A fifth-generation native of southern Arkansas, Rebecca Emerick is a recipient of the Arkansas Traveler award, an honorary title given to individuals who, through their actions, serve as goodwill ambassadors for the state. The honor was awarded after she and her husband underwrote construction of a Victorian bandstand in her hometown.

Other recipients include such notable individuals as Muhammad Ali and Maya Angelou.

“It’s a quirky little award, but it’s their highest civilian honor,” she said. “I’m really proud of that.”

Although she and her husband have supported the SFA as members of its Order of the Okra for many years, neither are Ole Miss alumni.

“Some of our most ardent supporters are not graduates of this university,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “We call those donors ‘friends,’ and that’s certainly the case with Roger and Rebecca.

“We are most grateful for their vision in designating this generous gift in support of the Southern Foodways Alliance.”

The John T. Edge SFA Director Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. Checks, with the endowment noted in the memo line, can be mailed to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. Gifts also can be made online at

For more information, contact Nikki Neely Davis, executive director of development, at 662-915-6678 or

For information on including the university in estate plans, contact Daniel K. Wiseman, senior director of gift planning, at 662-915-5944 or