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Donor Support

Ward Family Supports Son with Gift to Ole Miss Athletics

By | Donor Support

Brian Ward knows what college athletes want. “Having been a player in the Southeastern Conference, I know you want the top facilities, the top support system and everything first-class, down to the workout clothes you wear,” said Ward of Mobile, Alabama. “Those things get the best recruits and they require donations to compete within the conference.”

Despite his history as an offensive lineman for Louisiana State University, Ward and his wife, Jennifer, hope their gift to the Vaught Society will help University of Mississippi football players enjoy successful collegiate careers. Vaught Society funds are critical in elevating Ole Miss Athletics to nationally competitive levels by providing the resources for world-class facilities, coaches and scholarship support. “Our son, Brady, signed to play football for the Rebels and we felt this gift was a good way to support him and the program,” said Ward, founder and CEO of DocRx — a licensed manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor of health care products and services for hospitals, pharmacies and physicians. “We have always supported our kids, what they wanted to do and the programs they were involved in,” said Jennifer Ward, who serves as DocRx president. The Wards’ daughter, Caroline, manages a women’s boutique, The Mix, in Mobile.

Jordie Kindervater, director of development/major gifts, expressed gratitude for the Wards’ gift on behalf of Ole Miss. “Brian and Jennifer understand the philanthropic commitment it takes to position a college athletics program for sustained excellence at the highest level. Their investment will go a long way toward accelerating this process at Ole Miss,” Kindervater said. “We are proud to welcome them to campus as active, game-changing members of our Vaught Society.”

Brian Ward’s father played football for Livingston University, Jennifer Ward’s great-grandfather played for the first Mississippi State University football team, her brother was the backup quarterback at the University of Southern Mississippi behind Brett Favre, and Caroline recruited football players for the University of South Alabama. Brian Ward was a Tiger, and now his son is a Rebel. “It will take a little getting used to,” Ward said, acknowledging the irony that he and his teammates fought to beat Ole Miss on the gridiron. “We loved our time in Baton Rouge, but his choice is Ole Miss – and we are happy and proud of him. “We have a ton of passion for Saturdays. We look forward to weekends in the Grove and being in the stands at the Vaught. Those are not luxuries you get as a player. Usually you fly in on Friday and out after the game. You don’t get to experience the towns in the conference.”

The Wards also want to see the Rebels become a powerhouse team for their son’s sake, and they understand that private gifts can help make that happen. “What I saw in Oxford was no different than what I saw when we visited Clemson and other Top-5 schools. A lot of fans want to win at that level but you have to give donations to match the facilities of teams that recruit and compete at that level,” Ward said. “There is no doubt the city of Oxford, the campus of Ole Miss and the current staff can compete on a Top-5 level. History has shown it can happen.

In 2010, Ward was recognized as one of Mobile’s “Top 40 under 40” executives for his professional excellence, community service and leadership. In addition to serving on the board of directors of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, he also is a member of the Senior Bowl in Mobile and the Mobile Alabama Touchdown Club, and has served on numerous area youth football and baseball boards. Prior to founding Doc Rx in 2008, Ward worked in pharmaceuticals for companies like AstraZeneca and Innovex as regional manager of their hospital divisions. For the past 21 years, he has been instrumental in conceptualizing and developing more than seven health care companies. “Jenn and I have dedicated our lives to helping patients through our health care companies and trying to do a service for the medical community,” Ward said. “We own a lab so most of our 2020 year has been testing for Covid-19 and supporting hospitals and clinics throughout Mississippi and Alabama. It has been a busy year for us.”

Though the two met at LSU, Ward says, “We were extremely impressed with Oxford, the campus and the people. And we are excited to be a part of the Ole Miss family.”

For more information on supporting Ole Miss Athletics, visit http://givetoathletics.com or contact Fowler Staines, CEO and chief financial officer of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, at 662-915-1143 or fowler@olemiss.edu.

Payne’s Gift Will Name Pavilion’s Hill Drive Entrance

By | Donor Support, Forward Together

Abb Payne’s University of Mississippi roots go way back. In fact, his grandfather played football for Ole Miss in the late ’20s, worked with the campus grounds crew to pay tuition and even planted many of the trees in the historic Grove. Now, just as those mighty oaks have grown from saplings to stanchions of strength, Payne of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, hopes his gift to Ole Miss Athletics will help its programs grow into national powerhouses. “We also hope it solidifies our appreciation to the Ole Miss family as a whole. Several generations of Paynes have attended Ole Miss, and we all reconnect around our love of the university and the great memories we have,” said Payne, a member of the UM Foundation and Ole Miss Alumni boards. “Athletics plays such a crucial role in the love you have for a school and provides a great reason to stay engaged over decades. Ole Miss Athletics does that for our family.”

For his generosity, the Payne name will adorn the Hill Drive entrance of the Pavilion at Ole Miss, UM’s premier basketball arena. But to Payne, the honor goes beyond sports. “Of course, the Pavilion is state of the art and should be a wonderful facility for the university for decades in sports as well as for so many other events, like commencements or concerts, so it was a great fit for us because we’re Ole Miss fans in all respects,” he said.

A 1998 graduate of the School of Business Administration, Payne is president and CEO of The Payne Companies, employing thousands nationwide in various entities including home health, private duty, infusion pharmacies, assisted living facilities, hotels, apartments and industrial corporate real estate. From 2003-2018, he was president and CEO of Camellia Home Health and Hospice of Hattiesburg for which he was instrumental in expanding the company through a number of mergers and acquisitions and ultimately overseeing its sale to Encompass Health — the nation’s fourth largest healthcare company. Additionally he is the founder of InfusionPlus, a company that administers highly complex intravenous therapies across Mississippi and was ranked by Inc. Magazine as the ninth fastest growing healthcare company in the nation.

Payne and Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Keith Carter are contemporaries, having attended Ole Miss together. While Payne said he appreciates Carter’s “great momentum,” Carter expressed gratitude for Payne’s support. “For generations, the Paynes have been prominent on this campus. I’m proud to see that the Payne name now has a permanent home here,” Carter said. “We greatly appreciate Abb’s longtime support of our programs and we look forward to the achievements his gift will help us win.”

Payne holds master’s and juris doctorate degrees from Florida State University and is an attorney, real estate developer, property manager, and forester.

“As an established and highly respected leader, Abb understands what it takes to build sustained success at the highest level,” said Jordie Kindervater, director of development/major gifts. “His investment will play a pivotal role in shaping and enhancing our competitive excellence across the board for Ole Miss student-athletes.”

In his spare time, Payne enjoys spending time with his wife, Jennifer, and children Ford, 9, Arden, 6, and Duke, 2.

Five years ago, he and his dad began a mission to see a game in every SEC football stadium. “Ole Miss has really been our conduit to accomplish most of that, and it’s been a great way for us to share that together,” Payne said. “We’ve got one stadium to go.”

For more information on supporting Ole Miss Athletics, visit www.givetoathletics.com or contact Fowler Staines, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, at 662-915-1143 or fowler@olemiss.edu.

Lee Family’s gift will benefit Ole Miss student athletes

By | Donor Support, Forward Together

Dr. Spencer Lee and his extended family have come and gone from the University of Mississippi over four generations, but the Lee name will soon be a permanent fixture on the Oxford campus. Lee, a retired dentist from Pickwick Lake, Tennessee, and his wife, Rebecca, recently made a $250,000 gift to the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics, which bolsters facilities and programs for student-athletes. In recognition, the Lee name will be added to the Gate 9 entrance of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

“All our parents were graduates of Ole Miss; thus we have always been Rebel fans and have enjoyed many fall days in the Grove with family and friends before and after ballgames,” said Lee, who attended UM’s pre-dental program until 1965; he completed his degree in 1969 at the University of Tennessee. “We’ve also had four children graduate from Ole Miss along with several of their spouses,” he continued, adding their grandson — also named Spencer Lee — is a senior in the UM School of Engineering. “Needless to say, we all enjoy Ole Miss athletics and our gift represents our support for Rebel sports.”

Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Keith Carter expressed gratitude to the Lee family whose name is as much a part of the University of Mississippi as the gate on which it will reside. “Gifts like these are inspiring to others who may be considering whether the timing is right to give back to Ole Miss. Other potential donors will see Dr. Lee leading the way toward increased support and hopefully feel that they want to contribute too,” Carter said. “We are extremely grateful for the Lees’ support and their desire to see our student-athletes succeed in their particular sports, in the classroom and in life beyond college.”

Lee retired in 2015 after 46 years of practicing dentistry in Corinth, Mississippi. During his career, he was active in leading many professional organizations, including the American Dental Association, serving in 1999 as president of the Mississippi Dental Association and the University of Tennessee Dental Alumni Association and Board of Trustees. He is a past president of the First District Dental Society and Corinth Dental Society. He was secretary of the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners and active in the American Association of Dental Examiners and Southeast Regional Association of Dental Deans and Examiners. A member of the Pierre Fauchard Academy and Fellow of the American College of Dentistry, Lee attended every state meeting of the Mississippi Dental Association from 1969 to 2005 as well as numerous other association meetings, conventions and continuing education programs. He also has written several articles for the Mississippi Dental Association Journal.

Rebecca Ramer Lee earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in library science from Ole Miss in 1972 and 1975 respectively. She retired after 40 years as a librarian and teacher with the Corinth School System.

When they’re not watching Rebels play, the Lees enjoy traveling and spending time on their boat at Pickwick Lake.

The Lees’ gift is part of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s drive to honor donors with naming opportunities for each entrance gate at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. “The gate naming initiative will play an integral role in completing the $200 million Forward Together campaign,” said Fowler Staines, chief executive officer of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “With $185 million raised toward a multitude of capital projects, the final phase of the campaign saw the opening of the William F. Galtney Indoor Tennis Center and completed renovations to the Tosh Family Short Course and Oxford-University Stadium.”

Naming opportunities remain available in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the grand gates at the north, east and west entrances as well as a limited number of individual gates.

For more information about the Forward Together campaign or the gate naming initiative, visit http://givetoathletics.com or contact Fowler Staines, chief executive officer of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, at 662-915-1143 or fowler@olemiss.edu.

Moores’ Gift Renews Commitment to Ole Miss Athletics

By | Donor Support

Guy and Lucy Moore of Pascagoula, Mississippi, believe their financial commitment to Ole Miss Athletics will help the Rebels compete in the Southeastern Conference and ultimately at the national level. The Moores, who are members of the Vaught Society — an honorary designation for those who make annual gifts to Athletics of at least $5,000 or more — renewed their commitment to the Forward Together campaign in support of Ole Miss Athletics with a $125,000 gift. “It’s important for our teams to be competitive and to do so, especially in the SEC, requires commitment, including financial support, to provide the necessary infrastructure and facilities to go along with the dedication and talent of the student athletes, coaches and staff,” said Guy Moore, a 1972 University of Mississippi accountancy graduate. “Gifts to the Forward Together campaign through membership in the Vaught Society are one way to show that commitment and support, and we are pleased to continue our involvement.”

The $200 million Forward Together campaign is the largest and most ambitious fundraising initiative in Ole Miss Athletics history. Today’s total of $186 million is the result of philanthropic giving and donations related to priority seating. Over 400 commitments from Vaught Society members are directed toward the Forward Together campaign. “The university has a rich history of exciting and successful athletic programs,” said Moore, a member of the UM Foundation board of directors. “We believe that athletics programs are an integral part of the experience of students, alumni and friends, and are important in binding us together in our connection with Ole Miss.”

Thanks to financial commitments made by Vaught Society members like the Moores, multiple projects have either been completed or are underway, including the Pavilion at Ole Miss, Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium , Gillom Athletics Performance Center, Ole Miss Track and Field Complex, football practice fields, Ole Miss Golf Course, William F. Galtney Indoor Tennis Center and the Baseball Performance Center. “Ole Miss has amazing venues for its sports teams, and they are never more amazing and wonderful than when they are filled with fans wearing red and blue,” Lucy Moore said.

Athletics Director Keith Carter shared his gratitude for the Moores’ gift. “Ongoing commitments from loyal Rebel fans like Guy and Lucy are really the fuel that sustains both our programs and propels our student-athletes toward excellence in their sports and in the classroom,” Carter said.

The Moores also have a history of support for academics at the university. Most recently, the couple established an endowment that provides tuition support for students transferring from community college into the Patterson School of Accountancy. Additionally, the Moores have included the university in their estate plans, naming UM a beneficiary of two trusts that will support all of their existing endowments. “In appreciation of how I was able to attend a community college and transfer to Ole Miss, which made it financially viable for me to attend and graduate from the university, we want to help students in similar circumstances,” Moore said. “We hope that the endowed scholarship will contribute to those students graduating from the Patterson School of Accountancy and going on to successful careers in whatever form they may choose.”

Moore retired from Deloitte LLP and Deloitte & Touche LLP in 2012 after 40 years, including 30 as an active partner. He worked in numerous Deloitte locations, including New Orleans, Louisiana; Atlanta, Georgia; Boca Raton, Florida; and the company’s national headquarters in Connecticut. “We are deeply grateful to Guy and Lucy Moore for their longtime interest in and support of the Patterson School,” said Dean Mark Wilder. “Guy has enjoyed an exceptional career and we are proud to have him as an alumnus and also as a member of the Patterson School Hall of Fame. Many students transferring from community colleges face financial challenges. The Moores’ gift will be especially beneficial to these students and will enable them to receive an accountancy education that will serve them well throughout their lives. Guy and Lucy are wonderful friends of the Ole Miss Accountancy School and we appreciate them very much.”

Guy Moore was named to the Patterson School of Accountancy Hall of Fame in 2013. While at Ole Miss, he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa honor society and the Beta Alpha Psi accountancy fraternity.

For more information about the Forward Together campaign, visit http://givetoathletics.com or contact Matt Mossberg, chief development officer of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, at mossberg@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7167.

To make a gift to the Patterson School of Accountancy, visit https://give.olemiss.edu or contact Jason McCormick, director of development, at jason@olemiss.edu or 662-915-1757.

Ririe Family’s Gift to Benefit Forward Together Campaign

By | Donor Support

A St. Louis, Missouri, couple’s gift to Ole Miss Athletics will benefit student-athletes while also honoring their sons, who are University of Mississippi alumni. Scott and Shelley Ririe made a $250,000 gift to the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics, which bolsters facilities and programs for student-athletes. In recognition, Gate 7 entrance of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will be named the Ririe Family Gate. “We love athletics and we especially love college football,” Scott Ririe said. “After our first son enrolled at Ole Miss in 2007, we fell in love with the Grove and all of the traditions. We donated to the athletics program to help perpetuate those positive traditions at Ole Miss.”

The Riries said they also hope their gift will enable the university to continue developing the brightest and best student-athletes possible. “You have to have first-rate equipment and facilities to attract high-level talent in a very competitive Division 1 atmosphere,” said Scott Ririe, who was introduced to Ole Miss in 2005 when he visited the Oxford campus with his son, Mike – then a junior in high school. The two enjoyed a campus tour, a Rebel football game and festivities in the university’s historic Grove. “We never visited another school after that day,” said Ririe, founder and co-president of Control Technology and Solutions (CTS), an energy service company based in St. Louis.

Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Keith Carter expressed gratitude to the Ririe family. “We love families like the Riries, whose love for Ole Miss Athletics grew from their sons’ passion for and loyalty to their alma mater,” Carter said. “We are so grateful to Scott and Shelley, especially during these uncertain times, and hope their gift will inspire others to similarly support our students and programs.”

Mike Ririe graduated from Ole Miss in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is a commercial real estate agent in Chicago, Illinois. His brother, James, is a 2020 graduate of the School of Business Administration. Inspired by the Ririe brothers’ love for their alma mater, Scott and Shelley made a $300,000 gift in 2018 to establish the Ririe Family Scholarship Endowment, which awards $6,000 a year for up to eight semesters to two St. Louis freshmen in the School of Business Administration.

Scott Ririe graduated from Cornell College in 1979 and Shelley is a 1981 graduate of the University of Iowa. Yet they now proudly support Ole Miss. “Our family has become attached to Ole Miss through our boys and their love and loyalty to the university,” Shelley Ririe said. The couple also has two other children: Andy, a paramedic studying to become a physician’s assistant, and Elise, who graduated from the University of Dayton (Ohio) and is a pharmaceutical sales representative living in Cleveland, Ohio.

Scott Ririe began his career working in sales for Honeywell International Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa. He became service sales manager in 1984 and moved to St. Louis, where he was soon promoted again to district general manager. In 2000, he and a business partner founded CTS, which has grown to become the CTS Group, operating in nine states with over 124 employees and revenue of more than $100 million a year. He serves on the executive committee as treasurer for National Association of Energy Services Companies Board of Directors and the board of Midwest Easter Seals Association. He also has served on the advisory boards for General Motors and, along with his wife, Ranger Bass Boats. His high school sweetheart and wife of 36 years, Shelley Ririe began her career with Revlon Inc., marketing cosmetics to retailers. She then joined Ormco, an orthodontic supplier. Today, she owns Branson West Marine and Powersports.

The Riries’ most recent gift is part of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s drive to honor donors with naming opportunities for each entrance gate at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. “The gate naming initiative will play an integral role in completing the $200 million Forward Together campaign,” said Fowler Staines, chief executive officer of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “With $186 million raised toward a multitude of capital projects, the final phase of the campaign saw the opening of the William F. Galtney Indoor Tennis Center and completed renovations to the Tosh Family Short Course and Oxford-University Stadium.”

Naming opportunities remain available in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the grand gates at the north, east and west entrances as well as a limited number of individual gates. For more information about the Forward Together campaign or the gate naming initiative, visit http://givetoathletics.com or contact Matt Mossberg, chief development officer of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, at 662-915-7167 or mossberg@olemiss.edu.

RJ Young President Supports Ole Miss Athletics with Major Gift

By | Donor Support

By Bill Dabney

Chip Crunk is no stranger to the University of Mississippi campus.

“I’m up here at least once a month trying to give back, trying to do the right things and help young people better themselves,” said Crunk, president and CEO of the RJ Young Company of Nashville, Tennessee.

The 1987 UM graduate and his wife, Gina, recently made a $500,000 gift to Ole Miss Athletics, the latest of many gifts to his alma mater.

“That’s the reason you work hard — so you have the ability to give back to help young people have better opportunities to attend college and be proud of what the university has to offer,” Crunk said. “I want to see young people have the opportunity to better themselves.”

Crunk is also no stranger to hard work. He started his career with RJ Young at age 14, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping, mopping and taking out the trash.

After graduating from Ole Miss, Crunk returned to the company as a sales representative. He became director of sales in 1989, then executive vice president and chief operating officer. In 1995, he took the reins and led RJ Young to see double-digit annual growth.

Providing technology services and office solutions for small- to enterprise-level businesses across every industry, the multimillion-dollar company now ranks as the largest, privately held dealer in the Southeast and one of the largest in the nation. Crunk oversees an operation that covers eight states and employs more than 650 people in 30 locations.

“We are so grateful to Chip and Gina for their commitment to the University of Mississippi and specifically to Ole Miss Athletics,” said Keith Carter, vice chancellor of intercollegiate athletics. “This type of leadership gift shows the Crunks’ commitment to helping us make a difference in the lives of our student-athletes.

“Gifts like these are inspiring to others who may be considering whether the timing is right to give back to Ole Miss,” Carter continued. “Other potential donors will see Chip and Gina leading the way toward increased support and hopefully feel that they want to contribute too.”

In addition to his interest in opportunities for student-athletes, Crunk said he is equally determined to see the School of Business Administration grow in national stature. A longtime member of the Business School’s Advisory Board, he now serves as president.

Crunk is also a member and past president of the Copier Dealers Association, along with serving on both the Canon USA and Ricoh Corporation copier dealer counsels. He is active in church, community and civic organizations and enjoys flying, boating, golfing and cheering for the Rebels and Tennessee Titans.

The Crunks live in Brentwood, Tennessee, and have two children, Trey, a first year student at Ole Miss and Caroline, an Ole Miss alumna.

To support Ole Miss Athletics with a gift to the Forward Together campaign, contact Matt Mossberg at mossberg@olemiss.edu, call 662-915-7159 or visit www.givetoathletics.com/forward-together/.

Knight Gift Names Gate 38

By | Donor Support

By Bill Dabney

Their recent $250,000 gift to the University of Mississippi gives Amy and Alex Knight of Germantown, Tennessee, a lasting family tribute while honoring a beloved fallen Rebel.

The Knights’ name adorns Gate 38 of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, representing in perpetuity the family’s desire to help improve athletics facilities and help recruit student-athletes to campus.

“We believe that modernized facilities help land top recruits that lead to winning seasons, so it seemed logical to focus our support in that direction,” said Alex Knight, executive vice president of analytics and an owner of Citizens Rx, a national full-service pharmacy benefit-management provider for public and private companies.

“In selecting Gate 38, we wanted to honor Chucky Mullins’ spirit and courage,” said Amy Knight, who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the UM Patterson School of Accountancy in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

The late Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins, a Rebel defensive back from Russellville, Alabama, died on May 6, 1991 — 19 months after the Ole Miss homecoming game in which he sustained a devastating football injury that left him a quadriplegic. After the injury, Mullins became the central figure in an outpouring of support that spread nationwide. On Sept. 3, 2006, his jersey number (38) was retired in a pregame ceremony.

The Knights’ gift is part of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s drive to honor donors with naming opportunities for each entrance gate at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

“We are so grateful to Alex and Amy for participating in our gate naming initiative, which is the first of its kind and will play an integral role in completing the $200 million Forward Together campaign,” said Keith Carter, interim athletics director. “This type of leadership gift shows the Knight’s commitment to helping us make a difference in the lives of our student-athletes.”

Of the $180.9 million raised toward a multitude of capital projects, gifts have most recently supported the William F. Galtney Indoor Tennis Center and renovations to Oxford-University Stadium.

Naming opportunities remain available for the grand gates at the north, east and west entrances as well as a limited number of individual gates.

Prior to his current position with Citizens Rx, Alex Knight held various operational and business development roles in retail, mail order, specialty, internet and hospital pharmacy as well as pharmaceutical repackaging and physician dispensing.

In 2011, he was named to the Memphis Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” for his professional contributions, accomplishments and community service. In 2013, he was named “Big of the Year” for the State of Tennessee by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Memphis for his service mentoring his “Little,” Marquette, for more than 12 years.

A CPA by trade, Amy Knight held various accounting and financial leadership positions for both privately and publically held companies. Her career focused on directing global corporate compliance and financial process improvement efforts. She developed a high level of proficiency in all aspects of financial controls and compliance-related initiatives, specializing in re-engineering countless revenue and accounting-related processes.

In 2016, after a successful 15-year career, she chose a new challenge, leaving behind her position at a Fortune 50 logistics company to focus on raising the couple’s son, Jack, now 4. This role includes participating in various functions at his school, St. George’s Independent School. She also volunteers with various philanthropic organizations, including the Memphis Zoo, Orpheum Theatre, Children’s Museum of Memphis and Junior Auxiliary of Collierville, Tennessee.

The Knights, who met at Ole Miss, want their support to inspire similar giving.

“We hope other young alumni, family, friends and fans of Ole Miss, especially those in the Memphis, Tennessee-area will consider enhancing their philanthropic giving to Ole Miss Athletics,” Alex Knight said.

His wife agreed: “It’s never too early to focus on giving opportunities for which you feel passionate about and have a personal connection.”

For more information about the Gate Naming Initiative, contact the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7782 or visit www.givetoathletics.com/gates.

Hankins Gift Supports Ole Miss Athletics and Gate Naming Initiative

By | Donor Support
By Bill Dabney

The Hankins name is stamped on every piece of lumber that leaves the family’s Ripley, Mississippi, mill.

“It’s because we want people down the line to know who made it, and it represents that our family believes in the quality of the product we produce,” said David Hankins, a registered forester and the eldest of three brothers whose company manufactures, dries and planes Southern Yellow Pine lumber sold nationwide.

Soon, the Hankins name will appear on Gate 15 of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at the University of Mississippi and will represent the family’s support for Ole Miss Athletics.

David and Rita Hankins, J.D. and Beverly Hankins, and Harold Wayne and Patsy Hankins recently made a $250,000 gift to the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics, which bolsters facilities and programs for student-athletes. In a meeting on the Oxford campus, Interim Athletics Director Keith Carter expressed gratitude to the Hankins family. “Gifts like these are inspiring to others who may be considering whether the timing is right to give back to Ole Miss. Other potential donors will see the Hankins family leading the way toward increased support and hopefully feel that they want to contribute too,” Carter said.
“The Hankins family story is remarkable because of the longevity of support they’ve given Ole Miss as faithful donors for more than 25 consecutive years.”

In fact, the brothers are third-generation Rebel fans; their grandfather’s enthusiasm for Ole Miss continues to spread to his descendants. They and their wives rarely miss a game in the trifecta of most-popular sports — football, basketball and baseball. They sit together in the stands; they laugh and cheer together; and they’re best friends.

J.D. Hankins, a 1976 UM graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting with an emphasis in marketing, credits that relationship and the family’s faith — both nurtured by their mother — for the financial success that enables them to give back.
“It wasn’t a gravy train; it was a battle all the way,” he said, referring to the company’s start-up challenges and the housing market crash of 2008. “We’ve really been blessed through it all. God really took care of us. Especially looking back, you can see His footsteps here, there and everywhere, and we’ve just wondered why He was taking such good care of us.”

Now with 100 onsite employees, 700-plus indirect supporting workers and state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution equipment, Hankins Inc. is in the top-tier of U.S. mills using the latest technology. The brothers grew up in Grenada, Mississippi, working in a lumber business owned by their father and uncle. After their father’s death, his ownership passed to them. In 1988, they decided to sell their interest and start a new company in Ripley by purchasing an existing sawmill. In 1993, the company embarked on a seven-year plan to modernize the entire production line. Now, the mill has a production capacity nine times that of its first year. “We’ve gone from 12-million board feet annually during the first year to 110-million board feet in 2018 and a total exceeding 2 billion board feet over the past 30 years,” said Harold Wayne Hankins, a 1980 Ole Miss graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. “Our special ability in the industry for product mixture is what set us apart competitively.”

“Throughout our business, we stress the core values of quality, integrity and safety, and we strive to provide a superior product, without any compromises to our beliefs or to the safety of our employees.”

The brothers are now semi-retired, but the business remains in the family: J.D.’s son Trey Hankins, a 2003 graduate, is chief financial officer and David’s son Blake Hankins, a 2007 graduate, is chief procurement officer. The Hankins’ gift is part of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s drive to honor donors with naming opportunities for each entrance gate at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. “The Gate Naming Initiative is the first of its kind and will play an integral role in completing the $200 million Forward Together campaign,” Carter explained. “With $180.9 million raised toward a multitude of capital projects, the final phase of the campaign saw the opening of the William F. Galtney Indoor Tennis Center and completed renovations to Oxford-University Stadium.”

Naming opportunities remain available for the grand gates at the north, east and west entrances as well as a limited number of individual gates. In 2017, the stadium’s south entrance was named for Diane and J.L. Holloway of Ridgeland, Mississippi; Gate 4 was named for Jane and Doug Simmons of Hollandale, Mississippi; Gate 2 was named the Braddock-Beagle Gate in memory of Larry “Big L” Braddock of Laurel, Mississippi; and Gate 14 will serve as a lasting tribute to alumnus Roger Friou and his wife, Susie, of Ridgeland.

For more information about the Gate Naming Initiative, contact the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7782 or visit https://givetoathletics.com/gates.

Andy Prefontaine Pays it Forward with Planned Gift

By | Donor Support
By Bill Dabney

Andy Prefontaine built bridges in the summertime to pay his way through college.

“At that time, the interstate was being built in Connecticut, and my oldest brother was a foreman,” recalls Prefontaine of Indianapolis, Indiana. “I worked as a rod buster, reinforcing concrete with steel. It was a great paying job but it was very, very difficult.” In addition to that summer job, Prefontaine took out a student loan, which his sister paid off as a gift. He knows there’s value in hard work but admits a scholarship would have helped offset expenses, allowing him to more readily focus on school.

Now, as CEO of Family Leisure — a multistate retailer of swimming pools, outdoor furnishings and recreation equipment — Prefontaine wants to pay his blessings forward by including the University of Mississippi in his estate plans. His unrestricted gift, with an estimated value of $423,000, establishes the Andy and Deborah Prefontaine Scholarship Endowment. “I know financial assistance is important these days with rising tuition costs,” said Prefontaine, who recently made a similar gift to his alma mater, Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. “Students need scholarship money. Sometimes just a few thousand dollars is the deciding factor on whether a student can attend college or not.

“I came from a very humble background: first-generation American parents who were textile workers,” he continued. “I grew up with very little. So I know life can be trying, challenging. I know what that’s like. I’ve just been very fortunate and God blessed my work, so I feel like I have an obligation to pay it forward.”

Interim UM Chancellor Larry Sparks said he appreciates the Prefontaines’ interest in the longevity of Ole Miss. “It’s encouraging to see alumni and friends of the university who understand the importance of higher education and have a desire to help our students achieve their goals,” Sparks said. “We are extremely grateful to Andy and Debbie for their generosity and forethought in making a gift that will help students for generations to come.”

An avid follower of collegiate sports, Prefontaine became a Rebel fan when his son, Kevin, attended Ole Miss in the mid-1990s; he graduated in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. “I just fell in love with the SEC and Ole Miss in particular, its hospitality and everything that goes on. Over the years, people assumed I went to Ole Miss and I got tired of telling them I didn’t, so I enrolled,” said Prefontaine, who took a Russian history class. “I’m a history buff, but I had that piece as an open blank that I needed to fill in. And I loved it; it was great. Now I can truthfully say I went to Ole Miss!”

As a student at Morehead State, he was a member of the ROTC program’s first commissioned graduating class and served as the last president of the Aquila Club before the social organization became the national fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha. After graduating, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served six years as a reserve engineer officer. Along the way, he met Debbie at a country music venue in Cincinnati, Ohio, her hometown and the city that launched his retail career. The couple has three children and eight grandchildren.

Prefontaine’s estate gift awards him membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university opened the Lyceum doors to its first students. The society recognizes generous alumni and friends who thoughtfully provide for the university through planned and deferred gifts. “I hope the gift enhances many students’ lives and that it will make a difference,” Prefontaine said. “Perhaps these students can pay it forward, realizing it was the break they needed to be able to go to school.”

For information on including Ole Miss in your estate, contact Byron Liles, senior director of gift planning, at 662-915-7601 or byron@olemiss.edu.

For information on giving to the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, contact Keith Carter, Deputy A.D. for Development and Resource Acquisition, at 662-915-1929 or jkcarter@olemiss.edu.

Frious’ Gift Supports the Forward Together Campaign

By | Donor Support
By Bill Dabney and Tina H. Hahn

New signage at Gate 14 of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will serve as a lasting tribute to University of Mississippi alumnus Roger Friou and his wife, Susie, who recently made a major gift in support of Ole Miss Athletics. “When Billy Brewer was coach here, I was a real insider. I really was. So that brought me close to the Athletic Department and, ever since, I’ve been a very active supporter of the athletic programs. So I just decided one day that it was time to make a gift to the Athletic Department,” said Roger Friou, who graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accountancy in 1956 and 1959 respectively.

“The Lord has been good to me, the stock market has been very good to me and I’ve been good to Ole Miss.”

The Ridgeland, Mississippi, couple’s $250,000 gift is part of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s drive to honor donors with naming opportunities for each of the entrance gates at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the Pavilion at Ole Miss, the Rebels’ basketball arena.

“The Gate Naming Initiative is the first of its kind and will play an integral role in completing the $200 million Forward Together campaign,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “With $178.4M million raised toward a multitude of capital projects, the final phase of the campaign saw the opening of the William F. Galtney Indoor Tennis Center and completed renovations to Oxford-University Stadium.”

Friou hopes his gift will help improve the Rebels’ competitive edge. “The NCAA issue really impacted our program, but we’re gradually coming back,” Friou said. “We must have resources for scholarships. So that’s the purpose of my gift: to help the program continue to award scholarships and improve what we’re doing.”

Matt Mossberg, a development officer with the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, said he hopes the Frious’ gift will inspire similar support for the campaign. “Now, more than ever, it’s critical for Rebel fans to give back,” Mossberg said. “We greatly appreciate Roger and Susie for stepping forward in support of Ole Miss. Their generosity will help to significantly improve our facilities, giving our student-athletes the competitive edge they deserve.”

Friou might have attended a different university, except his mother, Annie Belle H. Friou of Tupelo, Mississippi, sought the advice of a family friend on the best accountancy program available for her only child. In turn, Friou assures many young people also enjoy the benefits of his alma mater’s accountancy program through scholarships and other support, as well as utilizing his accountancy background through alumni service to strengthen the overall university.

“Roger is a clear thinking, no-nonsense, passionate advocate for Ole Miss,” said Don Fruge, professor emeritus of law and chair of the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation Board of Governors. “He has an unswerving dedication to Ole Miss Athletics, the Patterson School of Accountancy and to the University of Mississippi Foundation, having served as chair of the UMF board and a long-time member of the Joint Committee on Investments. Roger provided steady leadership during a period of significant growth for the university and its endowment fund. I am proud to call him my friend and thank him for his wonderful service to our university.”

Friou also served the UMF Investment Committee as chairman of its audit committee, the Accountancy Advisory Board and the Ole Miss Alumni Association. “My mother was absolutely correct in guiding me to Ole Miss,” Friou said. “When she passed away in 1984, the first scholarship I established was in her memory. I have always maintained a great interest in income taxes, and the scholarship bearing her name assists outstanding fifth-year students focusing on taxes and preparing for a career in public accounting.”

Friou and his wife became interested in establishing a second scholarship in 1998, when James W. “Jimmy” Davis was the accountancy dean and began efforts to substantially increase the number of accountancy scholarships. With a $250,000 gift, the couple set up the Roger and Susie Friou Scholarship Fund. “At that time there were no scholarships for freshmen who had already selected accountancy as their major. I decided that having such a program would definitely help to attract quality students to the accountancy program. This has been very rewarding for Susie and me, presenting eight to ten scholarships annually. Meeting each year’s scholarship group has been a great pleasure,” said Friou, who is a member of the Patterson School of Accountancy Alumni Hall of Fame and also a donor to a scholarship fund named for Davis and faculty endowments at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Friou has witnessed his investments making a mark. The undergraduate (No. 7), master’s (No. 9), and doctoral (No. 7) degree programs in the Patterson School of Accountancy are all now ranked within the nation’s Top 10, with the undergrad and doctoral programs placing Ole Miss as the No. 1 Southeastern Conference school in the national rankings. “It’s spectacular to know the Patterson School has come so far,” said the alumnus. “We have generous alumni support and outstanding professors. I’ve wanted to be involved as an alumnus because attending Ole Miss was such a life-changing experience for me. My dad passed away when I was fourteen but he left me just enough money to go to college, inspiring me to help deserving young people pursue college degrees.

“I would hasten to tell alumni that without private gifts, Ole Miss would not be the university we know. Our future is unlimited as far as continually moving ahead, but resources are an absolute requirement.”

Friou began his career at Standard Oil (now Chevron) and retired as vice chairman and CFO of Jitney Jungle Stores of America in 1997. He served for 14 years on the board of the Luckyday Foundation, which provides major scholarship support and other programming at Ole Miss for academically deserving students with financial need. The Frious are the parents of two sons, Tom and Stuart, and five grandchildren.

Naming opportunities remain available for the grand gates at the north, east and west entrances as well as a limited number of individual gates. In 2018, the stadium’s south entrance was named for Diane and J.L. Holloway of Ridgeland; Gate 4 was named for Doug and Jane Simmons of Hollandale, Mississippi; and Gate 2 was named the Braddock-Beagle Family Gate in memory of Larry “Big L” Braddock.

For more information about the Gate Naming Initiative, contact the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7782 or visit www.givetoathletics.com/gates.