July 11, 2017
Alumni Association to Honor Seven at Homecoming for Achievement, Service
The Ole Miss Alumni Association is honoring seven distinguished alumni with its highest annual awards as part of Homecoming 2017. Created in 1974, the Hall of Fame honors select alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to their country, state or the University of Mississippi through good deeds, services or contributions that have perpetuated the good name of Ole Miss.
Inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame for 2017 are: Don L. Frugé (BBA 67, JD 70) of Oxford; Walton Gresham III (BBA 71) of Indianola; Dr. James E. Keeton (BA 61, MD 65) of Jackson; Tom Papa (BBA 57) of Jackson; and Mary Sharp Rayner (BAEd 64) of Oxford.
William Winter (BA 43, LLB 49) of Jackson will receive the Alumni Service Award for service to the University and the Alumni Association over an extended period. Candie L. Simmons (BBA 02, MBA 15) of Ridgeland, will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni who have shown exemplary leadership throughout their first 15 years of alumni status in both their careers and dedication to Ole Miss.
The Alumni Association will host a reception for the honorees on Friday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss. A dinner for the award recipients will follow the reception at 7 p.m. Those interested in attending the dinner should register in advance by calling the Alumni Association office at 662-915-7375 before 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29. Cost of the dinner is $50 per person, or tables of 10 are available for $450.
Hall of Fame Awards
A 1963 graduate of Meridian High School, Frugé received his Bachelor of Business Administration and Juris Doctorate degrees from the University of Mississippi followed by a Master of Law degree in taxation from New York University in 1971. He joined the law faculty in 1971 and has continued to teach courses in estate planning, taxation and nonprofit organizations.
For 22 years, Frugé oversaw the growth of the University of Mississippi Foundation. During that time the university endowment grew from $8 million in 1984 to over $420 million when he retired in 2006, ranking it 35th nationally in endowment per student at public universities.
Frugé has served the University of Mississippi in a number of capacities, including professor of law, executive director of development, vice chancellor for university affairs, vice chancellor for university advancement, head golf coach and as president and CEO of the University of Mississippi Foundation. He serves as chairman of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation (2005 to present), a board member of the University of Mississippi Foundation, a member of the Joint Committee on University Investments (1984 to present) and professor emeritus of law.
A member of Phi Kappa Phi Fraternity, Frugé was named Alumnus of the Year, Beta Alpha Psi in 1991 and Law Alumnus of the Year in 2013. Frugé is an Eagle Scout and a former member of the Boy Scout Council.
Frugé and his wife, Mary Ann (BA 66, MA 70), are active members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford.
Walton Gresham III serves as president of Gresham Petroleum Co., secretary of Double Quick, secretary of Delta Terminal and director and member of the executive committee of Planters Bank & Trust Company.
He is active in his community and profession and is a past president of Delta Council, the Indianola Rotary Club, the Indianola Educational Foundation and the Indianola Chamber of Commerce. He is currently chairman of the Community Foundation of Sunflower County. Gresham is past president of the Mississippi Propane Gas Association and Mississippi Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association. He also served as the Mississippi director to the National Propane Gas Association.
A long-time volunteer leader, Gresham’s passion is to promote economic development and a better infrastructure in the Mississippi Delta and the state of Mississippi.
A graduate of Indianola High School and the University of Mississippi, Gresham has served on the University of Mississippi Alumni Board of Directors as well as the University of Mississippi Foundation Board. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and has remained active as an alumni volunteer.
Gresham is married to the former Laura Ethridge (BAEd 71) of Oxford, and they have two daughters and five grandchildren. He is a lifelong member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, serving in all offices over the past 45 years in addition to being a licensed lay reader.
Dr. James E. Keeton served as UMMC’s vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine from July 2009 to February 2015. He retired in January 2017 and holds emeritus status in these roles and as professor of surgery and pediatrics.
During his tenure, Keeton oversaw planning of and secured funding for a new, state-of-the-art School of Medicine building on the UMMC campus that is allowing UMMC to expand its medical class to train more doctors for Mississippi.
Keeton was also instrumental in planning the construction of the $25 million University Heart Center, the $68 million Translational Research Center and a $23 million public-private project to create housing close to campus for students and faculty. On the immediate horizon is a major expansion of the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital that will significantly advance pediatric health care in the state of Mississippi.
He shepherded UMMC through a $90 million, multi-year effort to implement an enterprise electronic health record that culminated in conversion from paper to computer records in a single day in June 2012.
Also under Keeton’s watch, UMMC’s liver transplant program was re-established after a 22-year hiatus, and Medical Center surgeons performed Mississippi’s first pancreas transplant.
He was named the 2014 Distinguished Medical Alumnus by his peers. The award is given to an alum who made distinctive contributions to the field of medicine.
The Columbus native is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and certified by the American Board of Urology. He and his wife, Jona (MSN 90), live in Jackson and are the proud parents of two children and grandparents to seven grandchildren.
Tom Papa was born and raised in Helena, Arkansas. He graduated high school from Subiaco Academy in May 1947 and joined the United States Armed Forces where he proudly served in the Navy. He went on to attend the University of Mississippi where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration. While at Ole Miss, Papa was an active member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He is often heard saying that some of the fondest memories he has are from his time spent as an undergraduate at Ole Miss.
After graduation, Papa returned to Jackson to work for the Internal Revenue Service. Shortly thereafter he began his private practice accounting career at Touche Ross & Co. where he later retired. Upon retirement, Papa helped form the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation where he served as president for many years. In 1998, the Ford Foundation awarded the University of Mississippi $20 million to design and build the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on the Oxford campus. Through his work at the foundation, Papa has been instrumental in the foundation’s support of the university, including gifts to the new state-of-the-art science building and the UMMC Mind Center.
Papa lives in Jackson with his wife Gayle. He is the father of two children and proud grandfather of four.
A native of Grenada, Mary Sharp Rayner graduated from Ole Miss in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She taught history, speech, and English for several years in the Jackson and Memphis public school systems. After she and her husband, Jim (MD 66), moved to Oxford she worked in his ophthalmology practice as a front office manager.
Since moving to Oxford in 1971, Rayner has been active in her community, church and the university. She was on the founding boards of Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the first Oxford Little Theatre. She has served on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Baptist North Mississippi Advisory Board, Oxford University Bank and LOFT. She has been active in her collegiate sorority, Delta Delta Delta, serving in many advisory capacities locally and as a national officer. In her church, Oxford University United Methodist, she has served on various committees and the administrative board numerous terms. She served as president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association from 2002 to 2003 and as a member of the board for the campaign for the expansion and renovation of The Inn at Ole Miss. She was chair of the Ole Miss Women’s Council from 2007 to 2009.
Presently she volunteers her time with several local organizations, her church, the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation Board of Governors and the Ole Miss Women’s Council. She remains active in the Ole Miss Alumni Association as a member of the board of directors.
Rayner and her husband have three children: Roane (BAccy 90), Whitney, and Bradley (BBA 00, BBA 02). She loves spending time with her four grandchildren: Mary Morgan, Sharp, Lila and James.
Alumni Service Award
William Winter served as Governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984. Prior to that he was elected to the offices of state representative, state tax collector, state treasurer and lieutenant governor. He served as chairman of the Southern Regional Education Board, the Commission on the Future of the South, the National Civic League, the Kettering Foundation, the Foundation for the Mid-South, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Ole Miss Alumni Association.
Winter was a member of President Clinton’s National Advisory Board on Race and was instrumental in the founding of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi. He was awarded the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
Winter is a fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation. In 1998, he was the recipient of the Mississippi Bar’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
His credentials within the academic community are long standing: Jamie Whitten Professor of Law and Government at the University of Mississippi School of Law (1989); Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies at Millsaps College (1989); Fellow, Institute of Politics, Harvard University (1985); and President, Ole Miss Alumni Association (1978).
Born in Grenada, Winter served overseas as an infantry officer in the Pacific in World War II. An attorney in the Jones Walker law firm in Jackson, he is married to the former Elise Varner (BA 48). They have three daughters, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Candie L. Simmons is a senior vice president and regional marketing director for Regions Financial Corporation in Jackson. In this position, she provides marketing and advertising support for the bank and its lines of business throughout the state. Additionally, she develops relationships with media and purchases advertising in these markets and serves as the community and public relations representative for this region. A native of Ocean Springs, she is the youngest African American on the bank’s Mississippi Executive Leadership Team and youngest senior vice president in Mississippi. In 2017, she was selected for Regions Financial Corporation’s prestigious Leaders at All Levels III Class.
Simmons was selected by the Mississippi Business Journal as a 2009 ‘Top 40 Under 40’ and 2013 ‘Top 50 Leading Business Woman’, where she placed in the top 10. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., where she just completed her second term as treasurer for her local chapter and was voted 2013 Soror of the Year.
She currently serves as the financial project chair for Beta Delta Omega Chapter and the area cluster coordinator for the Southeastern Region – initiated into Theta Psi Chapter at Ole Miss. She was also selected for the 2018 American Heart Association Executive Leadership Team and selected as a 2017 Champion of Change and a Woman Making a Difference in Madison County for the Madison County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Simmons is an active volunteer with the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi and serves as a board member for the Cure Sickle Cell Foundation and Make-A-Wish Mississippi. She is also a member of the International Community Ambassadors Network (I!CAN).