College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Alumni Association to Honor Outstanding Graduates at Homecoming

Recipients will be recognized on the field during Vanderbilt game

OCTOBER 9, 2017 BY

The Ole Miss Alumni Association is awarding seven distinguished University of Mississippi alumni with its highest annual awards as part of Homecoming 2017.

Inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame for 2017 are: Don Frugé (BBA 67, JD 70) of Oxford; Walton Gresham III (BBA 71) of Indianola; James E. Keeton (BA 61, MD 65) of Jackson; Tom Papa (BBA 57) of Jackson; and Mary Sharp Rayner (BAEd 64) of Oxford.

Former Gov. William Winter (BA history and political science ’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.

The Alumni Association will host a reception for the honorees at 6 p.m. Friday (Oct. 13) in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss. A dinner for the award recipients follows at 7 p.m.

Created in 1974, the Hall of Fame honors select alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to their country, state or university through good deeds, services or contributions that have perpetuated the good name of Ole Miss.

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have shown exemplary leadership throughout their first 15 years of alumni status in both their careers and dedication to Ole Miss.

Former Gov. 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.

Former Gov. William Winter will receive the Alumni Service Award for service to the university and the Alumni Association over an extended period.

Alumni Service Award recipient Winter served as governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984. Before 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 UM. He was awarded the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

In 1998, Winter was the recipient of the Mississippi Bar’s Lifetime Achievement Award. His credentials within the academic community are longstanding: Jamie Whitten Professor of Law and Government at the UM School of Law (1989); Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies at Millsaps College (1989); fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University (1985); and president of the 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.

The Outstand Young Alumni Award recipient, Simmons is a senior vice president and regional marketing director for Regions Financial Corp. in Jackson.

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 Corp.’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., recently completing her second term as treasurer for her local chapter and was voted 2013 Soror of the Year.

Simmons was 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.

Frugé is chairman and CEO of Fruge Capital Advisors LLC, an independently registered investment advisory firm. He is also of counsel at the Fruge Law Firm PLLC, of Oxford.

A 1963 graduate of Meridian High School, Frugé received his Bachelor of Business Administration and Juris Doctor degrees from UM 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.

Frugé has served the university 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 UM Foundation, a member of the Joint Committee on University Investments (1984 to present) and professor emeritus of law.

Frugé and his wife, Mary Ann (BA 66, MA 70), are active members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford.

Gresham 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 Co.

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 chairman of the Community Foundation of Sunflower County. Gresham is past president of the Mississippi Propane Gas Association and Mississippi Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. He also served as the Mississippi director to the National Propane Gas Association.

A longtime volunteer leader, Gresham’s passion is to promote economic development and a better infrastructure in the Mississippi Delta and the state of Mississippi.

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.

Keeton served as UMMC’s vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine from 2009 to 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 that is allowing UMMC to expand medical classes to train more doctors for Mississippi.

Keeton was 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.

He shepherded the Medical Center through a $90 million, multiyear effort to implement an enterprise electronic health record that culminated in conversion from paper to computer records in a single day in June 2012.

Keeton was named the 2014 Distinguished Medical Alumnus by his peers. The award is given to an alumnus who made distinctive contributions to the field of medicine.

Keeton and his wife, Jona (MSN 90), live in Jackson and are parents of two children and grandparents to seven grandchildren.

Papa was born and raised in Helena, Arkansas. He graduated high school from Subiaco Academy in May 1947 and joined the U.S. Navy. He went on to attend UM, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration. While at Ole Miss, Papa was an active member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

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. Upon his 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 $20 million to design and build the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Through his work at the foundation, Papa has been instrumental in the foundation’s support of the university, including gifts to the planned new science building and the UMMC Mind Center.

Papa lives in Jackson with his wife, Gayle. He is the father of two children and grandfather of four.

A native of Grenada, Rayner graduated from Ole Miss 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 served on the founding boards of Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the first Oxford Little Theatre. She also served on the boards of numerous other local organizations. She has remained active in her collegiate sorority, Delta Delta Delta, serving in many advisory capacities locally and as a national officer. She served as president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association from 2002 to ’03 and was chair of the Ole Miss Women’s Council in 2007-09.

Rayner 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 and four grandchildren.