INAUGURAL CLASs: Foundation announces 14 HPSD Hall of Fame members


Fourteen distinguished alumni of Hattiesburg’s city schools will be inducted into the inaugural HPSD Foundation Hall of Fame during a two-day event Oct. 4-5.

Inductees for the first-ever Hattiesburg Hall of Fame class come from the fields of business, politics, education, medicine, entertainment, journalism and sports.

“These individuals are very unique in their accomplishments but reveal a common theme of the excellence that has evolved from Hattiesburg High, Rowan, Eureka, etc.,” said Hugh Bolton, a member of the Hall of Fame Steering Committee. “I encourage our community to embrace and acknowledge these worthy individuals and their accomplishments.” 

The Foundation’s Hall of Fame steering committee selected these 14 alumni, including three posthumously, for the Hattiesburg Public School District Foundation Class of 2018:

• Former Professional Golfers Association president James Ray Carpenter; 

• Ten-time Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year Rick Cleveland; 

• Public servant and the first African-American mayor of Hattiesburg, Dr. Johnny L. DuPree; 

• Five-time National Football League Pro Bowl selection Harold Jackson; 

• Former Morehouse College president and former Chair, Bank of America, Dr. Walter E. Massey; 

• President and CEO of Camellia Healthcare Abb Payne; 

• Orthopedic surgeon and a founder of Southern Bone and Joint Specialists, Dr. Doug Rouse: 

• President of the University of West Florida, Dr. Martha Saunders; 

• Former National Basketball Association star player Purvis Short; 

• Hattiesburg developer and businessman Robert O. Tatum; 

• Writer of 21 No. 1 country music songs, Craig Wiseman; 

• The late Jesse L. Brown, the first African-American pilot in the United States Navy; 

• The late Evelyn Gandy, the first female lieutenant governor of Mississippi; 

• The late Bobby Myrick, a Major League Baseball pitcher who later became a businessman in Hattiesburg;

“The process of identifying the individuals for the inaugural class has shown me, to an even greater degree, the number and depth of accomplishments of our graduates over the years,” said Bolton, a 1972 Hattiesburg High School graduate. “I believe this class is an outstanding representation of those gifts and accomplishments we are seeking to recognize and identify.”

The HPSD Foundation is hosting the Hall of Fame as a fund-raising event, with proceeds going to benefit students and staff of the school district.

The public will have several opportunities on October 4-5 to interact with the inaugural Hattiesburg Hall of Fame Class inductees. The gala at the Eureka School Museum, which has recently been restored to historical accuracy by the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, is the signature event but the Class of 2018 also will be available at a planned VIP Reception before the banquet and official presentation at the Hattiesburg High homecoming game on Friday night.

Also on October 4, inductees will be showcased at a media conference, at an alumni-sponsored luncheon and at the VIP reception at Eureka before the banquet.

Tickets to the VIP reception can be purchased only online for $25 by going to or

On October 5, the inductees will be introduced at a Hattiesburg Public School District Homecoming brunch, they will be celebrated at an alumni luncheon, they will meet student leaders and they will be recognized at the Hattiesburg High homecoming football game at D.I. Patrick Stadium against Pearl River Central.

All proceeds from the Hall of Fame weekend will go to the Foundation, which gives scholarships, helps teachers, assists with early childhood educational difficulties and provides helps with school extracurricular activities like athletics, music and drama.

The Foundation plans to continue the Hall of Fame inductions and activities each year.

“The number of worthy graduates seems to be inexhaustible and certainly they will be recognized in future classes,” Bolton said.

While the spotlight will be on the Hall of Fame inductees, it is hoped that the students now in the Hattiesburg Public School District will take note of their success and strive to be successful in life, too.

“It is often said that a tree is known by the fruit that it bears,” retired educator and Event Chair Michael Marks said. “We are excited to join Hattiesburg Public Schools in their effort to reclaim alumni who typify nationally accepted standards of excellence.”

Business, patrons and alumni who would like to become official sponsors for the scholarship gala should go online to for more information or email requests and/or questions to  

The Hattiesburg Public School District Foundation is classified as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal revenue Code.  Donations to the Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Inaugural Class of 2018


James Ray Carpenter (Hattiesburg High, 1945) was a standout basketball player in high school, but he rose to fame in another sport, serving as the national president of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America in 1987-88.
Carpenter was an All-Big 8 Conference selection as a basketball player at HHS, signing with Mississippi State University and transferring to Mississippi Southern. Later, he served as the longtime pro at Southern Miss’ Van Hook Golf Course.
Carpenter became President of Mississippi PGA, President of Gulf States PGA, Mississippi PGA Professional of the Year, Gulf States PGA Professional of the Year, National Vice President of PGA, Chairman of 1985 Ryder Cup, National President of PGA (’87-’88), Mississippi Pro Sportsman of the Year by the Jackson Touchdown Club (’87) and Golf Person of the Year by Southern Golf Journal (’88).
Carpenter also is enshrined in the halls of fame of Mississippi Sports, the PGA of America, Southern Miss M-Club and the Gulf States PGA.
Carpenter served as Director of Golf at both Timberton and Shadow Ridge golf clubs in Hattiesburg.

Rick Cleveland (Blair High, 1970) was the sports editor of the Hattiesburg High School newspaper, Hi-Flashes, and went on to become a 10-time Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year.
Cleveland, who began his journalism career at age 13, is the most awarded sports writer in Mississippi history.
He began his career at the Hattiesburg American newspaper and became the sports editor. After working one year in Monroe, La., Cleveland moved back to Mississippi to Jackson to write for the Jackson Daily News and The Clarion-Ledger, where he served as sports columnist and sports editor. He later became the executive director and historian of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame (2012-16) before joining Mississippi Today as its sports editor.
Cleveland, who is also a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, has written four books and also writes a syndicated sports column that is published by several Mississippi newspapers.
While at Hattiesburg High School, he played on the school’s golf team.

Dr. Johnny L. DuPree (Hattiesburg High, 1972), a track athlete and member of the student council in high school, has served his community in government service for more than 30 years, becoming the first African-American mayor for the city of Hattiesburg.
DuPree was appointed in 1987 to the Hattiesburg Public School Board and, beginning in 1991, he served as District 4 supervisor in Forrest County for three terms. For five years, DuPree was on the Hattiesburg Public School District's Board of Trustees.
He was elected mayor of Hattiesburg in 2001 and served in that position for the next 16 years. During his time as mayor, DuPree helped bring more than $30 million of federal and state funding to Hattiesburg for housing and infrastructure development.
DuPree, who also was in a choral group and played a little basketball in high school, also became the president of the Mississippi Municipal League in 2007 and was the Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Mississippi in 2011. 

Harold Jackson (Rowan High, 1964) played on some great football teams at Rowan and took his skills all the way to the National Football League, where he was selected to play in five Pro Bowls.
Jackson went from Rowan to Jackson State, where he led the SWAC in receiving in 1965 and 1966. He was drafted in the 12th round of the NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams.
In the NFL — playing for the Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks — Jackson caught 10,372 yards of passes and scored 76 touchdowns. He averaged 17.9 yards per catch. In the 1970s, Jackson led the NFL in receptions, yards receiving and touchdowns by a receiver. He played for
After retiring from the NFL as a player, Jackson coached receivers for 10 years in the league, with New England, Tampa Bay and New Orleans. He served as the receivers coach at Baylor and as the head coach at Jackson State.
He is in the Black College Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Dr. Walter E. Massey (Royal Street High School, 1954), is an American educator, physicist, and executive who was so brilliant in the 10th grade at Royal Street High School that he was awarded a scholarship to Morehouse College, and later he became president of the school.
Dr. Massey has been chancellor of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 2016 and previously served as its president, beginning in 2010. He is also chairman of the board overseeing construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope and serves as trustee chair of the City Colleges of Chicago.
Massey was Morehouse president for 10 years and he is also a former head of the National Science Foundation, managing director of Argonne National Laboratory and chairman of Bank of America. He also has served on the boards of several major multi-national corporations.
Massey is the only individual to have received both the Enrico Fermi Award for Science and Technology from the Chicago Historical Society and the Public Humanities Award from Illinois Humanities.

Abb Payne (Hattiesburg High, 1994), is President and CEO of Camellia Healthcare.
A three-year starter on the Hattiesburg High baseball team (1994 state champion) and a member of the HHS Debate Team, Payne has led Camellia Healthcare for 16 years. The company operates 38 home health, hospice and private duty locations in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, employing more than 1,200 caregivers.
Payne was awarded a Top 40 Mississippian's Under 40 Award in 2006. Camellia Healthcare was named one of the Best Places to Work in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal every year from 2007 to 2017. Inc. Magazine recognized the firm as the fastest growing business in Mississippi and one of the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America in 2013 and 2014. Mississippi Business Journal has awarded Camellia Healthcare as Fast 40: Mississippi's 40 Fastest Growing Companies.
Payne, who played a role in the play “A Few Good Men” at HHS, received the Sales and Marketing Professionals’ 2017 Bud Kirkpatrick Practitioner Award and is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Area Development Partnership.

Doug Rouse, MD (Hattiesburg High, 1966), is an orthopedic surgeon who was one of the founders of Southern Bone and Joint Specialists, P.A., in Hattiesburg.
Rouse played football, baseball and basketball at Hattiesburg High and football at Southern Miss and received his medical degree from the University of Mississippi. He completed a fellowship in arthroscopy and sports medicine at the Toronto Western Hospital and has practiced orthopedics in Hattiesburg since 1981.
Rouse has served on various committees and boards in the community, including The Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning, from which he recently retired as president.
He is a member of the University of Southern Mississippi’s Alumni Hall of Fame and is a member of the President’s Circle of the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation. In 2012, Rouse received the Jack C. Hughston, M.D. Sports Medicine Person of the Year Award by the Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association.
At HHS, he was sophomore and junior class president and student body president, Mr. Hattiesburg High School and also sang in the Meistersingers.

Dr. Martha Saunders (Hattiesburg High, 1966) is one of the top academic officials in the nation, currently serving as the President of the University of West Florida and Professor of Communications.
She also has served as the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the ninth president of The University of Southern Mississippi.
At Southern Miss, Saunders oversaw $255 million in building projects in five years while distinguishing herself as a fierce advocate for academic quality and ethical business processes. She stepped down as the school’s president in 2012 to develop the university’s Evelyn Gandy Women’s Center for Leadership.
Her awards include: 50 Top Business Women in Mississippi, Class of 2012; National Stevie Award for Women in Business, 2011; National Silver Anvil Award, Public Relations Society of America, 2011; Alumni Hall of Fame, Southern Miss 2010; The Hub Award (City of Hattiesburg) 2010.
At Hattiesburg High, Saunders was a Top 20 honors graduate, the managing editor of Hi-Flashes, the school newspaper, and was a member of Y Teens and Quill and Scroll clubs.

Purvis Short (Hattiesburg High, 1974) learned to put a little arc on his jump shots while playing for the Tigers, and he went on to become a prolific scorer in the National Basketball Association.
Short, who led Hattiesburg High to its last boys’ state championship, in 1974, played 12 seasons in the NBA and scored in double figures in 11 of those seasons. For his NBA career, the 6-foot-7 forward played in 842 games and averaged 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while playing for the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and New Jersey Nets. In 1984-85, he averaged 28.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists. On Nov. 17, 1984, playing for the Warriors against the Nets,  Short scored a career-high 59 points.
Short also played three seasons at Jackson State University, averaging 28.5 points in 1978, before being the fifth overall player selected in the NBA draft.
Short, whose late brother Eugene also was a star basketball player, is now the Chief of Player Programs for the NBA Players Association.

Rob Tatum (Hattiesburg High, 1997) has been involved in many business developments but his latest, Midtown, is the one that has garnered plenty of attention in Hattiesburg and throughout the state.
Tatum is the local developer for the $35 million mixed-use project, which includes a hotel, restaurants, shops and apartments.
Tatum also developed Hub City Lofts in downtown Hattiesburg, along with more than 1,200 Class A apartment units.
He sits on the advisory boards of his family businesses, including The Merchants Company and Mississippi Tank Company. He also serves as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church, is on the board of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association and the Trustmark National Bank Advisory Board. He also serves on the steering committee for the Endowment Campaign for the Edwards Street Fellowship Center.
Tatum, a Magna Cum Laude graduate of The University of Mississippi and later attended the AB Freeman School of Business at Tulane University.
At Hattiesburg High, Tatum was on the swim team and played on the 1997 state championship baseball team and had a role in the HHS musicals The Wiz and Guys and Dolls, which was featured on the international broadcast of The American Teacher Awards. He is the recipient of Sales and Marketing Professionals’ 2017 Bud Kirkpatrick Practitioner Award and was recently selected as William Carey University’s Small Business Leadership Award.

Craig Wiseman (Blair High, 1981) grew up in Hattiesburg writing and playing drums, then he moved to Nashville, where his passion became legendary. He’s not done yet, but Wiseman already has been named the Songwriter of the Century by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Wiseman has more than 300 cuts, 100 singles and 26 No. 1 songs. His songs have been recorded by the likes of Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Dolly Parton and Blake Shelton.
He opened his own publishing company, Big Loud Shirt Publishing, in 2003 and in the first year, his song “Live Like You Were Dying,” sung by McGraw, was No. 1 for 10 weeks. It also was named the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Song of the Year and won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song.
In 2003, 2005 & 2007, ASCAP named Wiseman Songwriter of the Year. In 2009, he was named NSAI’s Songwriter of the Decade and he won the 2014 Heritage Award from ASCAP as the most performed country songwriter of the century.


Jesse LeRoy Brown (Oct. 13, 1926-Dec. 4, 1950, Eureka High School, 1944) was a brilliant student, the salutatorian of his high school class, and went on to become the first African-American pilot in the United States Navy.
He was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and was the first African-American naval officer killed in the Korean War.
Two United States presidents, Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan, praised Brown for his service and sacrifices.
Brown, who spoke fluent French by the time he got to Eureka High School, where he participated in basketball, football and track and field, went to Ohio State University, where he got into a U.S. Navy program designed to recruit college students to become pilots.
Brown earned his pilot wings on Oct. 21, 1948.
Brown, an ensign, flew 20 combat missions before his F4U Corsair aircraft came under fire and crashed on a remote mountaintop on Dec. 4, 1950, while supporting ground troops at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Brown died of his wounds.
The frigate USS Jesse L. Brown (FF-1089) was named in his honor.

Evelyn Gandy (Sept. 4, 1920-Dec. 23, 2007) (Hattiesburg High, 1938) broke glass ceilings in government and politics throughout her life, serving as Captain of the HHS Debate Team and later as the first female insurance commissioner, state treasurer and lieutenant governor of Mississippi.
She was the only woman in her graduating class from Ole Miss Law School and the first woman editor of the Mississippi Law Review. In 1947, Gandy was elected to the state House of Representatives from Forrest County.
She co-authored legislation that created the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Gandy, also a lawyer, supported legislation that favored increased funding for education and improved access to human services.
Gandy also ran, unsuccessfully, for governor.
She won numerous awards, including the Mississippi Woman of the Year Award in 1980 from Mississippi State University; Mississippian of the Year in Government in 1981 and the Mississippi Women's Political Caucus Susan B. Anthony Award for Outstanding Service to the State of Mississippi in 1984. Gandy was named to the University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame in 1985.

Bobby Myrick (Oct. 1, 1952-Aug. 23, 2012) (Blair High, 1970) was a baseball phenom in his younger years and turned his ability into getting to the major leagues as a left-handed pitcher.
Myrick was a three-sport star at Hattiesburg, also playing football and basketball, before concentrating on baseball at Mississippi State University, where he was an All-Southeastern Conference pitcher.
He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 20th round of the 1974 Major League Draft and made it to the big leagues in 1976. He pitched three seasons, mostly as a reliever. He went 1-0 with a 2.96 ERA in 20 relief appearances in 1976.
After his baseball career ended, Myrick returned to Hattiesburg to the family business, Economy Supply Co.  
He also performed in several local theater productions and was an excellent singer. Myrick supported the Hattiesburg community in various ways and led a ministry when he died in 2012 while mowing the lawn of a widow.