Forever Maroon

In Memory of James F. “Bud” Thompson Jr.

James F. “Bud” Thompson Jr. (B.S. secondary education, ’62) 81, Meridian — A Yazoo City native, Thompson lived in Meridian, where he graduated from Meridian High School and attended Meridian Community College prior to joining the U.S. Marine Corps in 1954.

During his tour of duty, he served in the infantry and was selected as a member of the Presidential Guard to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Thompson was also selected as a member of the elite Marine Corps Silent Drill Team and traveled extensively throughout the United States. During his last year of service, he served as the Color Bearer of the USMC Battle Colors. He received an honorable discharge from the USMC followed by four years as a Marine Corps reservist while attending Mississippi State.

Following graduation from MSU, Thompson taught mathematics and coached football in Vicksburg. After that, he became an insurance agent with Wise and Smylie in Meridian. He later operated his own firm, Insurance Solutions of Mississippi, and he was a partner with Thompson Limited Partnerships.

For 52 years, Thompson served the Boy Scouts of America, receiving the Silver Beaver Award. The Meridian Star saluted Thompson as Citizen of the Year in 2009, and he received the Hartley Peavey Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence in 2011. He was also president of the Choctaw Area Council.
In 2016, Thompson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service from Mississippi State. He served the MSU Foundation board, MSU Athletic Council, MSU Alumni Association national board and was the MSU Bulldog Club president for two terms. Thompson also was a longtime member of the MSU-Meridian Deans and Directors Advisory Board. — Nov. 19, 2016.


George Adebiyi (retired faculty) 69, Starkville – A native of Nigeria, he came to the U.S. in 1984 as a visiting professor to Rust College in Holly Springs. He later joined the mechanical engineering department at Mississippi State where he eventually rose to the position of professor. Named professor emeritus after his 2010 retirement, he was still involved in academic activities including teaching summer courses and serving as a visiting professor to Bowen University in Nigeria. He earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Manchester, England, and a diploma in further education from Huddersfield Polytechnic, England. He was the author or co-author of three books, and shortly before his death, he launched the Lawrence and George Adebiyi Solar Energy Institute at Oluponna, Osun State, Nigeria, to help individuals and communities in the area achieve sustainable energy independence. – Oct. 8, 2016

Michael B. Ballard (B.A., M.A., Ph.D. history; ’75, ’76, ’83; retired staff) 69, Ackerman – A published Civil War historian, he served as Mississippi State’s university archivist and director of the MSU Congressional and Political Collection. He was a member, teacher and deacon at Ackerman Baptist Church. – Oct. 11, 2016

James E. Baughman (B.S. geoscience, ’59) 83, Gulfport – A veteran of the Korean conflict, he worked as an electronics instructor and retired as a training specialist at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. – Aug. 20, 2016

Thom Beasley (B.S. management, ’71) 67, Jonesboro, Arkansas – He was the agency manager for Craighead County Farm Bureau, one of the largest in the company’s southern district. – Nov. 29, 2016

Tomzie Berkshire (B.S., English education, ’62) 76, Richmond, Virginia – A high school teacher for nearly 40 years, she spent most of her career at Marist School in Atlanta where she furthered her love of music and the performing arts by directing and assisting with dozens of theater productions. She was a founder and first president of Phi Mu sorority at Mississippi State, where she was also a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies. She was a basketball cheerleader, which allowed her to meet her future husband, Jack Berkshire. She was also involved in Key Club, AROTC, the Reflector and Bulldog Boosters. She was a Reveille Beauty her senior year. – Dec. 3, 2016

Howard Chambers (retired faculty) 76, Starkville – He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M and a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkley, where he met his wife and fellow MSU faculty member, Jan. He spent his entire 48-year academic career serving the students of Mississippi State University as a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology, where he established a research program in insecticide toxicology. He is credited with synthesizing numerous chemicals, including potential antidotes that could save the lives and brain function of people attacked with chemical weapons. These patented antidotal chemicals will see continued development through his colleagues and students. – Dec. 3, 2016

Carl Cockrell (B.S. seed technology, ’59) 82, Shannon – He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean conflict before attending Mississippi State. He spent several years with Monsanto Co. in sales with the animal feed division, ultimately retiring as a systems analyst. He was an active member of St. Luke Methodist Church and its men’s club and coffee club. – Oct. 21, 2016

Taylor Graydon Flowers Jr. (B.S. general agriculture, ’51) 87, Dublin – He was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity and a life member of the Mississippi State Alumni Association. He was also a member of the Delta Council and served many years on the boards of Hopson Bayou Drainage District and Oldham Drainage District. – July 18, 2016

Betty Jean Gunn (M.S. elementary education, ’88) 77, Ridgeland – She was a member of Cash Baptist Church where she served as church pianist for more than 25 years. She taught at Sebastopol and Scott Central public schools, and served as bookkeeper for C&C Water Association. – Sept. 22, 2016

Veronica Leigh Hill (B.S. chemical engineering, ’84) 53, Baton Rouge, Louisiana – She worked for Dow Chemical until 2015. She was a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the mechanical engineering advisory council at Mississippi State and a board member at Gardere Community Christian School. – Oct. 28, 2016

Calvin Travis Hull (B.S. pre-medicine, ’55) 83, Jackson – He played trumpet in the Famous Maroon Band, was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha and served as president and treasurer of the MSU Student Body. He joined the Air Force following his graduation and served as a captain flying All Weather Interceptors. He earned a medical degree from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and became a teaching instructor for OB-GYN department in 1967. He also served as an assistant professor and clinical assistant professor before joining a private practice specializing in women’s care. He held leadership roles with the Jackson Gynesic Society, the MS OB-GYN Society, UMC OB-GYN Association and Phi Chi Medical Fraternity, as well as having membership in the American Medical Association and the Mississippi State Medical Association. He was chief of staff for River Oaks Hospital and Women’s Hospital. – Dec. 8, 2016

Wallace J. McRoy (B.S. civil engineering, ’39) 101, Homewood, Alabama – A native of Meridian, he was a member of the track team and Lambda Chi Alpha while at Mississippi State. He also achieved membership in the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi. During WWII, he worked as an engineer inspecting coal mines in Birmingham, Alabama, before forming is own consulting firm from which he retired in the 1980s. He was a Sunday school teacher, deacon and elder at First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham and was instrumental in the establishment of the Birmingham Track Club. – Oct. 8, 2016

Aubert Mike Pitts (B.S. mechanical engineering, ’58) 81, Lucedale – He was a member of the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. – Dec. 16, 2016

William Wallace “Bill” Robarts (B.S. physical education, ’67) 74, Lake Placid, Florida – He retired from the U.S. Air Force after 21 years. A faithful Methodist, he enjoyed photography and his family and friends. – Oct. 4, 2016

William L. “Bill” Sneed (B.S. business information systems, ’67) 71, Pontotoc – He was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity and received a law degree from the University of Mississippi. He was a member of the local and state bar associations and practiced in Pontotoc for almost 50 years, in addition to serving as city attorney for many years. – Nov. 11, 2016

Albert Hunter Spinks (B.S. agriculture, ’52; B.S. electrical engineering, ’61) 86, Burlington, North Carolina – After receiving his first bachelor’s degree, he spent two years in the military, earning the rank of first lieutenant before beginning a five-year farming career in the delta. He then changed career paths and became a certified professional electrical engineer after earning a second bachelor’s from MSU and a master’s from North Carolina State University. He spent 27 years with Lucent Technologies in several cities in New Jersey and North Carolina. – Nov. 12, 2016

Charles Ray Stockfisch (B.S. civil engineering, ’61) 79, Maryville, Tennessee – Following his time at Mississippi State, he earned a master’s degree from West Virginia University. Before his retirement in 1994, he worked for the Federal Highway Administration as project manager for demonstration projects in the Office of Technology Transfer. In that role, he implemented the Underwater Bridge Inspection Program and a mobile classroom designed to share state-of-the-art computerized traffic-control technology, which were both used in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. – Sept. 9, 2016

Arthur R. Taylor Jr. (B.S. agribusiness and pre-law, ’43) 94, Senatobia – He was a member of SAE fraternity. During his college years, he volunteered with the Navy and was stationed in Pensacola, Florida. He specialized as a gunnery instructor and also served in the Marine Corps in that role. He was later sent to Colgate College for special navigation courses on plane identification. He worked for Purina in the chicken, feed and seed business, and earned a law degree from the University of Memphis. He then formed a farm real estate business. He was a member of the Bulldog Club, president of the Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumni Association in 1989, a patron of excellence and member of the board of directors of the Original Century Club-now known as the Bulldog Club-and a member of the MSU Ag 100 Club. – Oct. 6, 2016

Charles G. VanHorn (B.S. petroleum geology, ’59) 78, Tupelo – He was self-employed in the furniture manufacturing industry for many years. He collected and catalogued more than 1,000 Native American artifacts in Calhoun County, which he donated to the Cobb Institute at Mississippi State. – Jan. 13, 2016

Christopher Lawrence Walker (B.S. chemical engineering, ’03) 37, Pearland, Texas – He was a member of the Eta Upsilon chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. He worked as a process control manager for Shell Oil Co., and was an active member of the extended site leadership team, as well as the Shell Black Networking Group. – Dec. 11, 2016