Bobby Rex Ratliff, who dedicated his career to promoting agriculture, died July 3, 2016, just days after his retirement from Mississippi State University. He was 65.
A native of Oxford, Ratliff earned a bachelor’s in education from Ole Miss before coming to Mississippi State where he earned a bachelor’s in print and broadcast communications in 1975 and a master’s in social studies in 1978.
In the 1980s and early 90s, Ratliff worked as vice president and farm director of the Progressive Farmer Radio Network before ultimately returning to Mississippi State. For the next 22 years he served in various roles including science writer for University Relations, editor for Mississippi Landmarks and MAFES Research Highlights magazines, and interim head of Agricultural Communications. His most recent role was marketing and communications coordinator for the Extension Center for Government and Community Development.
He was selected for many honors during his career including traveling to Russia and Hungary with John Block, former secretary for the USDA. Among the many awards recognizing his work is 1987 Farm Broadcaster of the Year from the National Association of Farm Broadcasters and, most recently, an Award of Excellence for Writing from the Association for Communication Excellence.
Wesley Ammon (B.A. political science, ’85; M.S. public policy and administration, ’88) 53, Starkville – A native of Vicksburg, he was director of the University Academic Advising Center and had a widespread influence on the students at Mississippi State. A popular instructor, with high ratings from students, he regularly lectured to packed classrooms with more than 100 pupils. He was an avid Bulldog sports fan and a member of the Calvary Baptist Church. – Aug. 29, 2016
George Edward Bishop (B.S. management, ’53) 85, Jackson – A member of Sigma Chi, he was president of ODK Honor Society and a Distinguished Air Force ROTC student. He spent two years on active duty with the Air Force before retiring as a captain with the Mississippi Air National Guard. He worked for Allstate Insurance for 32 years, ending his career in Jackson in personnel management. He was a member of the Gideon’s Bible Society, Jackson Photographic Society, Mid-Mississippi Radio Control Club, Jackson Touchdown Club and the 120 Club. – Aug. 7, 2016
Ramona Carpenter (friend) 54, Baton Rouge, Louisiana – She was a physical therapy assistant and worked for several clinics in Baton Rouge, including Baton Rouge Mid City Clinic where she started her career. – June 11, 2016
Earnest Earl Cosby (B.S. accounting, ’55) 86, Jackson – As a member of the Navy, he served on the USS Curtiss during the Korean War. He played football at Mississippi State and began working with Arthur Andersen & Co. following his graduation. He retired after 32 years as senior managing partner and went into private consulting for Bill Walker Industries. He served many organizations and charities including the Boy Scouts of America and Broadmoor Baptist Church. – June 5, 2016
Bill Dooley (B.S. business information systems, ’56) 82, Wilmington, North Carolina –A native of Mobile, Alabama, he earned All-SEC honors while playing football for the Bulldogs. He is best known for his coaching career within the Atlantic Coast Conference where he lead the North Carolina Tar Heels for 11 seasons becoming the school’s only coach to win multiple conference championships. He later served as head coach at Wake Forest and Virginia Tech where he was also athletics director. He started his coaching career at the University of Georgia under his brother, Vince. He won 161 games during his combined 26 years as a head coach. – Aug. 9, 2016
Ralph H. Doxey Jr. (attended) 36, Tupelo –A member of Phi Delta Theta, he earned a degree in marketing from the University of Mississippi. He was a member of the West Main Church of Christ in Tupelo and spent 14 years as a firefighter in both Olive Branch and Holly Springs. – Aug. 4, 2016
Edwin Wayne Dulaney (B.S. agricultural engineering, ’68) 71, Clarksdale – A farmer, he was a member of the Elk Lodge and the Delta Council. – June 13, 2016
William Butler Earthman Jr. (B.S. mechanical engineering, ’55) 81, Vicksburg – He retired from International Paper after 38 years of serving in various engineering and management positions. He later worked as project manager for Raytheon in Mobile, Alabama. He was a Licensed Professional Engineer and member of ASME and TAPPI. Following his second retirement, he had an antique business and was an advocate for the Vicksburg-Warren Humane Society. – May 21, 2015
Robert Gaston Jr. (B.S. finance, ’55) 83, Calhoun City – He served in the Army Finance Corps in Frankfurt, Germany, before returning to Mississippi to work in banking. He retired from Sunburst Bank and returned to Calhoun City where he was a deacon at First Baptist Church. He was a charter member of Calhoun County Historical and Genealogical Society and the David Murphree Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. – July 20, 2016
Clinton H. Graves Jr. (B.S. botany, ’50) 89, Starkville – He earned a doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin where he was a Rockefeller Scholar and Research Foundation Fellow. He joined the plant pathology faculty at MSU in 1953 where he remained until his retirement in 1992. During his career he authored or co-authored more than 170 research publications and earned many professional awards. He played piano for Men for the Master of First United Methodist Church. He was also a member of the Kiwanis Club and Faith Baptist Church. – Aug. 9, 2016
John Paul Grice (B.S. accounting, ’68) 69, Houston, Texas – A native of Vicksburg, he graduated from Mississippi State as an ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate and later saw combat in Vietnam as a member of the Infantry. He was active in veteran’s programs, including the board of the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans at MSU. He spent more than 20 years with ExxonMobile and later started his own consulting firm. – October 21, 2015
Horton Holcombe Hobbs III (M.S. botany, ’69) 71, Fleetwood, North Carolina – A native of Florida, he was a professor of biology and department chair at Wittenberg University in Ohio. He was a Fellow of the Explorers Club, National Speleological Society and Ohio Academy of Science. He served on the boards of the American Cave Conservation Association, Cave Conservancy of the Virginias, Karst Waters Institute and the Ohio Academy of Science. – Aug. 29, 2016
Willie Glenn Howell Jr. (B.S. accounting, ’72) 65, Tupelo – He was comptroller for the city of Aberdeen for 31 years before serving as Amory’s city clerk for two years. As a member of First Baptist Church of Aberdeen and later First Baptist Church of Amory, he was a deacon, Sunday school teacher and church treasurer. – July 15, 2016
Diane N. Hughes (B.A. statistics, ’68) 69, Jackson – A member of Chi Omega sorority, she was secretary of the junior class and part of Cardinal Key while at Mississippi State. She worked in a branch of the president’s office at the University of Virginia and later Motors Insurance Corp. in Jackson. She was active in Covenant Presbyterian Church and Jackson Preparatory School while her children were students. – May 26, 2015
Elizabeth Ann Trevathan Johnson (B.A. economics, ‘94) 44, Vernon, Alabama – A member of Kappa Delta sorority while at MSU, she was Miss Reveille, first alternate for Miss MSU and a national finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. After graduation, she was an account executive for WTOK-TV in Meridian and WBIR-TH in Knoxville, Tennessee. She later became director of development for the College of Arts & Sciences for the Mississippi State Foundation and worked as an economic and business development consultant. – June 22, 2016
Robert L. Liddell Sr. (B.S. aerospace engineering, ’48) 92, Arlington, Texas – He interrupted his collegiate studies for military service at the start of WWII. By the end of the war, he was a first lieutenant. He returned to MSU and became president of Sigma Chi. He spent his career with Chance Vought Aircraft, later known as Vought/LTV. He was named an Eminent Engineer by Sigma Gamma Tau honor society and a member of Who’s Who in Aviation and Aerospace. He was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award by Mississippi State. – April 19, 2016
Michael Link (Ph.D. history, ’66) 79, Russellville, Arkansas – He graduated from Henderson State University where he was a lineman on the football team before attending Mississippi State and later Protestant University of Paris. He was a professor of history and adviser at Arkansas Tech University for more than 50 years. He was a member of the European Section of the Southern Historical Association. – April 19, 1937
William Laney Littlejohn (M.A. economics, ‘65) 74, Houston, Texas – He taught economics at the University of Missouri and Illinois State University before beginning a career in long-range planning for Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia. He retired to Houston, Texas, where he was active in West University Rotary Club and the Houston Philosophical Society. – August 4, 2016
Jewel Chester McKee Jr. (B.S. electrical engineering, ’44; retired faculty) 92, Louisville, Colorado – He spent his childhood on the campus of Mississippi State University before joining the Navy where his first job was as an engineering officer during WWII. Two days after leaving the service, he returned to MSU as an instructor. He ultimately became vice president for research and graduate studies before retiring in 1979. He spent the next 10 years as director of associateships and fellowships for the National Academy of Sciences. After Hurricane Camille in 1969, he was recruited to chair the Governor’s Emergency Council for the Mississippi Gulf Coast where he was instrumental in the adoption of the federal 1970 Disaster Relief Act. – June 7, 2016
Ray H. Means Jr. (B.S. animal husbandry, ’57) (B.S. animal husbandry, ’57) 80, Lake Mary, Florida – The holder of two patents, he designed, implemented construction and managed installation of equipment into beef, pork and seafood facilities across the Americas and the Caribbean. He served as director of operations at Hardee’s/FFM processing products for the food service industry. As vice president of operations for Mitsui, he was the first to successfully develop a process for producing and marketing shelf-stable tuna products. Following his retirement, he oversaw catastrophe assessments for insurance adjustors in Louisiana, Puerto Rico and islands in the Caribbean. He was a member of Kappa Sigma. – June 7, 2016
Deana Ruth Milstead Mears (B.S. agriculture communications, ’90) 46, Baldwyn – She was a support therapist for Timber Hills and served as a counselor for Crisis Intervention. She was a member of Mt. Olive Baptist Church. – March 25, 2016
Dan V. Mitchell (B.S. banking and finance, ’75) 63, Philadelphia – He was a member of the MSU golf team and worked as an insurance agent for 30 years, originally with Lamar Life and later with his father at Reliable Insurance Agency. He was a member of Southside United Methodist Church choir, Philadelphia Country Club and MSU Alumni Association. – April 8, 2016
Robert Gerald Mohler Sr. (B.S. physical education, ’51) 95, Ocean Springs – Known as “Big M,” he walked onto Mississippi State’s football field at the age of 31 and not only made the team, but lettered in the sport. He later played for Biloxi’s semi-pro football and baseball teams. He was a pilot with the Navy and worked as an air traffic control instructor at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, where he helped many women pass the training, despite being told they would not succeed. He was a partner in many Biloxi businesses. – July 29, 2016
Linda Marie Wayland Pote (retired faculty) 63, Starkville – A retired professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, she studied avian and aquatic, molecular and general veterinary parasitology. She earned a master’s degree from Oregon State University and a doctoral degree from the University of Arkansas. – Sept. 26, 2016
Charles L. Sciple (B.S. agriculture economics, ’50) 90, Starkville – He served in WWII and received a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and numerous other commendations. He also served in the Korean War and received two Purple Hearts. He was a member of the Mississippi Agricultural Club, Cattlemen Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mississippi Employees Retirement Association and Sessums Community Club. – Sept. 5, 2016
Charles H. Thomas (retired faculty) 93, Starkville – He retired in 1987 after more than 30 years of teaching genetics to agricultural, biological science and pre-medical students at MSU. His work with students outside of poultry sciences earned him the nickname “Chicken Thomas.” A native of Georgia, he held degrees from the University of Georgia and North Carolina State University. He was adviser to Blue Key honor society and a WWII veteran.
James A. “Gene” Thomas (B.S. electrical engineering, ‘62) 81, Collierville, Tennessee – A native of Meridian, he worked for NASA at Cape Canaveral on early space programs including Mercury, Gemini and Apollo as a biomedical and communications systems engineer. He later became a shuttle program project engineer and director of all shuttle launch and landing operations. He retired in 1997 as deputy director of the Kennedy Space Center. – June 7, 2016
Thomas W. Worthington (B.S. civil engineering, ’50) 86, Beech Grove, Tennessee – While at State, he was vice president of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a member of the track team and Sigma Chi. He was a Distinguished Military Graduate and was commissioned into the Army during the Korean War. After his military service, he worked for M and W Construction in Tupelo before opening his own company, Worthington Construction in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which he operated for 32 years. He served Mississippi State in the Alumni Association, Foundation, Bulldog Club and various committees. – June 30, 2016
TaTonka’s Golden Son, known to the Mississippi State faithful as Champ, died August 21, 2016, just shy of his 11th birthday. He took on the title of Bully XX in 2009 and served until 2015 when he passed the harness to his son, Jak. He was the son of Bully XIX, TaTonka Gold
Homer Devon “Von” Graham Jr. (B.S. accounting, ’56) 82, Houston, Texas – An all-state football and basketball star at Batesville High School, he played golf for the Bulldogs. While at State he was grand master of Kappa Sigma fraternity, president of the Business School and a member of the Colonel’s Club. Following his graduation, he joined Arthur Andersen & Co., one of the country’s largest accounting firms, before taking a two-year leave to serve as a lieutenant in the Army.
Following his stint in the military, he transferred from Arthur Andersen’s Houston, Texas, office to New Orleans as a managing partner. He later returned to Texas as area managing partner for Houston, the Southwest and Southeast regions of the U.S., and Africa. He was part of the company’s Global Board of Partners for 16 years, including a year as chairman. He was also part of the firm’s Worldwide Executive Committee for 20 years.
Following his retirement in 1997, he became president and CEO of R.E. Smith Interest and a trustee for Smith Trusts. During his career he also served on the boards of directors for Freeport McMoRan Inc., McMoRan Exploration Co. and Wm. B. Reily Company Inc.
He served numerous civic organizations in both Houston and New Orleans, including art, education and charitable endeavors. He was elected king of New Orleans Carnival in 1985.
He served Mississippi State as a member of the MSU Foundation board of directors and the advisory board for the College of Business. He was named Alumnus of the Year and College of Business Distinguished Alumnus in 1985. In 2015, he was honored as one of the top 100 graduates of the College of Business in honor of its 100th anniversary. – July 22, 2016