Special to the Item
The Picayune Item
For the first time in Decatur’s East Central Community College (ECCC) history, a husband and wife have been named Alumnus and Alumna of the Year, respectively.
Max and Carolyn Cook Huey of Picayune, both members of the Class of 1965, were recently selected for the honors after each was nominated by a different person and later selected by a committee of ECCC alumni representatives. They will be recognized during the college’s annual homecoming celebration.
The couple said they were surprised when College President Dr. Billy Stewart contacted them regarding their selection.
“What a wonderful honor,” Carolyn Huey said of her selection. “I thought what have I done to deserve this? So many others I’m sure have done much more.”
“I was humbled and honored when I received the call,” said Max Huey.
Max Huey retired in 2012 as CEO and Chairman of the Board at First National Bank in Picayune, a position he held since 1990. Carolyn is a retired school teacher, who taught upper elementary and junior high school in Petal before teaching junior high school in Picayune.
The Hueys are both active in civic and professional organizations and have been dedicated to bettering the communities in which they have lived.
“One of the themes I took from East Central (Community College) was that one needed to work hard and improve the community in which they live,” Max Huey said.
Carolyn Huey added, “I have been very active in civic organizations all my life. The Civic Woman’s Club motto ‘Service to your community is the price you pay for the space you occupy’ has always stood out to me, perhaps because I’ve always tried to serve my community wherever we lived.”
Prior to working at the First National Bank of Picayune, Max Huey’s 41 year career in banking included positions at Deposit Guaranty Bank in Petal and Hattiesburg where he was a member of the Mississippi Bankers Association and served on the Executive Committee.
He was a member of the Petal Optimist Club for 20 years and was active in coaching Dixie Youth sports when his children were young. Since moving to Picayune, he has been active in the Rotary Club and for many years helped organize and participated in the group’s annual Fishing Rodeo for special education children. He was the recipient of the R.H. Crosby President’s Cup and was selected Rotarian of the Year.
In 2009, he was selected Citizen of the Year by the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce.
Max recently completed a five-year term on the Mississippi Community College Board and is a former member of the Pearl River Community College Board of Trustees.
Carolyn Huey spent 29 years as a school teacher before retiring in 1996. She was nominated on several occasions for Who’s Who Among American Teachers and was nominated for Teacher of the Year in 1991.
She served as President of the Petal Association of Educators and was a member of Alpha Delta Kappa national teachers’ organization. She helped organize the Picayune chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa where she served as the group’s first President and received a 25-year service certificate.
She is a member of the Picayune Civic Woman’s Club, of which she was named Clubwoman of the Year in 1996 and served as Grand Marshal of the Christmas Parade that same year. Carolyn was also selected Outstanding New Club Member in 1993.
As a member of the Mississippi Federation of Woman’s Clubs (MFWC), Carolyn served in various positions including secretary and president-elect prior to her term as state president from 2008-2010. She received the Jennie Award in 2006, the highest award given to a state member for leadership.
For her “President’s Special Project,” a statewide initiative by the MFWC, she chose an Emergency Needs Fund for Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cardiology Department, which raised in excess of $80,000.
“I chose Batson’s Cardiology Department after our second grandchild, Jonathan, was born with Hypo-Plastic Left Heart Syndrome,” Carolyn said. “By the time he was two years old he had three open heart surgeries at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We were there for everything and were able to be in a room attached to the hospital. Others were not as fortunate and were sleeping on couches and getting dressed in public restrooms. This made me aware of the need for funds to help those who couldn’t take care of themselves.”
Both Max and Carolyn served as co-chairs of the Highlanders Club, a Foundation set up to support the new Highland Community Hospital in Picayune.
They are also active members of First Baptist Church, Picayune, and have served on numerous committees. Carolyn has also been active in the church choir and mixed ensemble.
Both Max and Carolyn credit family as their greatest influences.
“My parents, Cline and Mary Lee Cook were very hard working and always wanted better for their children,” Carolyn said. “Getting an education and attending college was mandatory.”
Neighbors, high school friends and college roommates were also among those who all had a great effect on Carolyn’s life. “It looks like it took the whole community to raise me.” she said.
One such neighbor, Winifred McElhaney Vincent, widow of former ECCC President W. Arno Vincent, said of Max and Carolyn Huey, “I believe a cross-stitch sampler done by their daughter, Renee, says it all, ‘Chance made us neighbors, hearts made us friends.’ They are most deserving of this honor bestowed on them.”
In addition to his mother, Willie Mae Huey, insisting he attend college, Max Huey said his brothers, who all still reside in the Decatur area, encouraged him to attend and have always been very supportive of him.
Both credit their time at the college as some of their best days. And it was there that they first met.
“I had served three years in the Army before coming to East Central. I promised my mother I would go to college if she would sign for me to join the Army. I was only 17 at the time,” Max said. “So when I returned to go to college, I applied to drive the school bus. Carolyn was the last house on the route and I didn’t pick her up.
“I was in the registration line outside Huff Auditorium later that day and she proceeded to chew me out. When she left, I asked the principal who she was and I made sure to pick her up the next day.”
Carolyn Huey was active in the music department at East Central and was a member of the band, choir and Bell Cantos ensemble. She also participated in the Baptist Student Union.
Max Huey said he made many friends at East Central and still maintains those friendships today. But his involvement in campus life was limited as he spent most of his time working.
“I worked and drove a bus. On the weekends, I worked at Charles Sims’ Shell Station. I only had time to go to class and attend all performances of the Bell Cantos!” he said.
Max Huey completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration and has completed additional studies at Louisiana State University. Carolyn Huey received her bachelor’s in education and later received a master’s in education from William Carey College (now University).
Following their graduation from USM, Max and Carolyn were married in 1968.
They agreed their greatest accomplishment is their family, which Carolyn said includes “two fabulous children and six sweetie-pies.”
Their daughter, Renee, lives in Olive Branch with her husband, Lance Presley, and three children, Jonathan, Joshua and Payton. Their son,Stewart, lives in Picayune with his wife, Julie, and children, Madalyn, Lauren and Hadley.
Since retiring, the Hueys enjoy traveling and spending time with family and friends. They are currently dividing time between their home in Picayune and a newly built home in Decatur.