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Alumni honored, Bickham crowned at PRCC homecoming

Dr. William Lewis, Pearl River Community College president, congratulates Larke Bickham of Poplarville after crowning her homecoming queen Saturday. She is escorted by her father, Keith Bickham. PRCC Public Relations photo

Dr. William Lewis, Pearl River Community College president, congratulates Larke Bickham of Poplarville after crowning her homecoming queen Saturday. She is escorted by her father, Keith Bickham.
PRCC Public Relations photo


POPLARVILLE – Pearl River Community College celebrated homecoming Saturday, Oct. 11, with new facility dedications, alumni honors and the traditional crowning of the queen.
Dr. Elton and Joyce Raby of Hattiesburg were presented with the Distinguished Service Award for their work with the PRCC Alumni Association.
“I wish I could go back and thank those people at Pearl River who made a large investment in my life,” Joyce Raby said.
She and her husband met while students at Pearl River in the 1950s.
“Joyce and I have always loved Pearl River College,” Elton Raby said. “Thank you for what you’re doing.”
Gene Owens of Purvis, owner of Owens Business Machines in Hattiesburg, was named Alumnus of the Year.
“By any standard, this is a wow moment,” he said.
Owens supports PRCC because of the importance of education.
“If education is the answer, then investing in education is the solution,” he said. The awards were presented during the annual Alumni Luncheon.
Larke Bickham of Poplarville was crowned homecoming queen at halftime of the game against Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Her court included sophomore maids Kaitlin Cooper of Picayune and Jamie Davis of Wiggins; Forrest County Center sophomore maid Jelea Williams of Hattiesburg, freshman maids Caroline Cooper and Alexia Leleux, both of Picayune, and Ashton Whitfield of Carriere; Forrest County Center freshman maid Marissa Lee of Hattiesburg and Hancock Center Maid Shekinah Lewis of Waveland.
The day began with the induction of six star athletes into the PRCC Sports Hall of Fame – Gabe Ishee of Ridgeland, who played baseball in 1993-94; Larry Kendrick of Haynes City, Fla., football, 2003; J.W. Rawls of Hattiesburg, football, 1972-73; Erin Holder Schmitt of Buras, La., soccer, 2004-05 and an Oak Grove High School graduate; Brandi Tynes of Hattiesburg, softball, 2001-002 and a Columbia High School graduate; and Bill Wallace of Dothan, Ala., football, 1971-72.

Dr. John Grant Jr. of Poplarville, retired PRCC vice president, dedicated the new Marvin R. White Coliseum, which replaces the old facility destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. White served as president from 1968 to 1986. He died in December 2010.
“There was very little or any pretense about Dr. White,” Grant said. “You generally knew where he stood on an issue. We missed him and Mrs. White after he retired and they moved to Clinton.”
Mrs. White and the couple’s children – Dr. Calvin White of Ada, Okla., and Lyda Sue Winegardner of Raymond – attended the dedication.
“It’s a beautiful building,” Calvin White said. “A lot better than they had before.”
The college also dedicated the Dr. Thomas J. and Patricia Malone Honors Institute Library in recognition of the Malones’ generous support of the college and the institute.
“You can accomplish anything in life if you don’t care who gets the credit,” Malone said. “There is no saturation of education.”
He and his wife met when both attended Pearl River in the late 1950s. A native of Hattiesburg, he is retired as the senior executive vice chairman of Milliken and Co. The couple lives in LaGrange, Ga.
“Any time the phone rings or there’s an email, we get in the car and come to Poplarville,” he said. “That’s where all the guides for our life were set.”
Also honored Saturday were two football players – Rusty Clark of Saucier, recipient of the Dobie Holden Memorial Football Scholarship, and Carter Hankins of Purvis, recipient of the Keith Daniels Memorial Scholarship.