Pearl River Community College honored six outstanding alumni Thursday, April 18, with induction into the PRCC Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame.
Recognized for their accomplishments were L.D. Brinkman of Kerrville, Texas; Verlene Norton Cole of Oak Grove, George Dale of Clinton, Floyd Furr of Picayune, Mickey Hudson of Ellisville and Louis A. Hurst Jr. of Houston.
“This is a really, really special class,” said Dr. William Lewis, PRCC president. “When you hear about some of the things they’ve done, it’s amazing that they passed through Pearl River Community College.”
The alumni were honored with a reception and dinner at Southern Oaks House and Gardens in Hattiesburg.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think an old country girl from Oak Grove would receive such an award,” Cole said.
Cole, the first female officer of what is now Bancorp South, received the college’s Citizenship Award when she graduated in 1951 and since her retirement in 1989 has been active in the PRCC Alumni Association, Development Foundation and Wildcat Club.
Hudson, chief executive officer of Hudson’s Inc., was a Pearl River student in the early 1960s.
“I did have a great experience at Pearl River a long time ago,” he said. “Pearl River has been good to me. It’s great to be a Wildcat.”
A retired petroleum geologist, Furr counts four major decisions that led to his successful professional and personal life.
“The first was when I decided to go to Pearl River Junior College,” he said. “After that, all the other decisions fell into place. I want to thank Pearl River college for putting me on the right road.”
Dale, who served 32 years as Mississippi’s elected insurance commissioner, was Baptist Student Union president and played on one of Pearl River’s 13 state championship basketball teams.
“During the 51 years of my professional career, I’ve received a number of awards,” he said. “I have to say being a member of the ‘59-‘60 state championship basketball team has got to top them all.”
But his time at the college provided more than a sports thrill, he said.
“In 1958-1960 when I was a Pearl River College ... we all knew that two years at junior college would give us a better opportunity in this world,” he said.
A Poplarville native, Hurst attended college at Pearl River for one year before serving in the Navy during World War II. H retired from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1982 as assistant director of the four-state Memphis region.
“I have many fond memories of Pearl River College and what I was taught there has served me very well in countless ways,” he said.
An entrepreneur, cattle rancher and collector of western art, Brinkman came to Pearl River as manager of the football team under the late coach Dobie Holden. He credits Holden with teaching him to do things right the first time, a foundation of his success.
“The Mississippi community college organization is the best organization in the state,” he said. “They don’t get credit for it. They didn’t get credit 60 years ago. Just think of all the kids who wouldn’t go to college without it.”
As part of a continuing partnership between the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame and PRCC’s Honors Institute, students videotaped conversations with each of the honorees, asking them for advice.
“The folks that we induct tonight are setting the stage for these students,” Lewis said.