The Delta State University National alumni Association recently announced the annual Alumni Service Awards recipients. Each year, the associsation presents four service awards: the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Service Award; the Kent Wyatt Young Alumnus Service Award; the Gladys Castles Friend of Delta State Award; and the Legacy Award.
The Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Service Award was established to recognize outstanding service and contributions to Delta State University by an alumnus. This year’s recipient is Patrick Davis graduate of 1996.
A native of the Mississippi Delta, Davis was born in Cleveland and raised in nearby Greenville. He graduated from O’Bannon High School and went on to receive his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Delta State University. He is licensed in several areas involving property and casualty insurance, financial services, and holds various professional designations in claims and service.
Davis joined the State Farm Insurance family 19 years ago and has served in various capacities in several cities in Mississippi and Alabama. Prior to opening his agency in Cleveland, he served as an auto operations team manager in Birmingham, Ala. There, he partnered with seven other managers and was responsible for the selection, training, development, and performance management of employees who directly impacted underwriting decisions and processes in the state.
His most cherished roles are those of husband and father. Davis and his wife, Tomeka, also a graduate of Delta State in 1995, are the proud parents of 22-year-old Courtney, and 14-year-old Patrick Jr.
The Kent Wyatt Young Alumnus Service Award is given each year to an alumnus who is 36 or younger and has given outstanding service and contributions to Delta State. This year’s recipient is Will Bradham.
Bradham, the son of Joann Kersh and the late Jimmie Moore “Red” Bradham, grew up in Clarksdale. He has a sister, Celia St. Columbia, and one brother, Jim Bradham. Will attended Lee Academy before pursuing his degree in marketing from Deltas State. He is a 2001 graduate of the institution.
He participated in many activities on campus, including the president of the Catholic Student Association, president of the College Young Republicans, Student Senate, Student Alumni Association, president of the IFC and the KAPPA ALPHA ORDER, where he held the positions of scholarship, intramural and rush chair, and vice president and president.
Bradham began his career with Sysco food services in 2002, where he worked for 10 years. In 2012, he started a non-medical home health company called Right at Home, and then opened Maid to Order Housekeeping services, both located in Clarksdale. He also recently started Bradham Rental Properties in Cleveland. He is currently with Farm Bureau Insurance of Bolivar County as an agent.
He is active in his church, Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church in Cleveland, where he is a past-president of the Pastoral Council. He was honored as Knight of Year in 2008 by the Knights of Columbus, and he is a former Grand Knight of the Bolivar County Knights of Columbus from 2008-2010.
In 2011 and 2013, he was named Top 40 Under 40 by the Cleveland Current, and in 2012, Delta Business Journal named him one of the Top 20 volunteers of the Mississippi Delta. He served as a board member for the Cleveland Country Club from 2008-2011 and as the Patio Division chairman for Octoberfest from 2006-2014.
Today, Bradham remains active with his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Order. He has been a chapter advisor for the Delta Beta Chapter at Delta State since 2008. He was named to the Kappa Alpha Order Irwin Province Court of Honor in 2008 and has served as Deputy Province Commander since 2008. He currently serves as the Delta State University Bolivar County Alumni Chapter President.
He married his wife Lisa Sudduth ‘03, who is a nurse practitioner, in December of 2006. They have two children, Wilkes (4) and Anna Reese (1), and they reside in Merigold.
The Gladys Castle Friend of Delta State Service Award is presented to a non-alumnus who has made outstanding service and contributions to Delta State. This year’s group nomination goes to the Left Field Crew.
The Left Field Crew is comprised of a group of Delta State supporters. It started as a group of fans that set up behind left field at home baseball games, cooked out and cheered on the Statesmen Baseball team.
The crew does much more than just cheer on the Statesmen. They are involved in every facet of Delta State athletics, and they now have a presence at almost every Delta State sporting event. They also participate in various community and university events, such as the Delta State Trunk-or-Treat. The group also volunteers their time to cook barbecue for the university’s signature Pig Pickin’ event.
The Legacy Award was established to honor an alumnus who made an institutional impact on the university. This year’s recipient is May Ellen Leftwich.
Mary Ellen Leftwich, of Gunnison, is a 1939 graduate of Delta State Teachers College. She first came to Delta State in 1934 when she and her sister roomed together in Ward Hall as work-study students. She worked for Mrs. Doolittle in the Hill School Library. As an education major, she also did her student teaching in the Hill Demonstration School her last year at Delta State. While at Delta State, she was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, which was a teacher’s sorority.
After graduating from the university, Leftwich taught first grade in Houlka, before moving to Drew to teach at the Wade School for two years. She then moved to Benoit, where she taught for five years. It was in Benoit that she met her husband, Eugene Porter Leftwich Jr. They were married in 1943 in New York City before he went off to serve his country in the U.S. Army.
In 1949, she and her husband bought her uncle’s grocery store in Gunnison, the Leftwich Grocery, which they ran together. She returned to teaching in 1957 when both her children were in school. She taught sixth grade in Rosedale until retiring in 1977 after 29 years in education.
Leftwich and her late husband have two children, Ellen and Porter, three grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. She is a member of the Daughters of American Revolution and a member of Gunnison United Methodist Church.
In 2011, the Mary Ellen Arnold Leftwich Endowed Scholarship was established for elementary education students at Delta State. Leftwich lives in Gunnison where she still plays in a bridge club and loves to get out and ride around and return to Delta State gatherings. She is also a big sports fan and routinely stays up late watching the Atlanta Braves and college football. Since her graduation from Delta State 75 years ago, she has only missed returning to campus for Homecoming once.
The award recipients will be honored during Homecoming on Nov. 14 at the Alumni Awards Gala at 7 p.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center. Tickets for the event are $20 and can be purchased at the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni House or online at www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/homecoming2014.
For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660. To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (http://www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).