William  Carey  College



Alumni Luncheon

January 24, 2004


Remarks by

Barbara Hamilton

Executive Assistant to the President and Grant Writer

William Carey College



In 1906, a private, co-educational institution was founded on these grounds: South Mississippi College. A fire soon destroyed much of the campus, and the young institution was forced to close.


In 1911 W. S. F. Tatum, a wealthy lumberman and Methodist layman, acquired the property and offered it as a gift to Baptists. The Mississippi Baptist Convention accepted ownership of the debt free college, Mississippi Woman’s College. From 1912 to 1940 the college grew and gained recognition for its academic program and missions emphasis.


Because of the depression, in 1940 the college closed and its facilities were used for army officers’ housing for nearby Camp Shelby.


After the end of WWII,  Mississippi Woman’s College re-opened in 1946 and underwent major renovations under President I.E. Rouse. In 1953 the Mississippi Baptist Convention voted to change the status to coeducational after more than four decades of educating female students. The change brought with it a new name, William Carey, the “Father of Modern Missions,” as an indication of the dreams of faithful trustees and supporters who envisioned an expanded influence for the college. The missionary’s challenging words became the college motto:


Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”


Dr. Ralph Noonkester served as distinguished president for over three decades, followed by Dr. James Edwards. Dr. Larry Kennedy became president in 1998.Some of the dramatic developments of the Kennedy era will be presented to us later in the program by the President. Many exciting changes are underway on the three campuses of the College.


But the history of the College is more than mere facts, and this wonderful school, which will celebrate its Centennial in 2006, is at its high point because of hard work, steadfast purpose, personal sacrifice, loyal friends, committed faculty, dedicated students, and the watch-care of a loving God.


The last graduating class of Mississippi Woman’s College was in 1954. Members of that class are listed in the program. At least one is here today. Please stand Lorene Edwards Brittain.


And then…it was the fall of 1954 and this beautiful, serene old campus would never be the same! The streets were paved, Lawrence Hall was constructed as a men’s dormitory, a student center opened, the record enrollment was over 300, additional faculty and staff were hired. But the most dramatic change was this:  Men arrived! A few males had been enrolled through the years, but these men were different and they brought with them great excitement as well as challenges.


President Rouse had decided that a good way to speed the College along in the change to being co-ed was to recruit ministerial students and to establish an aggressive athletic program. Les Devall was the new head coach with Glenn Daughtrey as assistant coach. The sports teams were named “Crusaders for Christ,” later shortened to “Crusaders.”  Some of the athletes wanted the name “Stone Ponies.”


The years 1954-1956 saw two remarkable and victorious football seasons- and without dressing rooms, or practice field, or playing field, the Crusaders defeated Millsaps, Louisiana College, and many other teams in the two-year span of football at Carey, losing only two games. There was a marching band, homecoming courts, parades in downtown Hattiesburg, cheerleaders, and football queens and sweethearts.


In 1955 John O’Keefe became the basketball coach. Baseball, track, and golf were other important sports of the time.


Some of these athletes brought tobacco and bare feet with them, as well as language not often heard among the genteel female student body. They were prayed for, witnessed to, sometimes shunned-at first. But the year rolled on, a spirit-filled student revival drew many “wayward” men into the fold, and remarkable changes happened in lives. Many athletes were called to Christian service, dated and married classmates, and went out to make a positive difference in the world as female graduates had done since 1906.


Male students in music, ministry, education, and other areas served along side of females in all areas of leadership and activities. And those who were a part of those transitional years hold dear the memories of those days and the glory that was theirs.


Coach Les Devall and his wife June celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last fall. They send their best wishes from their home in Lake Charles to their “boys” and other Carey friends.


Now, let’s recognize some of those from 1954, students here 50 years ago, the first year Carey was a co-educational institution. 


If you participated in any of these activities in this historic year stand as I call your activity and remain standing.


Many will be standing together before we applaud, indicating the unity of spirit of that special student body.


Please hold your applause until we recognize others also.


Here are the original Crusader athletes of 1954-55: (Stand)








Stand if you were a cheerleader, on the homecoming court, or in the band during this memorable year.


Though one of the most drastic changes was the sports program, many other individuals played significant roles on campus in 1954-55.


Please stand and remain standing along with those already standing. 

It was a very different world in 1954-55!


All others who were students at William Carey College during the transitional year 1954-55, please stand.


Join me in expressing appreciation to these pioneer students who walked these grounds 50 years ago.


In his yearbook message to Carey students, President Rouse wrote these words:


Clear conception and bold execution are two requirements of great achievement: when matched with endurance and an imagination on fire with creative impulse, there is no known limit to what might be accomplished.”


Thank you, Class of 1954-55, for accepting Dr. Rouse’s challenge and accomplishing much to honor your alma mater and our God.


Thank you for your contributions to the College during your student years, and your continuing commitment to our worthy mission today and to our attempts for great things for tomorrow.



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Created:    January 24, 2004                    Updated:    April 18, 2005