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The Columns: Alumni Reviews


Alumni and friends board “M Train” for awards gala

The University of Memphis Alumni Association awarded its highest honor in February to a popular restaurateur, a pair of magazine editors, the president of a Fortune 500 company and a noted community developer. Walter Leavy, Lynn Norment, Bill Rhodes and the late Thomas Boggs were honored with the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award; Henry Turley was recognized as the Distinguished Friend of the University. The awards were presented at a gala at Central Station in downtown Memphis.

Thomas Boggs
Thomas Boggs
Boggs (BA ’72) was CEO, president and managing partner of the popular Huey’s chain of restaurants. Born in Wynne, Ark., Boggs played drums with regional bands and was recruited to play with the popular ‘60s band the Box Tops. Later he returned to the U of M to finish his degree in history. After working for T.G.I. Friday’s, he joined Huey’s, moving from bartending into management. Boggs used his considerable corporate experience to transform Huey’s from a bar into a successful restaurant.

He was active in the community, serving as vice president of the 2001 Memphis in May International Festival and co-chair of the Blues Ball. Boggs served on many boards promoting tourism and the hospitality industry, including eight years as president of the Memphis Restaurant Association. He received the association’s highest award, the Newt Hardin Award, as well as its Civic and Community Leadership Award. Boggs also received the Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service in recognition of outstanding community and public service. The U of M’s College of Arts and Sciences honored Boggs with its Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2002. He also established the Huey’s Corporation Scholarship at the U of M in 2004. He was a lifetime member of the Alumni Association.

Walter Leavy
Walter Leavy
Leavy (BA ’75) was co-managing editor of Ebony magazine, the nation’s largest magazine aimed at an African-American audience. He had been at Ebony since 1980, steadily moving up through the organization. When longtime executive editor Lerone Bennett Jr. retired in 2005, Leavy and fellow U of M alumna and past Ebony staff member Lynn Norment were promoted to run the day-to-day operations of the magazine, which is affiliated with Jet magazine.

Leavy received a BA in journalism from the University in 1975. He was honored with the 2008 Journalism Alumni Chapter’s Outstanding Journalism Alumnus Award, and is an annual member of the Alumni Association.

Lynn Norment
Lynn Norment
Norment (BA ‘73) grew up in Bolivar, Tenn., one of six daughters, five of whom attended the U of M. It was clear from the beginning of her career that she was destined to be a journalistic success: on her first day as a reporter for The Commercial Appeal, she was dispatched to cover a shooting in south Memphis just before the end of her shift. She combed the area, knocking on doors to get information. To Norment’s surprise, her contribution to the story resulted in her first byline. She worked for the newspaper from 1973-77. During a trip to Chicago, she stopped by the Ebony offices to ask about freelance writing opportunities. She was given an assignment to interview a college basketball player, then another story, this time on legendary gospel and soul singer Al Green. As soon as the editors read the story, they offered Norment a job.

In 1991, Norment received the Journalism Alumni Chapter’s Outstanding Journalism Alumna Award. She is an annual member of the Alumni Association.

Rhodes (MBA ’88) is president and CEO of AutoZone Inc., the country’s largest auto parts retailer. He was named CEO in 2005 after serving in a variety of executive roles. Most recently, Rhodes was executive vice president overseeing store and commercial operations. Prior to that, he served in several positions with AutoZone, including senior vice president of supply chain and information technology, divisional vice president of stores, and senior vice president of finance.

Bill Rhodes
Bill Rhodes

Rhodes, who joined AutoZone in 1994, began his career at the accounting firm Ernst & Young, serving in various capacities from 1988-94. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Tennessee at Martin and his MBA from the U of M in 1988. Rhodes was a 2006 recipient of the Fogelman College of Business & Economics Alumni Chapter’s Outstanding Alumnus Award, and is an annual member of the Alumni Association.

Henry Turley
Henry Turley
Turley is president of Henry Turley Co., a real estate development firm focusing on community development and urban redevelopment. Among his projects are the Shrine Building and the Cotton Exchange Building.

In 2006, he established the Henry Turley Fellowship to promote high-quality redevelopment in the areas surrounding the U of M and to assist the University with its goal of public policy research based on engaged scholarship and its strengthening community initiative.


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