U of M Alumni and Friends Will “Take the M Train” to Awards Gala Feb. 20 University News
For release: January 26, 2009

For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843

Take the M Train
The University of Memphis Alumni Association will “Take the M Train” as it awards its highest honors on Friday, February 20, 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 will be honored with the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award; Henry Turley will be recognized as Distinguished Friend of the University.

The gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Central Station, located on South Main at G.E. Patterson in downtown Memphis.  Reservations may be made with Chelsea Dubey by phone at 901-678-1562 or via email at ctdubey@memphis.edu

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 operation.

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 & Sciences Alumni Chapter honored Boggs with its Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2002. He also established the Huey’s Corporation Scholarship at the U of M in 2004 and donated food and staffing to the Alumni Association’s Homecoming celebration.

Walter Leavy
Walter Leavy
Leavy, who received a BA degree in journalism from the University in 1975, is co-managing editor of Ebony magazine, the nation’s largest magazine aimed at an African-American audience. He has been at Ebony since 1980, steadily moving up through the organization to his current position. When longtime executive editor Lerone Bennett Jr. retired in 2005, Leavy and fellow U of M alumna and Ebony staff member Lynn Norment were promoted to run the day-to-day operations of the magazine, which is affiliated with Jet magazine. He also writes a column for the publication, “For Brothers Only,” which he has describes as “an avenue of expression for things that are uniquely male. It highlights the hopes and dreams of black men.”

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, and 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 to 1977.

During a trip to Chicago, Norment 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 about legendary gospel and soul singer Al Green.  As soon as the editors read Norment’s work, they offered her a job.

At Ebony, she has interviewed the famous and the not-so-famous, including some of the biggest names in the entertainment world, such as Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Beyonce.

Bill Rhodes
Bill Rhodes

Rhodes is chairman, 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 AutoZone as senior vice president of supply chain and information technology, divisional vice president of stores, and senior vice president of finance.

Rhodes began his career at the accounting firm Ernst & Young, serving in various capacities from 1988 to 1994, when he joined AutoZone. 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.

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. The company pioneered New Urbanism with the development of South Bluffs and Harbor Town and is helping to transform the Uptown neighborhood in downtown Memphis, which includes 1,000 new homes and apartments, public parks, and other amenities.

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. Turley also is a member of the U of M Board of Visitors.

For more information about the event, visit the Web site www.memphis.edu/alumni

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