Champion of the Year
2018 Champion of the Year
Demaris is a 1972 graduate of Petal High School. While at Petal, she played basketball and ran track. She was named Most Valuable Player in basketball and in her senior year was named Most Athletic. She attended Pearl River Junior College.
As a 1993 graduate of Leaders for a New Century with the ADP, Demaris has proven her abilities through the following endeavors. In 1989, along with Jesse Rowell, Demaris had a vision to feed hungry children in the Petal School District. As a result, the Petal Children’s Task Force was formed. The organization began by feeding and providing Christmas for two families. Today, they serve 376 families per month which equates to approximately 1,285 people. They also serve an average of 8 homeless per month. Her work at the Task Force has contributed to the less fortunate children in the school district by providing food each month along with Christmas gifts and uniforms. A friend was quoted as stating, “She loves Petal and desires to see this city thrive as a community!”
Demaris was instrumental in helping to launch the Petal News newspaper in 1997, worked with the City of Petal to open the Petal Civic Center in 1994 and was selected to receive the Bobby Runnels Award in 1995.
Mrs. Lee served as Executive Director of the Petal Chamber of Commerce and is currently a member. She is also a member of the Heritage Club of Petal and the Rotary Club of Petal. She attends Turning Pointe Church in Petal where she serves on the Fellowship and Kid Venture teams.
Hobbies for Demaris include playing tennis, cooking, traveling and playing with her granddaughters
Demaris has been married to David Lee for 43 years and they have two sons, Anthony Lee who is married to Maggie and Brian Lee, married to Trudie. Demaris and David have five granddaughters, Caroline, 11; Carrington, 9; Ann Riley, 9; Molly, 6; and Livi, 5.
2017 Champion of the Year
D. Wayne Ross is the owner and president of the 35 year old business, Commercial Stationery Company of Hattiesburg. Wayne donates to and supports learning in all five Petal schools as well as the football, baseball, show choir, and many other extracurricular activities. He has established four scholarships in honor of Petal citizens who have contributed to the betterment of the Petal School District over the years.
He is a lifetime member, former Chairman of Deacons, Deacon Board member as well as Lay Chairman of the Prayer Ministry at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS. He is a board member of Ministerial Board of Education for Mississippi Baptists, Bethany Christian Services and Pine Belt Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Service to his community is paramount to Wayne; he is a former member of the Rotary Club of Petal and presently serves as a board member of the Petal Children’s Task Force, Petal & Hattiesburg Family YMCA, and a supporter of the Petal Touchdown Club, Petal Education Foundation, and the Center for Families & Children as well as Petal’s Excel By 5.
Recently, Wayne received the “Shoe Leather Award” from William Carey University and the “Tom Landry Award” from the Pine Belt Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Wayne created “The Emergency Scholarship Fund” at William Carey University. The University of Southern Mississippi IMG Sports Network is also among the institutions that benefit from his kindness and his company’s contributions.
Wayne is married to Melinda and they have two children, Daniel Ross and Ashley Shows, and three grandchildren, Ross, Anderson, and Tripp.
2016 Champion of the Year
Ted and Charlene Cannon
Ted and Charlene Cannon have been Panther fans since 1979. Originally from Taylorsville, MS, they moved to Petal from Picayune, MS with the career change for Ted of becoming a State Farm Insurance Agent. Charlene taught for 17 years at Petal Middle School and was director of the Career and Technical Education department and assistant principal for six years at Petal High School.
As a resident and business owner, Ted has supported both the community and school district of Petal in various ways. Through the years he has been a sponsor of youth and school district sports teams and extra-curricular organizations including baseball, soccer, softball, flag football, basketball as well as the band, show choir, cheerleaders, Petal’s Distinguished Young Woman Program, and the Career and Technical Education department of PHS.
Ted is a member of the Petal Chamber of Commerce, former board member of the Petal Education Foundation, and currently serves on the William Carey University Board of Trustees. He is also a long time member of the infamous “chain gang,”
Charlene has also served Petal and the Petal School System in numerous ways. She is a former Lebonte Club member where she served for over 20 years and served twice as Petal’s Jr. Miss Program director. She is a past member of the Rotary Club and sponsored the Interact Club at PHS.
Currently, Charlene is a member of the Cosmopolitan Club of Petal. She volunteers through that organization for fundraising and community projects including Relay for Life, the Petal Education Foundation, the Nadine Coleman Center for Families and Children, supporter of the arts, provision for relief organizations which assisted Petal citizens after Hurricane Katrina and the tornado this past January.
Both Ted and Charlene are active members of Petal Harvey Baptist Church and have served on numerous committees. Ted serves as a deacon and teaches a men’s Bible study class. Charlene sings in the Celebration Choir, teaches Sunday School and is on the “adopt a school” committee for Petal Middle School.
The Cannons are very proud of their two sons and their families. Joining them on the field tonight is their older son, Trey, his wife Karla, and their two daughters, Mabry and Dorothy. Their youngest son, Neal and his wife, Julienne, live in Hernando, MS. They have a daughter, Loralee, and a son, Colton.
2015 Champion of the Year
Cosmopolitan Club of Petal
The Cosmopolitan Club of Petal has been a supporter of the Petal School District for many years dating back to the East Forrest County School days. Present day members as well as numerous former members have volunteered time and money to the betterment of the schools, the district and the community.
In 2014 alone, members of the Cosmopolitan Club of Petal cumulatively logged over 3,500 volunteer hours, raised and donated over $10,000 and donated over $4,000.00 of in-kind funds to local, state and national projects.
Petal School District students and programs have been the benefactor of many of these focused projects. Some activities are as follows:
The club awards 2 scholarships--The Odis B. Clinton Fine Arts Scholarship and the Herbert Ray Nobles Leadership Scholarship, each totaling $400.00, Sponsor of the annual Superintendent’s Prayer Breakfast for the past 15 years, Sponsor for the HOBY program, Volunteer for the PSD Children’s Health Fair, 18 years, Sponsor and assist the Annual PSD Art Show and a Student Creative Writing Contest, Assist the Petal Show Choir, Members serve on the Excel By 5 Coalition and support other Excel By 5 events, Support the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Members serve as Big Sisters in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program, Members volunteer, donate, and participate for Homes for Hope, Extra Table, Habitat for Humanity, and Ellisville State School, Contribute to the Mississippi School for the Deaf and Mississippi School for the Blind, Participate in the Adopt-A-Highway program and Petal’s Beautification landscaping projects.2014 Champions of the YearJames and Kay FairleyJames is a 1960 Petal High School graduate. While in high school he was a member of the PHS basketball and baseball team. He also served as manager of the PHS football team. Mr. Fairley attended Pearl River Junior College. James served in the Mississippi National Guard and retired after 39 years of service. During that time he worked at Camp Shelby and retired after 33 years.
James has served his community as an Optimist Club member for 20 years, Dixie Youth and Dixie Boys baseball coach for 15 years, helped organize and worked the community pantry during Hurricane Katrina and served on the Board of Directors at Twin Pines Golf Club.
His school district volunteer work consist of serving as a Petal High Booster Club member for 44 years and former President, Touchdown Club member, Dugout Club member and a volunteer on the Petal High “Chain Gang” for 48 years as well as volunteer for the Petal athletic department.
Kay Anderson Fairley graduated from Petal High School in 1962. She was a member of the PHS basketball team 9th-12th grades and was All Desota Conference her senior year. Kay was a member of the PHS Track team and was state winner on relay teams in 1962. She served as a cheerleader, president of the Y-Teen Club and was a member of the paper staff. She attended the University of Southern Mississippi. Kay is retired from CenterPoint Energy Company after 31 years of service.
Kay and James are members of Petal Harvey Baptist Church where both have been members of the mission trip team, Samaritan’s Purse, and an Operation Christmas Child volunteer. James serves as a deacon presently and has for the past 30 years. Kay serves as a Sunday school teacher, Bible Drill Coach and Judge, and works with the youth department.
Kay is a former City of Petal Alderman, member of the Chamber of Commerce, Relay for Life team member, and Cosmopolitan Club member. Currently, she serves on the City Election Council, Council for Christian Women’s Job Corp, and volunteers for Homes of Hope. Other Petal School District service consists of Middle School volunteer and Center for Family and Children volunteer. She has been a staunch supporter of Petal athletics, cheerleaders, and show choir.
James and Kay are the proud parents of two children; Kristi Fairley Buckley, a 1984 PHS graduate, and Jay Fairley, a 1986 PHS graduate. Kristi is married to Steve Buckley, former Head Football coach at Petal High School. They have two children, Slade, PHS class of 2013 and Annaleigh, a PHS sophomore. Jay is married to Kristie Godwin Fairley, 1991 PHS graduate. They have one daughter, Anne Makay, a kindergartener at Petal Primary School.2013 Champion of the YearMarcus WareMarcus Ware is retired from South Mississippi Electric Power Association. He has served as Assistant to the General Manager in Hattiesburg. Mr. Ware is a native of Walnut Grove, Mississippi, and holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Mississippi State University.
2012 Alumnus of the YearJimmy JonesThe Petal Education Foundation is proud to announce Mr. Jimmy Jones as the 2012 Alumnus of the Year. Mr. Jones is a 1955 graduate of Petal High School where he played football, basketball and played on the first baseball team at PHS. After graduation he served in the United States Army from 1955-1958 and was then employed by Mobil Oil for 39 years until retirement. While at Petal High School he was chosen Mr. PHS, “Most Likeable”, Desoto All Conference Football and Basketball, Captain of the Football Team , Best Sportsman, and Football King. Jimmy is an active member and Lifetime Deacon at Petal-Harvey Baptist Church. He served as a volunteer coach for the Petal Optimist Club from 1967-1978 and currently volunteers in the Petal School District and is a member of the Petal Touchdown Club. Mr. Jones is married to Elaine Clark Jones of Petal for 55 years. His family includes Ronnie Jones & his wife Jenny of Las Vegas, Nevada and Karla Jones Hogan and her husband Michael of Petal, Ms. Jimmy and Elaine have 5 grandchildren: Jermey and Jeffree Jones and Mallory, Kennedy, and Maggie Hogan.2011 Alumnus of the YearConnie Bufkin DrakeMrs. Connie Bufkin Drake was elected the 2011 Petal School District Alumnus of the Year. Connie is a 1970 graduate of Petal High School. Her teaching career began in the Petal School District in 1975 and continues where she teaches Accounting I and II and Personal Finance. During Ms. Drake’s tenure at Petal High School she has served hundreds of students as teacher, cheerleader and beauty pageant sponsor, paper staff advisor, homecoming committee co-chair, and senior field day chair. Her professional activities include serving as the business department chair, a member of the teacher advisory, and Shared Decision Making Committees. Connie was selected as Petal High School Teacher of the Year in 2009. After regular school hours, Ms. Drake serves the people of Petal by teaching at the GED program through Pearl River Community College. She works with students who have encountered obstacles in their life, which have caused them not to graduate from high school. Connie also assists at the Alternative School with employability skills instruction as well as monitor students community service projects. Connie is the proud mother and mother-in-law of Gina and Chad Boyd, Leslie and Lloyd Thomas and Garrett and Britnie Drake. She has two grandchildren, Isabelle Boyd and Dax Drake.2010 Alumnus of the YearAllen FlyntMr. Allen Flynt is a 1970 graduate of Petal High School. Allen is an active member and past president of Rotary Club of Petal and is a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary International. He has served as Past President, board member and is an active member of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce, board member of the Area Development Partnership, founding member of the Petal Area Economic Development Council, and associate board member of Bancorp South, Petal, MS. In 1997 Allen received the Bobby Runnels Leadership Award given by the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce and was chosen as Volunteer of the Year for the Mississippi Economic Development Council. Petal School District has enjoyed Allen’s volunteer work as he has served as a past member of the Vocational Technology Committee, Polymer Science Curriculum Committee, PHS Band Boosters, and is an active member of the Petal Touchdown Club. Mr. Flynt is a board member for the Veteran’s Memorial Walk of Honor, Co-chair for the Pine Burr Boy Scouts, and is currently serving as Vice President and board member for Sunrise Utility Board.2009 Alumnus of the YearTommy Fairley
- Served on PSD Board of Trustees: 1989-2004 (Past President)
- Member of Petal Rotary Club (Member for 36 years / Past President)
- Member of Area Development Partnership (Participated in Leaders for a New Century Program – Class of 1991)
- Registered Professional Engineer
- Member of Southeast Area Chapter of the Mississippi Engineering Society (Past President / Chapter Engineer of the Year in 1980 & 2003/ State Engineer of the Year in 2007)
- Attends Petal Harvey Baptist Church
- Former Member of Petal YMCA Board
- Former Member of Engineering Advisory Board at USM
- Recipient of Petal Chamber of Commerce Bobby Runnels Leadership Award – 2003
- Marcus Ware Training Center Constructed and Dedicated: 2008
- Member of the Panther Touchdown Club
- Marcus is married to Patricia (Pat) Welford Ware. They have two children Adina Ware Breckenridge and Paul, and Matthew Ware and Renee, four grandchildren, Reid and Jayne Anne Breckenridge and Connor and Jack Ware.
The Petal School District's 2009 Alumnus of the YEar is Mr. Tommy Fairley. Tommy is a 1966 graduate of Petal High School. As a volunteer he has given his time as past secretary of the Petal Optimist Club, served on the Pine Burr Boy Scout Executive Board, is a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Petal, co-chaired fundraisers for the construction of the Petal YMCA and served as board member, co-chaired the American Cancer society Jail and Bail for Petal. He is a volunteer for the American Heart Fund, United Way and has served as a past board member of the Area Development Partnership. Tommy has participated in ‘Strategic Planning’ for the Petal School District, was a founding and past board member of the Petal Education Foundation and is a member of the Petal Touchdown Club. Tommy and his wife, Dolores, reside in Petal.
2008 Alumnus of the Year
Ed Walker was selected as the Petal School District's 2008 Alumnus of the Year. Walker is a 1957 graduate of Petal High School. Petal School system employed Mr. Walker in 1961 through 1966 where he served as a teacher, football coach and principal. He served as head football coach of the Petal High School football team and in 1965, won the Desoto Conference championship and was selected 1965 Coach of the Year. He has volunteered his time as president of the Optimist club, helped in reviving the Peewee sports program in Petal, member of the Petal High Booster Club, Quarterback Club and has served as president of the Petal Touchdown Club. Ed and his wife, Falba, still reside in Petal.
2007 Alumnus of the Year
Buck Anderson received the honor as Petal School District Education Foundation Alumnus of the Year in 2007. He is a 1955 graduate of Petal High School. Although he lives in Fitzgerald, Georgia, he continues to support his alma mater by giving monetarily to the Touchdown Club and Petal Football Boosters. He visits regularly with the club in order to keep up with the progress of the team and coaches. Buck and his wife, Libby, currently reside in Fitzgerald, Georgia.2006 Alumnus of the YearHal WalkerHal Walker received the honor as Petal School District Education Foundation Alumnus of the Year in 2006. He has given 1980 graduate of Petal High School. Throughout his years in Petal, Hal has supported many groups within the school system. Hal has given countless hours to coaching youth basketball and football through the Petal Youth Sports Association. Hal and his wife, Donnie, reside in Petal.
2005 Alumnus of the Year
Milton Carpenter received the honor as Petal School District Education Foundation Alumnus of the Year in 2005. He is a 1963 graduate of Petal High School. Mr. Carpenter has been an active member of the Petal Optimist Club where he helped coach and the run Youth League Baseball Program. He has also been an active member of the Petal High School Athletic Booster Club and volunteers many hours in the concession stands at various PHS Athletic events. He implemented the “Partners in Education” program that helped generate over $500,000.00 for the Petal School District.
2004 Alumni of the Year
Junior and Carolyn BroomeCarolyn and Junior Broome received the honor as Petal School District Education Foundation Alumni of the Year in 2004. Carolyn is a 1969 graduate of Petal High School and Junior is a 1967 graduate of Petal High School. Throughout their years in Petal, they have both given their time and monetary donations to student clubs, organizations as well as all athletic teams. Carolyn has for a number of years served as a Cheerleader Sponsor at Petal High School. Junior serves as a deacon at Petal Harvey Baptist Church. They are parents of two sons who are also Petal High School alumni. Junior and Carolyn still reside in Petal.2003 Alumnus of the YearJim Smith
Jim Smith received the honor as Petal School District Education Foundation Alumnus of the Year in 2003. He is a 1967 graduate of Petal High School. Smith has been a Petal High School Booster Club member for 37 years, servings as President four times. Throughout his years in Petal, Smith has supported many groups within the school system as well as helping numerous former PHS baseball players receive college scholarships and get drafted by major league teams. Smith has served as a member of the PES P.T.A., WLS P.T.A., Petal Pee Wee Football Coach and Soccer Coach, Petal Optimist Club Baseball Coach, and Petal American Legion Baseball Coach. He has served on the board of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, Salvation Army, United Way, and Asbury United Methodist Church Board. Smith and his wife, Wanda, still reside in Petal.
2002 Alumnus of the Year
Lynn Cartlidge was the first to receive the honor as Petal School District Education Foundation Alumnus of the Year in 2002. He is a 1949 graduate of Petal High School. Mr. Cartlidge was elected as Supervisor of District Three in Forrest County in 1974 and was elected President of the Board of Supervisors in 1980. In 1975, Cartlidge served as chairman of the committee responsible for the incorporation of the City of Petal. In 1976, Petal School District was formed and Cartlidge headed the committee responsible for hiring the first superintendent of Petal Schools, Herbert Ray Nobles. Throughout his years in Petal, Cartlidge has supported many groups within the school system, including band, baseball, football, softball, choirs and numerous other programs. He serves as a deacon at Petal Harvey Baptist Church and remains active in numerous community organizations and serves as the current chairman of the Petal School District Education Foundation. Cartlidge and his wife, Earleace, still reside in Petal, Mississippi.