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Winters honored by Ole Miss Women's Council

Photo by Jon Haywood
Jon Haywood | The Daily Mississippian

Former Mississippi Governor William Winter and his wife Elise Varner Winter received the Legacy Award from the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy on Saturday. 

“It’s one of highest awards we’ve ever had,” Winter said. “To come here to our alma mater and receive this recognition obviously has special meaning for us.”

The Legacy Award, which was presented in the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics and by Chancellor Dan Jones, recognizes the contributions of those who have embodied the council’s goals of philanthropy, leadership and mentorship. 

The Winters are the first dual recipients of the Legacy Award since it was created in 2010. Last year, the Women’s Council presented the award to Olivia Williams Manning.

Elise Winter said she and Gov. Winter would “treasure” the award.

Ward Toler, Oxford market manager for C Spire Wireless, said the Winters displayed fairness, honesty, loyalty and diligence during their time in office.

“I know both Governor and Mrs. Winter are both extremely humbled, and I  can imagine (they) may both shy away from this honor given to them, but at least for today, enjoy being on a pedestal, because you have certainly earned it,” Toler said.

Rose Jackson Flenorl, past president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association and member of the Women’s Council, gave a tribute to the Winters and reflected about a conference where Elise Winter spoke.

“I was inspired by your challenge to us,” she said. 

“I remember thinking, ‘When I grow up, I want to be just like you.’”

Flenorl said Elise is a star in her own right.

“I think Gov. Winter and Elise Winter are amazing recipients,” she said. 

“When you think about people who give back to their community, mentor other people, and are fearless and courageous, you can’t think of any other people (to give the award to).”

World War II veteran William Winter graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in 1943 and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at Ole Miss is named for him. 

Elise is a Habitat for Humanity-Metro Jackson founder, serving more than 1,000 families.