Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Bonnie Brown: Q&A with David Elmore, Director Emeritus of the Union

*Editor’s Note: The latest installment in the Ole Miss Retirees features is David Elmore, Director Emeritus of the Ole Miss Student Union. The organization’s mission is to enable all of the university’s faculty and staff retirees to maintain and promote a close association with the university. It is the goal of the Ole Miss Faculty/Staff Retirees Association to maintain communication by providing opportunities to attend and participate in events and presentations.

David Elmore. All photos provided.

David Elmore, Director Emeritus of the Ole Miss Student Union, has a great sense of humor. His self-deprecating humor is his attempt to disguise his intellect. David took pride in working with students, faculty, staff, and alumni in his role at Ole Miss. Always ready to help, David would go out of his way to get things done the right way. And as you read this, you will quickly pick up on the fact that he loves golf.

Brown: Where did you grow up?

Elmore: I moved to Oxford in 1960 and have lived here ever since except for a two-year hiatus to attend another school.

Brown: What is special about the place you grew up?

Elmore: A typical small American town safe and secure surrounded by family, friends and community. Oxford was located in a county full of places to hunt, fish and then there was the University of Mississippi with all of its activities.

Brown: Please talk about your childhood, your parents, siblings and any crazy aunts and uncles.

Elmore: I grew up as a Navy dependent. I was born in Virginia, lived in Key West till I was 3, then moved to San Diego for eight years before moving to Oxford. My father, Joseph David Elmore, was transferred to the Navy ROTC program at Ole Miss till he retired in 1963. My parents were from the Tacoma, Washington area and met while serving in the Navy during WW II.

Along with my younger sisters we attended the Oxford City School System. My sister, Martha Lee Ellis, is an RN in Demopolis, Alabama. Younger sister, Sharon Gwen Sowada lives in West Friendship, Maryland and is a Special Education Teacher.

I enjoyed going to a small high school—110 in my graduating class—with all the sports and extracurricular activities which drew all the students to participate.

Brown: Where did you go to school?

Elmore: I attended the University of Chattanooga for two years then transferred to Ole Miss to earn my BBA in Business Administration degree in 1972. I returned to school and acquired a MA in Recreation Administration in 1976.

Brown: What were you really into when you were a kid?

Elmore: I enjoyed playing any sport which had a ball, fishing, and Boy Scouts. I enjoyed camping out with friends as well as camping alone at various locations along rivers and Sardis Lake and eating what I caught.

Brown: What was your first job?

Elmore: I was a delivery boy for the Memphis Press-Scimitar, an afternoon paper, at age 12 but my first real job was working at a local place called Dee’s. It was a fast-food little restaurant on University Avenue where Taco Bell is located today and it was one of two hangouts in Oxford for teenagers. We gathered there and shared our wise words on world views with anyone who would listen. An added bonus was that the food was pretty good, especially the Dee’s burgers. And the best part, I was paid the magnificent wage of 50 cents an hour!

Brown: What were your responsibilities?

Elmore: To take customers’ orders, collect the cost of the meal, ensure customer satisfaction, and clean up after closing. I washed and mopped the floors and cleaned the restrooms.

Brown: Tell us how/when your Ole Miss “story” began.

Elmore: I attended my first Ole Miss football game in 1960 when Allen Green kicked a field goal to tie the game, which was the only blemish on the Rebels’ schedule that year.

Brown: Who hired you?

Elmore: Bob Towery who was the Director of the Ole Miss Union gave me the opportunity to work for the University of Mississippi, its students, staff, and faculty when he hired me to be a Program Coordinator.

Brown: Talk about the interview process.

Junie Hovious, Photo courtesy
of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Elmore: I met with Bob and Junie Hovious, the Assistant Director of the Union, and we drank coffee and discussed my qualifications for providing various activities for students via the Union Programming Council. We also issued and maintained camping equipment, tents, sleeping bags and other items as well as climbing ropes and gear.

Brown: How long did you work at Ole Miss?

Elmore: From August of 1976 to June of 1999

Brown: What did you know about Ole Miss before you accepted a position here?

Elmore: I grew up in Oxford and had graduated from Ole Miss.

Brown: Who influenced you in your early life?

Elmore: My parents but my mother perhaps more, as my father would be away at sea for up to 6 months at a time so she was the one who played catch, disciplined, and organized the home life.

Brown: How and when did you decide about your career choice?

Elmore: I thought that the business world would be the career until I discovered I enjoyed working with others in recreational activities. I have always enjoyed the company of others and decided that was my course.

Brown: What were your “best” and “worst” days at work and why?

Elmore: Working with students in all aspects of life gave me the most enjoyment. Interacting with young people in recreational activities, counseling, sharing knowledge with Graduate Assistants are all so satisfying. Yet the friendships I made with staff and faculty members were an extremely important part of my pride and enjoyment of working at Ole Miss. Family—true family.

Worst days were invariable caused by petty behavior and actions of those who just had to behave badly! Campus clicks, politics, and arrogance are always with us but I still wish it had never showed up.

Brown: What are some of the events in your life that made you who you are?

Elmore: Learning the values and morals of life from my parents, having 2 younger sisters taught me about responsibilities, receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, being married and having children and grandchildren

Brown: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

David and Sue.

Elmore: Marrying Sue

Brown: What makes you roll your eyes every time you hear it?

Elmore: Political Correctness.

Brown: If your life were a book, what’s the name of the current chapter of your life?

Elmore: Another Round of Golf

Brown: What is the most important life lesson for someone to learn?

Elmore: You cannot do it alone. We all need our family and friends to share our thoughts and feelings. We are naturally social beings.

Brown: As a child, what did you think would be awesome about being an adult, but isn’t as awesome as you thought it would be?

Elmore: I truly thought that not going to school would be the most awesome thing about being an adult. But in reality, it just wasn’t as awesome as I imagined.

Brown: What was cool when you were young but isn’t cool now?

Elmore: Owning and driving a VW.

Brown: What do you do to get rid of stress?

Elmore: Hit golf balls

Brown: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?

Elmore: I think I’d have to say one of the biggest challenges was living with teenage daughters.

Brown: Describe your perfect day.

Elmore: Playing golf and having a hole-in-one!

Brown: What three words would your friends use to describe you?

Elmore: I think they would say, “Care about others.”

Brown: Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people.

Elmore: I enjoy reading.

Brown: Please share with us how you met your wife Sue.

Elmore: Sue and I went to the same high school but we never connected as we ran in separate circles. However, in college I saw her again and we started dating and I was smart enough to ask her to marry me and she accepted!

Brown: Talk about your children and grands.

Elmore: I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters and three wonderful grandchildren. Paige, my oldest, is married to John Davis and is a Realtor here in Oxford. Their daughter, Caroline, is my true scientist and inquisitor, who combines a beautiful spirit with a lovely face and an interest in anything and everything. Caroline enjoys school and is a very good student but she has so many interests outside of academics especially in animals.

Melissa the younger daughter is married to Corey Feathers. She is an assistant to Dr. Daniel Boyd here in Oxford. Her son Cole is a sophomore at Oxford High School and a scholarly young man who is on the debate team. He has an avid interest in American History with a special interest in WWII.

Reagan, Melissa’s daughter, is a beautiful young lady who is passionate about life and school. She is interested in math and other sciences and a very good softball pitcher and player. I honestly believe Reagan is the best athlete in the family.

Front row: Caroline Davis (granddaughter, age 9), Reagan Feathers (granddaughter, age 10), Melissa Feathers (daughter), Cole Feathers (grandson, age 14), Sue Elmore; Back Row, far right David Elmore.

Brown: What’s the best and worst thing about getting older?

Elmore: We gain more friends then we lose them.

Brown: What did you do on your last vacation?

Elmore: I went to a Civil War conference in Vicksburg with my grandson Cole and had a very interesting and enjoyable time.

Brown: What has been your routine since retirement?

Elmore: I spend time reading and researching topics of interests,

Brown: Do you have any hobbies?

Elmore: I play a lot of golf, often 4 or 5 times a week, and keep active.

Brown: What’s left on your bucket list?

Elmore: I would love to go to the Holy Land and visit Jerusalem