Famous People with Hattiesburg Ties
Singer, songwriter and author Jimmy Buffett has recorded more than 30 records, most of which have gone gold, platinum or multiplatinum. His recording, Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads, is one of the biggest selling box sets in MCA Records history and was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Buffett has written three No. 1 bestsellers and is one of only six authors in the history of the New York Times to have reached No. 1 on both its fiction and nonfiction lists. Buffett attended college at The University of Southern Mississippi, where he graduated in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in History.
Jesse LeRoy Brown
Jesse LeRoy Brown was the first African-American naval aviator in the United States Navy. Born in Hattiesburg, Brown enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1946 and was appointed a Midshipman at the Ohio State University NROTC the following year. After attending Navy pre-flight school and flight training, he was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1948. He received his commission as Ensign in April 1949. During the Korean War, on December 4, 1950, while on a close air support mission near the Chosin Reservoir, Ensign Brown's plane was hit by enemy fire and crashed. Despite heroic efforts by other aviators, he could not be rescued and died in his aircraft. Ensign Jesse L. Brown was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his Korean War combat service.
Upon his retirement after 17 years in the NFL, Brett Favre held virtually all the career passing marks in the league’s record books. Among the records held by Favre are most career touchdowns (442) and passing yards (61,655). He is the NFL’s only three-time Most Valuable Player, and in 2007 was selected as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. Favre currently resides in Hattiesburg with his wife, Deanna.
Evelyn Gandy, who died in 2007, was the first woman in Mississippi to serve as a state representative, assistant attorney general, commissioner of public welfare, state treasurer, commissioner of insurance and lieutenant governor. Her many honors included the Margaret Brent Award from the American Bar Association and the Lindy Boggs Women in Public Service Award. Evelyn Gandy was born and raised in Hattiesburg where she resided until her death.
The first pure punter ever taken in the first round of the NFL draft, Ray Guy played 14 seasons for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. He earned a selection to the Pro Bowl seven times, was a three-time leading NFL punter, and played in 22 post-season games, including three wins in Super Bowls. Guy’s talents have earned him several honors, including being a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All Time Team and being the first pure punter to be a finalist for selection to the NFL Hall of Fame. A current Hattiesburg resident, Ray Guy now works with The University of Southern Mississippi’s Athletic Department.
Movie and television actor Gary Grubbs has acted in such films as Oliver Stone’s JFK and Clint Eastwood’s Honkytonk Man. He has worked with such established stars as Kevin Costner, Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Jack Nicholson. In recent years, Grubbs has devoted much of his time to writing, has successfully sold two pilot scripts to CBS-TV and has starred in a recurring role on Will and Grace. When not filming, Gary Grubbs resides at his permanent home located in Hattiesburg.
Oseola McCarty, the humble washerwoman who became The University of Southern Mississippi’s most famous benefactor, drew global attention after it was announced in July 1995 that she would will $150,000 of her life’s savings to Southern Miss to provide scholarships for deserving students in need of financial assistance. She received scores of awards and other honors recognizing her unselfish spirit, and President Bill Clinton presented her with a Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian award, during a special White House ceremony. She also won the United Nations' coveted Avicenna Medal for educational commitment. As a child, Oseola McCarty moved to Hattiesburg where she resided until her death in 1999.
For an extensive list of famous alumni who have attended The University of Southern Mississippi, click here.
For an extensive list of past and present notable residents of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, click here.