Aug. 4, 2007
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Neal Stokes Memorial Golf Tournament, sponsored by Stokes Distributing Co., and The Brew Crew of the Timberton Golf Club, continues to benefit the USM Golf program by adding to the Golf Endowment that was created nine years ago in honor of Neal Stokes.
"It will be nine years this November since Neal passed away," Steve Wilberding said. "He was a big supporter of Southern Miss. He helped us in a lot of ways. I say us because I was at Southern Miss for 30 years."
The "Brew Crew" has been responsible for putting the tournament on for the past nine years. With this year's gift of approximately $5,000, the Neal Stokes Golf Endowment has gone over the $30,000 level.
"We appreciate the long-time involvement of the Stokes Distributing Company, especially Steve (Wilberding) and Sparky (Walker), and their assistance with our golf program," Southern Miss Director of Athletics Richard Giannini said. "They have great interest in golf and also in the Southern Miss golf program. This gift will help pay great dividends for the student-athletes of our golf programs."
This year the Stokes Distributing Company, represented by Wilberding, long-time employee of Stokes Distributing Company and the coordinator of the golf tournament, presented a check to Southern Miss Athletic Director Richard Giannini, Deputy Director of Athletics Scott Carr, Associate Director of Athletics and Eagle Club Executive Director Dick Vogel and Men's Golf Coach Jerry Weeks.
"They use to have a West Hills Golf Tournament but when they got fed up with doing it, they approached us about putting it on," Charles Burchell said. "We decided to put it in his name. It was about 20 or 25 of us that put it on. We have a golf group at Timberton, and they call us the "Brew Crew."
"We picked up all of the players that have been playing in it, so that made it easier to take over hosting the tournament," Gary Lukens said. "I have been playing in it and Charlie has been playing in it forever. We just picked up their list.
Every year, the Neal Stokes Golf Endowment will provide a partial scholarship to a Southern Miss golfer. The continued success of this endeavor is due to the individuals and businesses that faithfully support this event every year.
"Most everything is donated to us by area businesses and without their help we couldn't do it. We have a lot of hole sponsors and mostly because of Neal himself and the fact it is for the University and the golf scholarship, people have been extremely generous," Lukens added. "It's a lot of people, more than what you are talking to here.
"Miller Brewing Company pitches in and helps us. Our ties are very strong with Miller. We have people that we can call on right now and they will cut us a check."
There are 12 golf endowments set up at the present time, that provide scholarships for the Southern Miss men's and women's golf teams.
"The golf program at Southern Miss would like to thank Stokes Distributing Company for the support they have shown to us," Southern Miss Men's Golf Coach Jerry Weeks said. "The endowment helps everybody in the athletic department. It gives the golf programs more money once everything is endowed so that we have more operational money to keep improving the programs. Both continue to show improvement, and we know that it is a result of their contributions to us."
Those wishing to contribute to this scholarship fund, honoring Neal Stokes, can make donations to the Southern Miss Athletic Foundation/Neal Stokes Endowment, P.O. Box 15458, Hattiesburg, MS 39494.