Alumnae/Alumnus of the Year
John W. Pace
John W. Pace of Hattiesburg and Barbara Dale Welch Fuller of Mendenhall were honored as Alumni of the Year at Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 27 during the Alumni Association’s awards luncheon and annual meeting on the college’s Wesson Campus.
John W. Pace
Pace is a 1986 graduate of Co-Lin. While at Co-Lin, Pace was a member of the band and was instrumental in changing the name of the Co-Lin Show Band to the Copiah-Lincoln Blue Wave Show Band. He attended the University of Southern Mississippi and received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and paralegal studies, and received a master’s degree in counseling from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He began his career with the State of Mississippi Department of Mental Health as a community-based social worker and later served as a social program instructor, medical quality assurance director, and as a patient advocate. Pace retired in 2013 after serving at four different state institutions spanning over 25 years.
Over the past three decades, Pace has volunteered more than 40,000 hours of community service and has directly or indirectly raised more than $7 million for over 300 Mississippi charitable causes. He received the Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Service Award (GIVE Award) for Outstanding Achievement in Community Building Initiatives. Pace was also awarded the President’s Call to Service Award for Lifetime Achievement in Volunteer Service. He is the only current recipient of both the State of Mississippi and the United States’ highest honors for a lifetime of service.
He currently serves as the community outreach specialist for Papa John’s Pizza and helps to raise money for veterans, law enforcement officers, and children. Pace is the founder of Team John Boy, a group that encourages volunteerism in the local community and giving in support of charities. He has one daughter, Brianna.
Fuller is a 1967 graduate of Co-Lin where she was president of the Wesley Foundation on campus and received the Suzanne Boyd Christian Leadership Award. She was involved in the Dramatics and French Clubs, Future Teachers of America, and Young Women’s Christian Association. She received a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in secondary education from the University of Mississippi and completed graduate studies at the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi College. She taught high school English for 44 years and retired from Simpson County Academy (SCA). SCA has since dedicated the building where she taught, “The Barbara Fuller Building,” to honor her 40 years at the school.
Fuller was inducted into the Mississippi STAR Teacher Hall of Fame in 2012 for being selected Star Teacher 10 times. She was recognized as the Simpson County Academy Teacher of the Year for three years and selected into Who’s Who Among Teachers. She was twice named a William Winter Teacher Scholar and Statewide Vance Teacher Scholar, and recognized at the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. She has been awarded numerous other professional recognitions.
Fuller is very active in Rials Creek United Methodist Church and serves as the secretary/treasurer of the Smith/Simpson Counties’ cluster of 13 United Methodist churches. She is also president of the Rials Creek United Methodist Women’s Organization, treasurer of the Action Adult Sunday School Class, and a member of the choir. She is co-contributor with her sister, Kathy, to the Magee Courier newspaper. For the past 15 years, she has written a community column “Rials Creek News” twice a month. She and her husband, Jon, have been married for 48 years and have two sons, Scott and Jay. She has six grandchildren.