First Clyde Donnell tournament comes to Clear Creek|[9/25/06]

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 25, 2006

Clyde Donnell’s touch is all over Clear Creek Golf Course.

Before it was developed, he and his family lived in a home on the site in Bovina. As a Warren County supervisor in the late 1970s, he helped fund its construction. And as a retiree in recent years, he played the course regularly. Today, a small monument to him stands near the clubhouse.

Donnell’s presence also was felt at Hinds Community College. He served on the school’s Board of Trustees from 1968-76 and was on its development board from 2002-05.

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It’s only natural then, that Hinds’ Warren/Claiborne County Alumni group has found a way to combine Donnell’s passion for both places into a fitting tribute to him. The alumni group’s annual golf tournament – another event Donnell helped start – has been renamed the Warren/Claiborne County Alumni Clyde Donnell Memorial Golf Tournament in his memory. Donnell died in October 2005 at the age of 83.

&#8220He loved golf and he loved Hinds, and putting the two together was a great idea,” said Donnell’s daughter, Gail Rhett, who gave her blessing to the alumni group when they approached her about renaming the tournament. &#8220We used to live out there and back then it was Section 16 land. He always said this would make a great golf course. Back then it was a couple hundred acres of cows roaming around.”

This year’s tournament will be played Wednesday at Clear Creek. The four-man scramble starts at 1:30 p.m. and has an entry fee of $70 per player or $280 per team. All proceeds benefit the alumni group’s scholarship fund. Rhett said her family will be well-represented at the event, beyond the new name. Donnell’s son, Richard, grandson Richard Rhett and sons-in-law Glenn Rhett and Terrin Grisson will play as a four-man team.

&#8220We’re all going to be represented in it. We formed our own team,” Gail Rhett said.

Strangely, Donnell never attended Hinds or any other college. The D’Lo native spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy before moving to Vicksburg and settling down in the early 1960s as a construction worker. He was appointed to Hinds’ Board of Trustees as Warren County’s representative in 1968 and had his stint as a county supervisor a decade later.

Two of Donnell’s three children went to Hinds, and Gail Rhett said her father saw the junior college as an asset to the community.

&#8220He sent his two daughters there. He just thought it was a great school, and having a branch in Vicksburg was wonderful,” she said. &#8220He thought the education part was important, and thought it gave people who couldn’t go away from home a chance to further their education.”

In the early 1990s, Donnell helped get the alumni association’s annual golf tournament off the ground. Othel Mendrop, a friend of Donnell’s for nearly 40 years, ignited Donnell’s interest in helping the scholarship fund. As time went on, Donnell took a more prominent role in its organization.

&#8220He got involved by me,” said Mendrop, a Hinds graduate who served as the first principal at Warren Central in 1965. &#8220I went to Hinds, and we were trying to get the scholarship fund going. He played every year until he couldn’t any more.”