Circuit Court Judge Kelly Mims has created a scholarship to help veterans who want to earn a law degree from the University of Mississippi.
With a $50,000 gift to the Ole Miss School of Law, the Tupelo, Mississippi, resident established the Judge Kelly L. Mims Leadership Law Scholarship Endowment. Veterans (or verified dependents of veterans) enrolled full-time with at least a 2.0 GPA are eligible for the scholarship.
In 2022, Mims was promoted to brigadier general upon his retirement after serving 34 years in the Army National Guard. His father, the late Col. Larry Mims, of Plantersville, Mississippi, and many family members have also served in the military.
After Larry Mims retired in 1993 after 37 years with the Mississippi National Guard, he dedicated himself to helping veterans by becoming involved in the American Legion, VFW, Boy’s State, Legion Baseball, the Legion Oratory Competition and other organizations. Additionally, he was instrumental in bringing to life the Tupelo Veterans Park, where an engraved brick was placed as a tribute to his service.
“Upon his death, we wanted a way to honor his legacy,” Mims said, explaining the family also established a scholarship, the Col. Larry Mims Leadership Award, at Mississippi State University. Both endowments were created to offset college tuition for veterans and their families.
“We want to help those who signed a blank check to Uncle Sam for service in our armed forces,” Mims said, adding his father, brother, Major Kirk Mims, and he served together in the same Desert Storm unit.
“Fortunately, we all returned in one piece, but my mom was a mess,” the judge recalled. “Then, my family continued to worry when I deployed to combat in Iraq in 2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom III. But that’s what it’s about. We answer the call when our country needs us, and my father was proud of that fact. We want to honor and support those who do the same.”
Mims earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Mississippi State University before completing his Juris Doctor degree at Ole Miss in 2000.
Law dean and professor of law Fred Slabach expressed appreciation for the endowment.
“Our veterans have given their country more than we can imagine. They deserve to be rewarded for their service,” Slabach said. “I’m grateful to Judge Mims for his vision in seeking to help our service men and women obtain a law degree with which they can then build successful careers.”
Mims is Circuit Court Judge for Mississippi District 1, which includes Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc, Prentiss and Tishomingo counties. He was formerly an attorney in private practice with Mims & Logan.
To help offset his own college tuition, he joined the guard in July 1988, as an armor soldier working with tanks in Nettleton, Mississippi. After graduating as a lieutenant from Officer Candidacy School in 1992, he became a platoon leader in Booneville, Mississippi, where he later commanded Company B.
The military ultimately took Mims to Phoenix, Arizona; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and Tacoma, Washington, where he retired as a Brigade Commander in 2022. In addition to Operation Iraqi Freedom III, he served in Operation Desert Storm/Shield in 1990. He has continued to serve in the Army Reserves the last 15 years.
Tax-deductible gifts can be made to the Judge Kelly L. Mims Leadership Law Scholarship Endowment by sending a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or by giving online here.
For more information about supporting the School of Law, contact Suzette Matthews, executive director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-1122.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation