Long-time Tate Countian Don Clanton has been named Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Alumnus of the Year for 2019. Northwest will hold its 2019 Homecoming festivities on Thursday, Oct. 10 on the Senatobia campus.
Clanton will be honored during the Alumni Celebration beginning at 4 p.m. in the Haraway Center.
Clanton attended Northwest from 1961-1963. Throughout the years, Clanton has been a vital part of the Northwest community serving as secretary of the Board of Trustees, as a member of the Northwest Foundation and as part-time manager of the Northwest Farm. These days, Clanton conducts informational seminars both on the campus and throughout Mississippi to help Mississippi educators and staff members who are retiring or have already retired.
Clanton, one of four children of John and Blanche Clanton, grew up in the Independence area. He graduated from Independence High School as valedictorian of the class of 1961.
Clanton said that during his time at Northwest, he basically went to class from 8 a.m. to noon and then off to his other jobs on a Mr. Brandon’s farm and as Independence Junior High School’s head football coach. “I got up at four in the morning to milk those cows, and then came on to class at eight o’clock. I took 65 hours at Northwest and I transferred 65 hours to Ole Miss. That is one thing I want students to remember—how important it is to make sure your classes will transfer,” he said. Clanton said he came to all of the games, but he was basically just a busy student taking general education classes and working his way through school. His favorite teachers were Mrs. Pauline Holladay, who taught English and Mr. Howard Carpenter, who taught social science. “I remember my English teacher Mrs. Elizabeth Chase was a tough one,” Clanton said.
After Northwest he attended the University of Mississippi, graduating in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a minor in history. He worked as a teacher and coach at Coldwater High School and attended Ole Miss part time until he received his master’s degree in school administration in 1971. During that time, Coldwater won the Chickasaw Conference triple crown in basketball, football and baseball, and were state champions in baseball.
Clanton coached and served as athletic director at Southaven High School and principal of Walnut High School before returning to Senatobia as drug education specialist for Senatobia City Schools. He was elected as superintendent of Tate County Schools and served from 1976-1987 and again from 1995-2000. He also served as the Woodmen of the World representative and assistant administrator of Senatobia Hospital and one term as mayor of Senatobia (1989-1993) and two terms as alderman at-large (2009-2017).
Throughout the years, Clanton has served as a member of the Senatobia Civitan Club, the Tate County Fair Board, the North Oaks Regional Medical Center and several educational boards, including the North Mississippi Education Consortium, where he represented Northwest.
Today, Clanton is an active member of the Senatobia Optimist Club and president of the local lodge of the Woodmen of the World. He is an assistant commissioner of the Tate County Soil and Water Commission and a member of the Mississippi State Council on Aging, the Tate County chapter of Mississippi Retired Educational Personnel, the AARP Advocacy Board for Mississippi and the Tate County 4-H Board.
Clanton is a member of First Baptist Church in Senatobia and volunteers his time working with the elderly at the Senatobia Arms Apartments, Providence Care Community and Senatobia Healthcare and Rehab. He is part of the Tate County Jail ministry and has played Santa Claus at schools, churches and in homes for 35 years.
One of the things that is dear to his heart is the Northwest Foundation. He started as a member of the Foundation board in 1976. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Tate County Fair Board and Senatobia Optimist Club scholarships among others and has contributed to over 40 scholarships he said. “I think the Foundation is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened at Northwest because so many kids could not have come to Northwest without that help. I get letters from students later on in life thanking us for their Northwest scholarships,” Clanton said. “I have just wanted to make a way for students to attend school.”
Clanton is married to the former Shirley Nazary of Jackson. He has three daughters, Audra Henson, Annette Carson and Cindy Jones; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. “All of my immediate family members attended Northwest except two, and they worked here. We are a Northwest family,” Clanton said.
Having served as a coach, teacher, principal, superintendent, city mayor and alderman has made Clanton aware of the community’s need for Northwest and also his own desire to continue to encourage students to attend college.
“From the mayor’s point of view, this is Tate County’s largest employer, and it contributes not only to education, but also economically. I am so proud to have Northwest as a part of our community, but we are really a family,” Clanton said. “I love Northwest. It is my second home.”
Pre-game festivities begin at 6:35 p.m. and kickoff will be at 7 p.m. at Bobby Franklin Field when the Rangers will take on the Coahoma Community College Tigers. Presentation of the 2019 Homecoming Court and the crowning of the Homecoming Queen by Northwest President, Dr. Michael Heindl will take place at halftime.
For more information, contact the Alumni Office at 662-560-1112.