Citizen of the Year

Chamber Honors Dr. Jo Ann O’Quinn as 49th Annual Citizen of the Year 

At the 2022 Annual Meeting the Chamber presented the 49th Annual Oxford-Lafayette County-University Citizen of the Year Award.  Since 1972, the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce has sought to recognize individuals who have made positive contributions to Oxford, Lafayette County and the University of Mississippi as Citizen of the Year.  

Nominated candidates were judged on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Their positive volunteer contributions to the Oxford/Lafayette/University community;
  • Their contributions above and beyond those normally expected in an elective or appointive position, or above and beyond mere success in a business or profession;
  • and their perception as a role model for good citizenship and volunteerism in a non-paid capacity for our community.

This year’s Citizen of the Year honoree was Dr. Jo Ann O’Quin.  Dr. O’Quin’s commitment to volunteerism in the community is unparalleled, and her efforts make a lasting change that benefits hundreds of families each year. She is a mentor, a friend, and a relentless advocate for the aging and elderly. 

As an extension of her former work with the University of Mississippi, the honoree’s volunteerism is the education of community members from all professional and social settings­ – including students, caregivers, pharmacists, attorneys, social workers, and other health professionals.  Teaching them all by her example on improving the quality of care to citizens of Oxford and throughout Mississippi. 

Even while working at the University of Mississippi as a professor and raising a family, Dr. O’Quinn organized the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Caregiver Support Group, and, since 1985, has facilitated the monthly meetings for this group. This support group provides invaluable resources and support to family members who are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and other related dementias. Thanks to her efforts, it is the longest running support group of its kind in the country! 

In 2000, she founded Caring for Aging Relatives Effectively Education and Support Group, and continues to facilitate that group to this day. She also co-founded “Memory Makers,” a non-profit Alzheimer’s day respite program in 2011. Memory Makers provides the opportunity for caregivers to receive a respite from care while their loved one participates in activities that engage them both creatively and physically. 

The energy of Dr. O’Quin is inspiring! Not even a pandemic could interfere with her efforts. Whether via Zoom or by hosting a socially ­distanced meeting on her own front lawn, she continued to ensure the families she supports could meet monthly and receive the support they so desperately needed. She encourages businesses engaged in elder care to collaborate to bring resources to thls community, resources that are designed to enhance the training of all people working to care for older adults. 

Dr. Jo Ann 0’Quin is Professor Emerita of Social Work at the University of Mississippi. She is a prolific author, lecturer, workshop organizer, and grant writer. Her empathy and her compassion provide a source of comfort and hope to families who are facing the life change that is inevitable with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It is a labor of love in the truest sense, and it leaves an undeniable mark on all lives she touches.

Previous Citizen of the Year Recipients

William McNeil Reed – 1972
Jean Allen Young – 1973
Dr. and Mrs. J.D. Williams – 1974
Fred Taylor – 1975
Dr. Frank Anderson – 1976
Dr. C. M. Murry – 1977
Will Lewis, Sr. – 1978
Travis King – 1979
Nina Goolsby and Jesse Phillips – 1980
Dr. L. G. Hopkins – 1981
Lake and Dick Elliott – 1982
Dr. James Mann – 1983
B.O. Elliott, Jr. – 1984
Clark Littlejohn – 1985
Will Hickman – 1986
William N. Lovelady – 1987
Edgar Harold Overstreet – 1988
Robert C. Khayat – 1989
Jack F. Dunbar – 1990
Buddy East – 1991
Bernie L Smith, III – 1992
Willie B. Tankersley – 1993
Mayor John Leslie – 1994
Louise Avent – 1995
Walker Coffey – 1996
Mary Ann Fruge’ – 1997
J.C. Goolsby – 1998
Vaughn Grisham/Pete Ramey – 1999
Duncan Gray – 2000
Mary Lexa – 2001
Sonny Johnson – 2002
Lena Wiley – 2003
Harry Sneed – 2004
Darryail Whittington – 2005
Dan Phillips – 2006
H.C. Franklin – 2007
James Pryor – 2008
Dr. Keith Mansel – 2009
Hollis Crowder – 2010
Jean Shaw – 2011
Bill Russell – 2012
Dr. Fred Laurenzo/Wil St. Amand – 2013
Max D. Hipp – 2014
Dr. Dan Jones – 2015
Captain Max Miller – 2016
Darlene Copp – 2017
Sherwin Haynie – 2018
Judge Andrew “Andy” Howorth – 2019
*No honoree in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID
Dr. Jo Ann O’Quinn – 2022