Making a Difference: Service distinguishes Charity Ball royalty

April 5, 2014 8:20:42 PM



At its 64th annual Charity Ball Saturday, Junior Auxiliary of Columbus introduced the 2014 Ball King and Queen to fanfare and celebrated service to the community.  


Queen Madison Ann Ford and King Elton Sigrest Thomas Jr. were honored before a capacity crowd at Trotter Convention Center. A court of 22 high school seniors who have completed more than 2,000 hours of service in their community, churches and schools was also presented. 


The Charity Ball and Junior Auxiliary's annual Report to the Community generate funds to support the chapter's year-round service projects for children throughout Lowndes County. Current JA projects include Choose Your Path, Clothing for children in need, Fit and Fabulous Forever, In My Shoes, Junior Auxiliary Mentors, Stand up-Speak Out and Reality Fair. 


The Charity Ball continues a heralded tradition that dates back to the first ball in 1951, which was led by ball chairmen Helen Pilkinton and Catherine Taylor. Betty Ruth Hardin Welch was the first queen and Irvin Weitzenhoffer was king. 


Each year's king is recognized for excellence in business, civic contributions, citizenship and community leadership. The queen is a role model for youth, displaying leadership in academic achievement, civic participation and work in charitable organizations.  


The king 


King Elton Sigrest Thomas Jr. was born in Yokohama, Japan. He is the son of the late Dr. and Mrs. Elton Sigrest Thomas. His mother, Gene, was a life member of Junior Auxiliary of Columbus. 


He is married to Nell McAllister Thomas, a life member of Junior Auxiliary of Columbus. They have a daughter, Michelle Thomas Edwards of Madison, and a son, Elton Sigrest Thomas III of Columbus, both of whom have participated in the Junior Auxiliary Pilgrimage Ball Court. They are the grandparents of five grandsons: Mackie Edwards, Davis Edwards, Thomas Edwards, Si Thomas and Cole Thomas.  


Thomas is a 1967 graduate of Stephen D. Lee High School in Columbus, where he was a champion golfer and captain of the golf team, leading his team to the Big Eight Conference Championship in 1966 and 1967. He was a member of the 1967 Junior Auxiliary Pilgrimage Ball Court.  


After high school, he attended the University of Mississippi and Marion Military Institute. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Mississippi State University.  


Presently, Thomas is a partner in the accounting firm of Mitchener, Stacy, Thomas and Associates. He is a member of the Mississippi Society of CPAs and the American Institute of CPAs. He served on the Mississippi Society of CPA's Peer Review Committee for 12 years. The Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy has appointed him to a three-person team of CPAs to perform as liaison between the Board and Peer Review Committee.  




In the community 


Dedicated to education, Thomas has served on the Heritage Academy board of directors and held positions of president and vice president. He was also an active member of the Heritage Academy Sports Boosters and volunteered as the Heritage football team videographer for many years.  


A member of First United Methodist Church for almost 60 years, he has chaired the Finance Committee and the Administrative Board, co-chaired the Capital Funds Campaign and served on the Stewardship Committee. An active supporter of youth and education, he served as Youth Council advisor, ninth- and 10th-grade Sunday school teacher, youth counselor, Disciple Bible Study leader, Adult Sunday School teacher and Confirmation Class mentor. He also served as Usher chairman and co-chairman.  


Currently, he serves as chairman of the Administrative Division. He is a member of the Staff Parish Committee, Finance Committee, Lay Leadership Committee and Usher Team. He is a Lay delegate to the Mississippi Annual Conference, and a member of the North Mississippi Emmaus Community.  


Through the years, Thomas has shared his time and talents to support numerous community organizations. He has served as a board member of the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce and the Columbus-Lowndes Development LINK. He has actively supported the Boy Scouts of America, United Way of Lowndes County, Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society, Mississippi Ducks Unlimited, YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, Main Street Columbus, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Camp Rising Sun, Kids With Character, Columbus Girl Choir, Columbus Country Club and Jerusalem Institute of Biblical Studies.  




The queen 


Queen Madison Ann Ford is a 2010 graduate of Heritage Academy where she was selected as a member of the Hall of Fame and was elected Miss Heritage Academy, Most Athletic and Most School Spirit. She also received the Heritage Academy Spirit Award. She served as president of the Student Government Association, the MCA Social Club for four years, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  


An Academy Honors student and President's Award recipient, she was a member of National Honor Society, Beta Club, MAIS Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. She also served as a Lowndes Young Leader and received the Scholarship Award for the 2010 Lowndes County Junior Miss Program. 




On the field 


An avid sports enthusiast, Madison received the Bo Simpson Student Athlete Award and the Wendy's Heisman Award, in addition to being named a state finalist for the Heisman. She received the Yandell S. Harris Outstanding Basketball Player Award, as well as being named MVP and Most Valuable Offensive player. She was named an MAIS Varsity Basketball All-Star, a Clarion Ledger Girls Varsity Basketball Top Performer and a member of the Commercial Dispatch Large School All Area Varsity Basketball Team.  


Ford also served as the varsity baseball team statistician and a Diamond Girl. She was awarded the MVP award for varsity softball and was named to the MAIS North AAA All Conference Softball team. Her senior year she was a member of the varsity swim team. She was also named "Most Valuable in Field" for Track and Field for four years and was the state champion in Track and Field Discus. 




In community and school 


As an active member of First United Methodist Church and its youth ministry, Ford served as a group leader and mentor for seventh-grade girls and as an assistant Small Group leader for this same group of girls for three years while at Mississippi State University. She has also served on Mission Trip teams, including a Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Team, and was a Vacation Bible School worker each summer.  


Ford is currently pursuing dual degrees from MSU and Mississippi University for Women in nursing. A dean's list student and Shackouls Honors College member, she is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Lambda Sigma, Alpha Lambda Delta, Alpha Epsilon Delta, National Society of Leadership and Success and the Greek Honor Society, Order of Omega. She has received several academic scholarships, one of them the MSU Academic Excellence Scholarship. She is a Mississippi Eminent Scholar. 


While at MSU, Ford served as a Student Association senator and Senate Public Relations committee member. She is a member of Delta Gamma Fraternity. She plays on seven intramural sports teams and was a member of the MSU Women's Club Basketball Team. She is also an active member of local and national chapters of the Student Nurses' Association. 


Volunteer activities in high school included the Humane Society, Angel Food Ministries, Operation Christmas Child, Salvation Army Angel Tree and American Cancer Society Relay for Life. During high school and college, she has served on North Mississippi Chrysalis and Emmaus teams and in several nursing homes in the Golden Triangle and Jackson, in addition to working on Habitat for Humanity homes. Her service also includes volunteering at Camp Rising Sun for two summers and volunteering at Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital and Grace Place Soup Kitchen. She has also conducted vision screenings for children in Starkville each year while at MSU. 


She will receive a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in biology and kinesiology from MSU and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from MUW in May 2015. She plans to attend graduate school to become a nurse anesthetist. 


Ford was presented by the Southern Debutante Assembly at its 2011 White and Gold Ball.  


She is the daughter of Dr. Norman and Celia Ford. Her mother is a life member and former president of Junior Auxiliary of Columbus. Her father was a royal page in 1972 and a member of the 1982 Pilgrimage Ball Court.  


She is the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Ford Sr. of Columbus and Mrs. James Price Cook Sr. and the late Mr. Cook of Batesville. She is the great-granddaughter of former king Floyd W. Brown and Mrs. Hawley Brown, charter member and former president of Junior Auxiliary of Columbus. 




JA Ball Royalty for the past 10 years 






Mr. Andrew Miller Griffin 


Miss Anna Conwill Rice 






Mr. Bascom Andrew "B.A." Atkins  


Miss Katherine Elizabeth "Katy" Waters 






Mr. Allen Boyd Puckett III 


Miss Florence McLeod Davis 






Mr. Thomas Kelleam Sneed 


Miss Elizabeth Spencer Ford 






Mr. Charleigh Ford Jr. 


Miss Bailey Blaire Griffin  






Mr. James C. Galloway 


Miss Elizabeth Harper Ferguson 






Mr. Eugene Beard "Gene" Imes 


Miss Jennifer Rose Adams 






Mr. John Thompson Bean III 


Miss Madeline Frances Hardy 






Mr. Raymond Michael Waters III 


Miss Kendyl Diane Hall 






Mr. John Eugene Reed Jr. 


Miss Margaret Fairfax Davis