Kelly Mims establishes scholarship to help veterans earn law degrees
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 UM School of Law, the Tupelo 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.
Mims was promoted to brigadier general in 2022 upon his retirement, after serving 34 years in the Army National Guard. His father, the late Col. Larry Mims, of Plantersville, and many family members have also served in the military.
Larry Mims retired in 1993 after 37 years with the Mississippi National Guard, and 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. He also was instrumental in developing 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, Maj. 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 MSU before completing his Juris Doctor at Ole Miss in 2000.
Fred Slabach, professor and dean of the law school, expressed appreciation for the endowment.
“Our veterans have given their country more than we can imagine,” Slabach said. “They deserve to be rewarded for their service.
“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 a judge for Mississippi District 1, which includes Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc, Prentiss, and Tishomingo counties. He formerly was 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. After graduating as a lieutenant from Officer Candidacy School in 1992, he became a platoon leader in Booneville, where he later commanded Company B.
The military ultimately took Mims to Phoenix; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and Tacoma, Washington, where he retired as a brigade commander in 2022. Besides 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, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or by giving online here.
By Bill Dabney