The Elmo Land Memorial Scholarship
Jesse Elmo Lang was born in Magnolia, Mississippi. He was an outstanding athlete in football, basketball and baseball, who came to Southern Miss, then Mississippi Southern College, in 1949 on a football scholarship. During his time as a Southerner, he set numerous records on the football field and was named Mr. USM his senior year.
After graduating in 1954, Lang served in the U.S. Army with the 11th Airborne Division as a paratrooper. Upon his retirement from the Army, he began work as an insurance adjuster, later becoming an attorney who practiced law in Pascagoula for more than 40 years.
Among his many honors, Lang was recognized for his achievements as an athlete in 1967 when he was inducted into the USM Sports Hall of Fame. He served as the Southern Miss Alumni Association’s president from July 1971 through June 1972, and during his tenure, he initiated and conducted a campus contest to determine an appropriate nickname and mascot for the University. The result of the contest was a change from “Southerners” as the athletic teams were then known, to the current nickname of “Golden Eagles.” Lang was recognized for his service to the Alumni Association and the University in 1987 when he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Alumni Association’s Hall of Fame.
He was married to Vivian Duckworth Lang, also a Southern Miss graduate, for 54 years. They have eight children, all Southern Miss graduates, as well as 17 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He passed away in August of 2008.
Lang always told his children and grandchildren, “College will be the greatest time of your life.” He was extremely grateful for his education at Southern Miss, as it provided a poor sharecropper’s son an opportunity to enjoy a wonderful life. The Elmo Lang Memorial Scholarship has been created to offer other students that same opportunity.