Bobby Chain, a former mayor of the city of Hattiesburg and a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, died Saturday, May 31 at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg. He was 84.
Both visitations and funeral service will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Hattiesburg, located at 4901 Hardy St. Visitation will be today, June 2 from 5-7 p.m. and again Tuesday, June 3 from 1 -2 p.m. The funeral service will be held Tuesday, June 3 at 2 p.m.
Chain was chairman and CEO of Chain Electric Company in Hattiesburg. He served as Hattiesburg’s mayor from 1980-1985 and was a member of the board of trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning from 1972-1984, serving as its president in 1978.
He was a member of the Southern Miss Alumni Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Southern Miss Department of Athletics Distinguished Service Award and the Alumni Association’s Continuous Service Award. He also served on the university’s College of Business Advisory Council from 1988-2003 and as chairman of the university’s 75th anniversary campaign, and was national coordinator for the establishment of the university’s Trent Lott Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.
“Bobby Chain was one of the most loyal alums Southern Miss has ever had. His loyalty was evidenced by his service on the college board, which allowed him to represent what this university needed to and could become,” said Southern Miss President Emeritus Dr. Aubrey Lucas.
“He was forceful and persistent in representing his university. He was a wonderful ambassador for this institution in all of the associations which he enjoyed in business, and professional relationships as well as private relations and friendships. We mourn his passing and we give thanks for his consistent support of his alma mater.”
Chain has also served on numerous boards at the local, state and national level. He was a member of the board of directors for the Mississippi Economic Council from 1982-1983 and 1992-1993. He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to serve on the National Advisory Council for the Small Business Administration 1964-1968 and by President Reagan to serve on the National Advisory Council on Adult Education from 1984-1988, the latter for which he served as chairman from 1986-1987.
Chain was the recipient of the first Hub Award, given to an individual who has made significant contributions to advance the quality of life in the Hattiesburg area. The Pine Burr Area Council and the Boy Scouts of America presented Chain with its 2008 Lifetime of Achievement Award, and he received the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s 2009 Hope Award.
“Bobby Chain set standards for statesmanship, and service to others is one of the hallmarks of his legacy,” said Southern Miss Dean of Students and former Hattiesburg City Councilman Dr. Eddie Holloway. “He enjoyed production, accomplishment and giving of his time and talents.
“Today, Southern Miss and the city of Hattiesburg are better because of his vision and commitment to service. He lives on though his gifts and work for our community and university.”
Chain served as chairman of the Alumni Planning and Steering Committee for the former Demonstration School, located on the university’s Hattiesburg campus, where he earned his high school diploma. Located in the university’s George Hurst Building, the school served as a laboratory for student teachers and as a K-12 school up until the early 1960s.
In 2010 during the university’s centennial anniversary, Chain and fellow alumni helped secure a marker for the building and school from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, along with ones honoring students and teachers who died in military service and an information kiosk.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation’s Bobby Chain Endowed Scholarship Fund.