2007 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Jackson (11th), Albritton, Browning, Burton, Butler, Carmichael, Chaney, Chassaniol, Clarke, Davis, Dawkins, Dearing, Gollott, Gordon, Harden, Hewes, Jackson (15th), Jackson (32nd), Jordan, Mettetal, Thomas, Tollison, White

Senate Concurrent Resolution 519

(As Adopted by Senate)


     WHEREAS, William "Will" Townsend died a hero; and

     WHEREAS, Townsend, a 19-year-old Clarksdale, Mississippi, native, was one of three University of Mississippi students who died early Friday morning, August 27, 2004, in a fire at the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity House on the campus of the University of Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, according to Townsend's father, Jim, his son died after going back into the fraternity house to save a friend.  Jim Townsend, Vice President and Trust Officer at First National Bank of Clarksdale, said his son, after smelling smoke, awoke and alerted others in the fraternity that the house was on fire.  He also helped the house mother escape safely; and

     WHEREAS, once outside, Will, a Sophomore Accounting major, went back in the house to save a friend he knew was missing.  Jim Townsend said his son died of smoke inhalation.  The father said many ATO fraternity members thanked him for his son having saved lives in the house; and

     WHEREAS, people who knew Will Townsend, a 2003 graduate of Lee Academy, said this story sounds a lot like the kid they knew; and

     WHEREAS, "He never hesitated to help others," said high school Geometry and Calculus teacher, Beverly Thomas.  "Will was a special kid.  In addition to being very intelligent, he was so much fun to be around.  He was one of the most-liked fellows in the class"; and

     WHEREAS, Will Townsend, an Ole Miss student, was born October 3, 1984, in Clarksdale.  He was a 2003 graduate of Lee Academy, where he ranked 11th out of 62 graduates with a 4.0 grade-point average.  He was Co-Editor of the Annual, a member of the Key Club, President of the National Junior Honor Society, Vice President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a three-year member of the National Honor Society.  He was a member of Quill and Scroll and participated on the school's Odyssey of the Mind Team, which advanced to the world finals.  He served as a football manager for two years and was a member of Lee's Math Competition and Mock Trial Teams.  On the latter, he was voted Best Attorney by the judges.  He was a four-year Academic Betterment Competition participant; and

     WHEREAS, Mr. Townsend's honors included the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Conference, the Rotary Youth Leadership Conference, American Legion Boys State, Exchange Club Student of the Month, Lee Academy Hall of Fame, Who's Who Among American High School Students, American Legion Good Citizenship Award and the Clarksdale Rotary Club Chester Curtis Award.  He was a member of the Chrysalis Community and the First United Methodist Church Youth Group.  He scored a 30 on the American College Test and was named Lee Academy's STAR Student by the Mississippi Economic Council.  He also won the Eminent Scholar Award; and

     WHEREAS, at Ole Miss, Mr. Townsend was a member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and received the Peery Accounting Scholarship; and

     WHEREAS, Will Townsend was an Eagle Scout and also loved sports, especially Lee Academy and Ole Miss football.  But his life revolved around Ole Miss.  He was at every game cheering for them.  He loved politics and world events.  He loved expressing his opinion on politics.  He knew what he wanted out of life; and

     WHEREAS, survivors include his parents, James and Vida Townsend of Clarksdale; a sister, Ellen Townsend of Clarksdale; and a grandmother, Rose Townsend of Greenville; and

     WHEREAS, it is with great sadness that we remember the actions of this young University of Mississippi student who was hailed as a hero, and is greatly missed by his family, his friends and by the State of Mississippi:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the heroism of William (Will) Townsend of Clarksdale, Mississippi, who died while rescuing others in the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity House fire on the University of Mississippi campus on August 27, 2004, and we extend our sympathy and prayers to his family and friends in his memory.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to the surviving family of Will Townsend, be forwarded to the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.