Corinth Coca-Cola Bottling Works Inc. has been serving ice-cold beverages since 1907. In that time, the family-owned and operated organization has expanded from its original location in Corinth, Mississippi, to multiple locations across the Mid-South.
And all the while, family members have run the business. Now in its fifth generation of owners and operators, Corinth Coke not only has deep roots in Coca-Cola and the Mid-South but also at the University of Mississippi, where four generations of the family hold degrees.
To honor their UM legacy while helping future generations of students, the family has funded one scholarship — the Corinth Coca-Cola Business School Scholarship Endowment — and formalized a second scholarship, Refreshments Inc. Partners in Business Scholarship Fund, which has supported UM School of Business Administration students for many years.
“Our family has owned and operated this business for more than 100 years and we’ve got connections to Ole Miss that go back for generations as well,” said Ken Williams Jr., who has two children who are either recent graduates or current students and represent the fourth generation of Williams family at the university.
Corinth Coke’s chair, Sandy Williams (BBA ’57) and his wife Rosemary Taylor Williams (BS ’60), a native of Lucedale, Mississippi, as well as president and CEO Kenneth Williams (BBA ’63) and his late wife, Nancy Kincade Williams (BS ’63), a native of Clarksdale, Mississippi, all earned degrees from Ole Miss.
After completing undergraduate work at Millsaps College, Corinth Coke’s COO, Ken Williams Jr., earned his MBA in 1994 from the Ole Miss Business School. His daughter, Emma, is a junior at Ole Miss pursuing a degree in communication sciences. His oldest daughter, Elizabeth, graduated in 2018 with a degree in elementary education just like her grandmother, Nancy Kincade Williams, did in 1963.
Nancy Williams’ father, Robert P. Kincade, played football for the Rebels from 1935 to 1938, including the Rebels’ first and only appearance in the Orange Bowl in 1936.
“Our connections to Ole Miss are early and often,” Williams said. “And several of us have been educated in the School of Business Administration. Our involvement with Ole Miss has been extremely beneficial to us, and we want to aid students in northeast Mississippi, so they have the same opportunities at the Business School.”
To achieve this goal of helping other students, the Coca-Cola Business School Scholarship awards a minimum of $1,000 for four semesters to full-time students enrolled in the School of Business Administration who are residents of the following counties in northeast Mississippi: Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Prentiss and Tishomingo.
Scholarship recipients must have a strong academic record, as well as a history of involvement in extra-curricular activities and service to others and their communities.
“We believe it’s important to educate young people from our region in the decades to come,” said Sandy Williams. “And we think Ole Miss is one of the premier places for that to occur and it’s right here in our own backyard.”
The Refreshments Inc. Partners in Business Scholarship provides funds to full-time sophomore, junior and senior students in the School of Business Administration who are residents of the following Mississippi counties: Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Marshall, Pontotoc and Union.
The Refreshments Scholarship is funded in part by an annual golf tournament, said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration, who is a veteran participant in this fundraiser.
“I have enjoyed the relationship with Kenneth and Sandy Williams since I have attended their charity golf tournament that benefits the Refreshments Inc. Scholarship for about a dozen years,” Cyree said.
“These events reveal the heart of this wonderful family to educate and elevate people in their organization and across the state and region,” he said. “It has been great to meet the family members and interact with them over the years. They are selfless and caring individuals and I appreciate their dedication and commitment. They have left quite the legacy on their family, company, Corinth and Ole Miss in addition to the region.”
“Our dream is that, with our assistance, some of the students from this area will attend the Business School and then stay in Mississippi and join one of the many quality companies already established or perhaps even start their own business venture,” said Kenneth Williams Sr. “Hopefully, they will use their talents to better the state for generations to come.”
“We believe that those who live and work in the communities in these counties are part of our family,” said Ken Williams Jr. “We’ve always felt that being involved in community events across the territories is an essential part of what we do.
“We are excited about the future of Ole Miss and northeast Mississippi,” he said. “We look forward to our small contribution playing a part in helping others find their own successful careers in business.”
The Corinth Coca-Cola Business School Scholarship Endowment and the Refreshments Inc. Partners in Business Scholarship Fund are open to accept gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the endowment’s or the fund’s name noted in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or online at https://give.olemiss.edu.