Community service and pageantry were center stage at the 68th annual Junior Auxiliary of Columbus Charity Ball Saturday. Cheers greeted the formal presentation of Charity Ball King Jerryld Reau Berry and Queen Ashley Megill Imes at Trotter Convention Center.
A court of 14 high school seniors was also introduced to the capacity crowd. The students have performed more than 1,400 hours of service in their community, schools and churches
The gala fundraising event supports Junior Auxiliary’s numerous year-round service projects for children throughout Lowndes County.
King Jerryld Reau Berry is a lifelong resident of Columbus and the son of Mr. Charles Edward Berry and the late Lounora Johnston Berry. He attended Demonstration School; Heritage Academy, where he was student body president; Mississippi State University, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity; and the University of Mississippi.
After college, he joined the family business, Johnston Tombigbee Furniture, and is currently the company’s president and CEO. In 1981, he started the company’s Hospitality Division which is now JTB’s primary product.
Berry has been affiliated with several national contract furniture organizations, having served on the Asian American Hotel Owners Association Vendor Board and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Trust Fund Board.
He is a former member of the Columbus Rotary Club and a former board member of the Lowndes County Economic Development LINK. He has also represented the American furniture industry several times in Washington, D.C., by testifying before the International Trade Commission and incoming members of Congress and their staffs.
The charity ball king was recently honored at the White House by the USDA Rural Development Business Department for his partnership with that organization and excellence in preserving manufacturing jobs in rural areas. He has also served on the Baptist Hospital-GTR Financial Advisory Board and the Mississippi University for Women Advisory Board.
Youth, community involvement
Berry has been a lifelong supporter of Junior Auxiliary of Columbus as a corporate sponsor and has appeared in numerous ball plays. He has two nieces who have been charity ball queens, Becky Berry Scott and Laurabeth Berry Harris.
Working with the children and youth of Columbus and Lowndes County has always been important to him. He was a four-time president of the Boys and Girls Club and served on its board for an additional four years.
He is a past local and regional board member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has served as a mentor to children who are a part of the Juvenile Detention Program.
Berry served on the Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Board for four years overseeing construction of the first dedicated soccer fields in Columbus. He is a benefactor to Palmer Home for Children and Habitat for Humanity.
Berry is a former member of St Paul’s Episcopal Church where he served on the Vestry, the church’s governing body, was a choir member and a Lay Eucharistic minister.
He is currently a member of First Baptist Church where he is a member of the choir, the Men of Praise gospel group, is a longtime young adult Sunday School teacher, deacon and member of the finance committee. He is also active with the LLL, the senior ministry group, hosting an annual luncheon at Owl Creek. Berry is a former member of the long-range planning committee and the search committee. He is a lifetime member of Gideons International.
He is married to Kelli Caldwell Berry, a life member of Junior Auxiliary of Columbus. Their children, Johnston Brooks Berry and Frances Elizabeth Berry, were both charity ball court members.
Queen Ashley Megill Imes is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Beard Imes. She is the granddaughter of Mrs. Vinton Birney Imes Jr. and the late Mr. Imes, and Mrs. Joy Day Greene and Mr. Charles William Greene. Her grandfather, Vinton Birney Imes Jr., reigned as the 1958 Pilgrimage Ball king, and her father, Eugene Beard Imes, reigned as the 2010 Charity Ball king. She served in the 2014 Charity Ball court.
She is a 2014 salutatorian graduate of Heritage Academy, where she earned honors and awards for academics, leadership, service and character. She was chosen Most Likely to Succeed, belonged to the National Beta Club and was inducted into the Heritage Academy Hall of Fame.
She received the Amelia Anne Smith Perkins Excellence in Leadership Award, the Kay Marshall SGA President Award, the Citizenship Award and the Service Award. She also served as student body president.
Throughout high school, the charity ball queen also served as president of the Mayor’s Youth Council and participated as a Lowndes Young Leader. She volunteered for community service projects with Helping Hands, Palmer Home for Children and vacation bible school.
Megill also was recognized for her musical talents by receiving superior rating at the National Federation of Music Clubs Festival in both violin and piano.
Being an avid horseback rider, she received awards for riding, such as the United States Junior Novice Rider of the Year award.
At school, in service
The charity ball queen is a senior at Mississippi State University and a member of the Shackouls Honors College. She will graduate with Leadership Honors with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in management with a concentration in international business and a Bachelor of Arts degree in foreign languages, with a concentration in French.
She has made the president’s list and dean’s list and is a member of eight honor societies, including Pi Delta Phi and Beta Gamma Sigma. Imes has been active in many campus organizations, including the MSU Student Association research and development committee. She is a member of Chi Omega Sorority, where she contributes to the chapter’s Make-A-Wish philanthropy among other community service projects. Imes is a charter member and served as president of the Eventing Club at MSU. She also was selected for and participates in the Montgomery Leadership Program. Through this program, she has been given the opportunity to work closely with students in the ACCESS Program, a comprehensive plan to help students with intellectual disabilities achieve higher education.
The charity ball queen mentors weekly at the Boys and Girls Club and was selected Mentor of the Month in 2016. Her appreciation of music guided her implementation of a capstone project at the Boys and Girls Club to expose students to various musical instruments and musical culture.
Her accomplishments span diverse roles, communities and services. She uses her talents in all she undertakes and works toward giving back to others. In 2017, Imes was recognized by Volunteer Mississippi as a GIVE nomination recipient for her dedication to service in the state. She uses her love of horses through volunteer efforts at the Elizabeth A. Howard Therapeutic Riding Center, facilitating equestrian development and lessons for special needs children. She has volunteered at the Summer Equine Outdoor Adventures Program for At Risk Youth and the Redbud Children’s Horse Camp.
The charity ball queen has also participated at First United Methodist Church in Starkville by helping with vacation bible school, the GAP program and serving on the archives and history committee. She remains a member of First Baptist Church in Columbus.
JA Charity Ball Royalty for the past decade
2008 Mr. Charleigh Ford Jr.
Miss Bailey Blaire Griffin
2009 Mr. James C. Galloway
Miss Elizabeth Harper Ferguson
2010 Mr. Eugene Beard “Gene” Imes
Miss Jennifer Rose Adams
2011 Mr. John Thompson Bean III
Miss Madeline Frances Hardy
2012 Mr. Raymond Michael Waters III
Miss Kendyl Diane Hall
2013 John Eugene Reed Jr.
Miss Margaret Fairfax Davis
2014 Mr. Elton Sigrest Thomas Jr.
Miss Madison Ann Ford
2015 Mr. Thomas Leyton (Bud) Phillips
Miss Caroline Emily Borland
2016 Mr. Thomas Evans Whitaker
Miss Anna Gaines Gaskin
2017 Mr. George Stephenson Hazard Jr.
Miss Margaret Jane Butler