An evening of pageantry and a focus on service marked the introduction of the Junior Auxiliary of Columbus 2022 Charity Ball king and queen Saturday at Trotter Convention Center in Columbus. The presentation of King Taylor Byrd Smith and Queen Anna Reed Hairston at the annual event brought cheers from a capacity crowd. Festivities also included the introduction of the royal court, 16 high school seniors.
The ball and Junior Auxiliary’s annual Report to the Community support the nonprofit chapter’s numerous year-round service projects for children throughout Lowndes County.
Anna Reed Hairston is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Edward Hairston III and sister of Nicholas Edward Hairston IV and John Prowell Hairston.
Reed attended Heritage Academy, graduating cum laude in 2017. Selected as Miss Heritage and Most Talented, she received the Spirit Award and enjoyed participating in musical productions. She was yearbook editor, SCA Social Club president, a cheerleader for six years, and member of National Beta Club, Quill and Scroll and Mu Alpha Theta. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame and received Presidential and Music scholarships to The University of Alabama.
The queen represented Lowndes County as 2016 Distinguished Young Woman of the Year and performed with The Columbus Girlchoir at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2018. She is a member of Main Street Presbyterian Church and was presented at the 2018 White and Gold Ball by the Southern Debutante Assembly.
A magna cum laude graduate from The University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in music education, Reed was active in the Chamber Choir, Women’s Chorus and University Singers. She served as campus treasurer for the Alabama Choral Directors Association and secretary for the Collegiate National Association for Music Education. While student teaching at Tuscaloosa County High School, she directed the Wildcat Choir, an adaptive choir for students with disabilities.
Reed is pursuing a Master of Music degree at The University of Mississippi and aspires to be an elementary school music educator.
The queen volunteered with the Mayor’s Youth Council, at the Habitat for Humanity Resale Store, and as Mother Goose’s assistant at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library Story Hour. She combined her love of singing and service as a St. Jude Half-Marathon Hero in 2015 by recording an album, “Holy Ground,” and donating $16,500 in fundraiser proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
In recognition of her service, she received the Mississippi Governor’s Initiative Volunteer Honorable Mention Award, Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award, and Heritage Academy Excellence in Service Award for over 600 volunteer hours.
Reed was a Camp Rising Sun counselor for three years, including virtual camp during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a Chi Omega, she volunteered with Boys and Girls Clubs of West Alabama and Make-A-Wish Foundation. She raised funds for Children’s Hospital of Alabama and was a counselor at Camp DeSoto in Mentone, Alabama.
Reed served as an international volunteer in Greece in 2021 through LeadAbroad with The NO Project which increases youth awareness of human trafficking.
A member of the 2017 Charity Ball Court, Reed is the granddaughter of Mr. Nicholas Edward Hairston Jr. and the late Mrs. Hairston, Dr. and Mrs. John Eugene Reed Jr. of Columbus, and Mrs. Robert Dewey Knight and the late Mr. Knight of Oxford. Her mother is a life member and past president of Junior Auxiliary of Columbus and was queen of the 1996 ball. Her grandfather, Dr. Reed, was Charity Ball king in 2013, and her brothers were both pages to former royalty.
King Taylor Byrd Smith, son of the late William Taylor and Undine Byrd Smith, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Booneville, Mississippi.
He graduated in 1956 from Booneville High School where he was an All-Conference football player. After high school graduation, he joined the United States Marine Corps. After a tour of duty, he entered Mississippi State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree cum laude in political science and history. While a student at Mississippi State, he was a member of the Student Senate and served on the Constitution Committee. He was a member of the Committee of 82 and a member and rush chairman of his social fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau.
After college, he entered law school at the University of Mississippi, earning a J. D. degree in 1964. In law school, he served on the staff and was articles editor for the Mississippi Law Journal. He also served as vice-president of the law school and was a member of Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity.
Taylor began the practice of law in Columbus on Sept. 1, 1964, with the law firm of Threadgill & Hicks, later known as Threadgill, Hicks & Smith and after a merger with a Tupelo law firm became Mitchell, McNutt, Threadgill, Smith & Sams. His practice included defense litigation, medical malpractice defense and labor and employment law. In 2000, Taylor joined The Kullman Firm, a labor and employment law firm based in New Orleans with offices across the country. The Kullman Firm opened a Columbus office from which Taylor dedicated his practice to labor and employment matters representing clients in several industries. Taylor was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Courts of Appeal for the 5h and 11th Circuits and multiple other courts in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Iowa. Taylor retired from the practice of law in July 2020 after having practiced for 56 years.
Taylor was recognized by many organizations throughout his law career for excellence in the practice of law including being named a Mid-South Super Lawyer, listed in Best Lawyers in America and recognized as a star individual in Chambers & Partners listing of top business lawyers in the nation. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an organization limited to 1 percent of the trial lawyers in any state. In recent ranking from Chambers & Partners, Smith was ranked as one of only two labor and employment attorneys meriting the “star individual” ranking in the state of Mississippi.
Mississippi Business Journal recognized Taylor as one of “Mississippi’s Leading Attorneys.”
Locally, Taylor serves as chairman of the Board of Loaves & Fishes Community Soup Kitchen. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce. He served on the Heritage Academy School Board, was a member of Columbus Lions Club, and is a member of the Masonic Rite in which he has received the 32nd Degree of the Scottish Rite.
Taylor is very involved at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where he is serving his second term on the Vestry and is a Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM). He has served his church in roles such as chairman of the School Board, adult Sunday School teacher, clerk of the Vestry, acolyte trainer, and delegate to the annual council. Bishop Duncan M. Gray Jr. approved Taylor as a “Lay Preacher” in the Episcopal Church of Mississippi.
Taylor, in connection with the Episcopal Church of Mississippi, entered the diaconate program and was assigned as a pastoral assistant to All Saints Episcopal Church in Tupelo. While serving there, he also served as chaplain at Sanctuary Hospice House. In his service at All Saints, he became involved with a program to feed the homeless. He determined after consultation with local church leaders that there was a need to begin a similar service in Columbus. For his work in launching Loaves & Fishes Community Soup Kitchen, Taylor was awarded the Martin Luther King Day Service Volunteer Award.
Taylor has been married for 55 years to Nancy Grissom Smith, a life member of Junior Auxiliary of Columbus. He is the father of Anne-Taylor Smith Fones, who served as the 2001 Pilgrimage Ball (Charity Ball) Queen and was a member of the 1995 Pilgrimage Ball (Charity Ball) Court. He is the grandfather of Katherine Taylor Fones and Caroline Virginia Fones and father-in-law to Matt Fones.
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