Ernest R. Duff

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Ernest R. Duff was a prominent lawyer, entrepreneur, and community leader.

He was born on June 2, 1931, in Covington County, Mississippi. While a senior at Columbia High School, he was chosen as president of the National Youth Red Cross. He also served as student body president.

While attending Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) he was elected president of the student body. He was later inducted into the Ole Miss student Hall of Fame. He graduated from the Ole Miss Law School and worked as attorney for the City of Columbia for thirty-two years. He was also attorney for Marion County for thirty-six years, and attorney for Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association for fifty-three years. He served on the board of directors of Trustmark Bank for twenty-eight years.

Mr. Ernest, as he was called, had a knack for seeing a need and filling it. While serving as an attorney for Georgia Pacific in Columbia he saw that the company needed someone to haul wood chips and he started Forest Products Transports. The trucks needed tires so he started Southern Tire Mart, which became the largest commercial tire dealer in North America.

Southern Tire Mart led to the formation of Duff Capital Investors which comprises more than twenty various businesses employing over 10,000 people with total revenues exceeding $ 2.2 billion. Duff Capital Investors is the second largest business in Mississippi which includes KLLM Transport Services of Jackson.

Mr. Ernest’s sons Thomas and Jim Duff made a $1 million gift to pay tribute to their father’s life and to support the university’s new Flagship Constellations initiative – multidisciplinary teams composed of faculty, staff and students from the university’s Oxford and Medical Center campuses seeking significant, innovative solutions to complex issues.

Duff passed away on May 27, 2016. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as bishop of the Oak Grove Ward.