On December 6, 2006, three new members were inducted into the Mississippi Realtor Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Association of Realtors’ (MAR) highest honor. The newest inductees are Bob Ridgway, CCIM, Carlene Alfonso, CRB, CRS, and Tommy Morgan.
The criteria for induction is stringent. Established in 1994, the Mississippi Realtor Hall of Fame has only 36 members counting these latest inductees. The honor recognizes both leadership and longevity, as prospective honorees must have a minimum of 20 years’ experience and must be industry leaders in their communities among other requirements.
A selection committee, a five-member body that must consist of at least two MAR past-presidents, chooses the inductees, who may be living or deceased. A maximum of three Realtors may be inducted each year by the MAR, which represents more than 6,000 residential and commercial real estate professionals statewide.
Though Carlene Alfonso was unable to attend the induction ceremony, which was part of the MAR Convention & EXPO held in Vicksburg, her long list of contributions to the MAR and the real estate profession in Mississippi represented her well.
Alfonso, who is a former honoree of the 50 Leading Business Women program, is described as the epitome of what every real estate agent should aspire to be. Proud of her profession, she gives freely of her time and talents to promote the image and professionalism of the real estate industry in her community as well as the state and nation.
A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where she earned a bachelor’s degree in city planning, Alfonso is past-president of the Gulf Coast Association of Realtors and MAR, multi-year recipient of the Mississippi Realtor Institute’s Instructor of the Year Award and past-chair of MAR’s professional standards, education and legislative committees.
Active locally, Alfonso is past-president of the Pass Christian Chamber of Commerce, and has served on the boards of the Humane Society of South Mississippi, Association of Retarded Citizens and Gulf Coast Community Foundation.
Alfonso entered the real estate field with her father and has never worked for another firm. She has been a Realtor since 1975, and a broker since 1978. Under her leadership, Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty Inc. has grown from a “mom-and-pop” three-person organization to the largest full-service real estate company on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The agency has offices in Biloxi/Gulfport, Orange Grove/Pass Christian, Ocean Springs and Bay St. Louis/Waveland.
Alfonso wrote, when picked as one of the 50 Leading Business Women, “Choose an area you have a passion for and learn everything about it. Don’t be afraid of becoming involved or taking a chance if you know you are correct.”
While induction into the Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor, Tommy Morgan made it clear that he was far from finished with his career.
“People ask me all the time when I’m going to retire,” Morgan said. “I tell them I’m already retired. I really enjoy my job. It’s not like work. So, in a way I’m already retired.”
Morgan grew up in Northeast Mississippi where his father owned a service station in Baldwyn. Interestingly, he went on to Northeast Mississippi Community College where he studied not business, but art. He would later in life take architectural and mechanical drawing classes, and said the creative side of the real estate business — going from floor plan to a finished structure — is what attracted and kept him in the industry.
Morgan served in U.S. Army, including active duty in Vietnam, and eventually settled in Tupelo. His landlords at the time needed an appraiser, and tapped Morgan. He enjoyed appraising, but it did not pay well.
“I got into sales to keep from starving to death,” Morgan quipped. “I was working against a draw, and I realized that I had to change to sales if I was going to make any money.”
Morgan found he had the people skills required and saw immediate success. Today, Coldwell Banker-Tommy Morgan Inc. is a full-service residential and commercial real estate firm that employs 41 agents and does business all over Northeast Mississippi.
Over that time, Morgan has contributed to his profession in numerous ways, including the design and creation of more than 40 residential, commercial and multi-family developments. He has served on various committees within the Realtor organization and his community.
Morgan is a past-president of the Northeast Mississippi Board of Realtors, RPC chair and Realtor of the Year. At the state level, he is a past-president of the Mississippi Commercial Association of Realtors, MAR board director and Realtors Land Institute (RLI) state president. Morgan also served as a national RLI director and course instructor.
In his local community, Morgan has been active in the Civic Club, Community Development Foundation and Sanctuary Hospice House.
During more than 30 years of involvement with the MAR, Bob Ridgway has demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and leadership. He has been instrumental in the development of commercial real estate education and programming for MAR members statewide, and played an integral role in the development and establishment of the Mississippi Commercial Association of Realtors as well as the Mississippi chapter of Certified Commercial Investment Members (CCIM).
Ridgway’s participation has been critical to the success of these organizations, and his encouragement of real estate professionals has been important in helping many of them succeed in their commercial real estate careers.
Ridgway served as MAR president in 1984, and has been a MARPAC (political action committee) “Sterling R” contributor for more than a decade, running and chairing the MARPAC trustees and serving on numerous committees. In 2006, he was listed as an extraordinary MARPAC contributor.
He also currently serves on the board of directors of the Mississippi Realtor Hurricane Relief Fund and is a former president of the Jackson Association of Realtors.
Ridgway’s list of activities and accomplishments outside the Realtor organization is just as impressive. From the YMCA board of directors to various leadership posts at Galloway United Methodist Church and as Rotary Club president, the Eagle Scout is known throughout the community as a giver who is generous with his time and commitments.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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