The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Repository: McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi
Creator: B. O. Van Hook
Collection Number: M441
Title: Benjamin O. Van Hook Papers
Dates: circa 1893-1988
Quantity: .8 cubic feet
Abstract: A collection of materials relating to the life and work of B. O. Van Hook, former math instructor and golf coach at The University of Southern Mississippi.
Benjamin Ormond “B. O.” Van Hook was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, on November 15, 1899, the son of Rev. and Mrs. Henry W. Van Hook. He graduated from Seashore Campground High School in Biloxi, in 1915. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1918 from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, and his Master of Arts degree in 1922 from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He completed all the requirements for a Ph.D at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, except his dissertation.
Throughout his professional career, Van Hook held many different positions. From 1921-1923 he taught math at Vanderbilt University. He was professor of mathematics and coach at Seashore Campground School in Biloxi from 1923 – 1925, and math teacher, Athletic Director and Football and Basketball Coach at Millsaps College from 1925 – 1945. Between 1948 and 1950 he was on active duty with the U. S. Maritime Service, and was discharged with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. During his term of service, he was professor mathematics and physics at the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy, Pass Christian, Mississippi. In 1950 he joined the faculty of Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi), as an assistant professor of mathematics, and during his tenure, he served twice as Head of the Mathematics Department. He was selected Professor of the Year in 1969, which was also his final year at USM. Following his retirement he served as a Lecturer at Mobile College in Mobile, Alabama (1969 – 1974).
Van Hook began coaching the golf team on a volunteer basis in 1951, and continued doing so for 19 seasons. In 1951 USM only had a nine-hole golf course. Consequently, President William D. McCain asked Van Hook to design and construct an 18-hole course on the College Farm, just west of campus. The sale of timber from the location paid for the course, which opened in 1959. On November 28, 1981, the facility was officially named the Benjamin Ormond Van Hook Golf Course in honor of the man who designed and built it. Sadly, Van Hook Golf Course was closed permanently on March 31, 2004, due to lack of usage and persistent financial problems. A commercialization park will be built on the property.
During his coaching career, Van Hook established the University of Southern Mississippi Invitational Golf Tournament in 1966, which was renamed the B. O. Van Hook Invitational in 1969. A passionate, devoted golfer himself, Van Hook is known to have made at least three holes in one in his career.
Van Hook was active in a number of organizations. He was involved with the formation of the Mississippi Seniors Golf Association, and served as its president in 1954. He was a member of Kappa Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Delta Kappa, Pi Mu Epsilon, and the American Mathematical Society. He was also a Mason, a Rotarian, a Life-Time Honorary Member of the Mississippi Sports Writers Association, and a member of Main Street Methodist Church. Among the honors bestowed on him were induction into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, the Sports Hall of Fame at Millsaps College, and the USM Sports Hall of Fame.
B. O. Van Hook died June 11, 1988, at the age of 88, following a lengthy illness. He is interred in Roseland Park Cemetery, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Contents of the Collection
This collection consists of materials pertaining to the personal and professional activities of Benjamin Ormond Van Hook, who served as a professor of mathematics and golf coach at the University of Southern Mississippi from 1950 – 1969. Items in the collection include biographical documents, correspondence, congratulatory letters, newsclippings, photographs, certificates, a scrapbook, and a variety of other items.
Correspondence in the collection includes congratulatory letters for Van Hook’s induction into the Sports Hall of Fame, Millsaps College Hall of Fame, and USM Hall of Fame, plus letters and cards regarding his death.
Newspaper clippings in the collection include articles related to Van Hook’s accomplishments in connection with the USM Golf Team, his retirement, and awards.
The scrapbook contains a wealth of information about Mr. Van Hook and his accomplishments, while photographs in the collection primarily portray his activities as an instructor and coach at USM.
This collection should be of interest to anyone researching the history of USM, especially in the area of golf.
Benjamin Ormond Van Hook
Immediate Source of Acquisition:
Donated by Mae Van Hook, wife of Benjamin O. Van Hook, on July 1, 1988.
Restrictions Governing Access:
No restrictions. Open for research.
This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).
Preferred Citation Method:
Item, Title of Collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi.
Language of Materials:
Processed by Jill Kochom
RG 4 Faculty/Staff Biographies
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