In our continuing series leading up to Zippity Doo Dah®, we introduce you to another of Fondren’s movers and shakers…

“You mean the guy with the bow tie?” Yes, that’s J. David Waugh and Fondren’s resident sharp dresser who says it’s the many bow ties – and many hats – he wears that keep him happy.

The 63 year old North Carolina native is the president of the Fondren Association of Businesses (Fab) and a part time fashion model. Well, not really, but the bow tie does have a story. “I was asked to participate in a fashion show last year”, he says, “and one of my outfits had a bow tie. I’d always wanted to wear one but had been too afraid to try it. Now, it’s just seems right.”

He’s also good at modeling a box full of hats: from pastor to recruiter to business promoter – and now real estate investor, Waugh isn’t letting up though he moved to Mississippi to retire. And for love.

After divinity school in Louisville, Kentucky, Waugh pastored churches in Vermont, Rhode Island and New York City, the latter in one of the roughest neighborhoods there, Hell’s Kitchen. While still in the Big Apple, Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi and Waugh volunteered for a disaster relief mission. “I had an intern at the time who had a friend in Jackson,” he tells us. “When we came here, she said, ‘You two would be perfect for each other’.” Waugh was having none of it but the friend insisted. He met his wife, Jane Sanders, owner of Professional Staffing Group (PSG). With her role cemented here, Waugh moved to Mississippi for what he calls a “classical falling in love.” 

And he hasn’t let up since. Recently cutting himself back to ten hours a week at PSG where he is an executive recruiter, Waugh has bought some local real estate to manage and he still preaches – for a small church in Gluckstadt called Madison Chapel. He began working with the former Fondren Merchants Association to become president of what is now the Fondren Association of Businesses. “I’m doing as much now as I did when I retired,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m going to retire – no I’m not.” In a perfect world, he’d spend six months of the year at his house off the coast of Belize on the island of Caye Cauker. “I’ll get down there for a few weeks soon,” he says. 

Waugh’s involvement with this year’s Zippity Doo Dah® has been ‘minimal.’ “I am doing what they ask me to do, basically.” But what they are asking him to do helps in a big way: getting businesses on board and getting them excited. Call him ZDD’s resident ‘hype man’. “I’m just encouraging them to increase their involvement.”

And increase their profile. Waugh says it’s events like this that continue to get the message out about Fondren. “Suburban plazas try to copy community,” he says, “but we are community.”

Waugh loves how diverse and exciting Fondren has become. “I love what I do and have spent my life promoting diversity and encouraging others. I love to give people opportunities.” And that’s his message: “Come to Fondren. Zippity Doo Dah’s your opportunity.” zddcomm