The lives of Mississippi’s future foodies and Latin students were sealed on President’s Day in the early 1980’s.
That’s the day Millsaps student Jeff Good knocked on the first floor Bacot window of Debbie McGregor and presented her with a George Washington stamp he bought at the student union. Debbie thought it endearing enough that she eventually started dating him. And like the stamp, they stuck.
Their initial introduction, however, was about a year prior.
“I first met Debbie in a zoology class our freshman year at Millsaps, but I did so poorly that year the dean of students sent me home,” said Good.
That dean of students was Stuart Good, Jeff’s father. The Good’s had relocated to Mississippi a few years earlier from Utah, where the senior Good was dean at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.
“Whatever success I’ve had in life did not present itself during my first year at Millsaps,” said Good. “But after getting the lowest score in zoology class and living at home on academic probation for a semester, I took my return to Millsaps pretty seriously,” added Good, who ended up with straight A’s in the school of business where he graduated with a bachelor of business administration in 1986.
It was from her American history teacher at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, Tenn., that Debbie McGregor Good first heard of Millsaps. “I fell in love with the college on my first visit,” said Debbie. “My roommate was also from Memphis and I knew other girls from my hometown, so it was a perfect fit.”
Debbie joined the Kappa Delta Sorority and majored in classics. “I took my share of Latin, Greek and culture courses which were taught by amazing faculty,” said Debbie. “In fact, I still visit with Dr. Catherine Freis a couple times a year.”
Jeff and Debbie married after graduation, and Jeff worked in computer sales with the NCR Corporation while Debbie taught Latin at Jackson’s Callaway High School. Jeff put his Millsaps degree to good use and, together with his best friend from high school Dan Blumenthal, raised every penny needed to open their first restaurant, BRAVO!, in 1994. “There wasn’t GoFundMe back then,” said Jeff. “We got in the trenches, found people who believed in us and used hand-to-hand combat to realize our dream.”
Fast forward a few decades, Jeff is president of Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group, which owns and operates BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar, Broad Street Baking Company and Sal & Mookie’s New York Pizza & Ice Cream Joint, all located in Jackson. He’s the founding Chairman of the non-profit Refill Jackson Initiative, a workforce training program designed to empower young adults so that they are more confident, better equipped and motivated to enter into, navigate and stay in the workforce. Debbie taught Latin at the high school level for three decades, and is now an adjunct classics professor at Mississippi College. Together they raised twin girls Alexandra and Caroline.
Debbie also currently serves the college as president of its alumni association, a board on which she has served for two years. “It’s too easy for alumni to become removed from their alma mater,” says Debbie. “Millsaps needs people to be engaged. To get involved. To come back and to come home.”
Debbie was home recently for Millsaps’ Homecoming, and is excited about the college’s largest first-year class in nearly a decade. “It’s vital to our city and state that Millsaps thrive,” says Debbie. “I’m honored to serve the college in this way, and look forward to building on our current momentum.”
“I’m proud of Debbie for paying it forward,” adds Jeff. “We all need to remember where we came from. We need to show up and show out for Millsaps. That’s how we will ensure the same experience we received will be received by others.”
Both Good’s credit much of their individual and combined success to the profound impact Millsaps College had on their lives.
“Millsaps does an excellent job of teaching its students one of the most valuable skills – the ability to think critically,” said Jeff. “Through Millsaps I found my place, my passion, my talent, my first job and my wife.”