OXFORD, Miss. – Mitzi Whittington fondly remembers her childhood best friend Morris George – his bright red hair and freckles, his love of learning and their good-natured competition for grades at Coffeeville High School in their hometown.

Now, thanks to a scholarship Whittington and her husband, Lynn, have created in his name at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Morris George won’t be forgotten.

George, an emergency room doctor in Memphis, died in January 2007 due to complications from Type 1 diabetes. His legacy is ensured through the Dr. Morris George Jr. Memorial Scholarship, established with a $25,000 gift from the Whittingtons of Montgomery, Ala.

"We wanted to do something to memorialize him," Whittington said. "Morris was always going, really brilliant, very smart. He had a passion for learning, and I think he would be honored to know there is a scholarship in his name."

George and the Whittington couple are all Ole Miss alumni.

"We also thought this was a good way to support the university … and a good way to help students from Mississippi," Whittington said.

George graduated from Ole Miss in 1978 with a degree in music. He earned a Taylor Medal, the university’s highest academic award. He later received a medical degree from the UM Medical Center in Jackson. An accomplished pianist, he played the piano in the Whittingtons’ wedding.

"I knew Morris all my life," Whittington said. "He was my best friend and is dearly missed."

Recipients of the Dr. Morris George Jr. Memorial Scholarship are to be full-time incoming freshmen at UM, with first preference given to residents of Grenada and Yalobusha counties.

The Whittingtons’ gift is part of the university’s MomentUM campaign, a four-year initiative to raise $200 million. The campaign, which ends in December 2008, already has raised more than $180 million for scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty support, a basketball practice facility, residential colleges and a new law school on the Oxford campus. Also in the plan is a cancer center at the UM Medical Center in Jackson.

For more information about the UM Foundation, go to
http://www.umfoundation.com.

To make a donation to the Dr. Morris George Jr. Memorial Scholarship, contact Cody Giles at 662-915-6967 or wcgiles@olemiss.edu.

Momentum 

by Sonia Thompson