(OXFORD, Miss.) – When students lose their lives while enrolled at Ole Miss, it leaves a hole in the hearts of family, friends, classmates, faculty and staff.
To honor those students who have died, two UM senior classes, administrators, alumni and friends donated funds to create the Ole Miss Memory Garden adjacent to Paris-Yates Chapel on campus. The recently completed landscaped courtyard is the brainchild of the Class of 2006 and Dean of Students Sparky Reardon.
“Ole Miss is such a family-oriented place that when we lose one student, everyone is affected,” Reardon said. “The garden will provide a place where any member of the Ole Miss family may go to remember the lives of those who have gone before.”
There was interest in the proposed Memory Garden project when it was started in 2006 but it saw a series of fits and starts. When Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat got involved and asked Jimmy Hill from Ripley and the rest of the Tippah County Alumni Club to help, that’s when things really started to move.
Khayat proposed the Tippah County group help fund the Memory Garden complete with an eternal flame, fountain and a marble wall inscribed with the words “To Our Hearts Fond Memories” from UM’s alma mater. Khayat’s friend, Bobby Martin, chairman of the board and president of The People’s Bank, promised the club $10,000 for the project if the Tippah County Alumni Club would match the funds.
The challenge was met and money was raised, but the initial price of the proposed garden was more than expected.
“There were other things on the griddle, and this got shoved to the back of the stove,” Hill said. “But, it’s on the front burner now.”
Jennifer Southall, UM’s director of annual giving, helped advise the Class of 2006 on its fund-raising efforts.
“It’s good to see this project finally completed, and we are grateful to Mr. Hill and the Tippah County Alumni Club members for their support. Arabella Montgomery and Maureen Shorter, the 2006 class officers, worked really hard to get this project off the ground, and I know they – along with many others who contributed along the way – will be pleased that we now have a dedicated area on campus to remember members of the Ole Miss family.”
The Senior Class of 2011 recently donated four benches to the garden and the current project is complete. When more funds are donated, the remainder of the proposed elements in the original plan can be added to the present garden.
Individuals and organizations interested in supporting the Memory Garden may contact Jennifer Southall at 662-915-6625 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Gifts also may be made by mailing a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655 with Memory Garden noted or by visiting www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.