Susan Barksdale Howorth of Oxford had decided to pursue a master's degree in art when her life was cut short. Her great interests and passions in both creating art and providing educational opportunities for others will live on through University of Mississippi students who receive scholarships in her name.
The Susan Barksdale Howorth Council Scholarship Endowment has been created under the umbrella of the Ole Miss Women's Council for Philanthropy (OMWC). The $100,000 fund was created by a gift from her husband, Circuit Court Judge Andrew K. Howorth of Oxford, as well as memorials from family and friends. First preference for the scholarship awards will be given to art majors.
"Susan had a thirst for knowledge," Howorth said. "She would consume the written word without limitations. She attended law school for the academic enterprise, not for the profession. She loved to explore and experiment with art, but she was somewhat self-conscious about her artwork. She was naturally gifted with watercolors, moved on to other mediums and had made the decision to pursue a master's in fine art.
"Susan came from a family with a very strong commitment to education. I think she would be pleased with this scholarship, and she would want to make art education more accessible," he said.
Howorth, 44, a graduate of the Ole Miss School of Law, died in February. A self-taught artist, she worked in ceramics, pottery and painting. She was also a talented decorator and collector of art, photography and antiques. In the late 1990s, she opened the Barksdale-Isom House, a historic antebellum bed and breakfast just off the Oxford Square that she lovingly restored.
As a voracious reader and bibliophile, she was dedicated to supporting writers and booklovers who frequently gather in Oxford. In addition to the OMWC, she was an avid supporter of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College named in honor of her late mother. After her mother passed away, Howorth took her place on the OMWC and joined with her siblings, Betsy Barksdale Pokorny and David Barksdale, to fund an OMWC scholarship in memory of Sally McDonnell Barksdale.
When interviewed at the time of the scholarship's creation, Susan Howorth said, "Both of my parents taught us at early ages that giving starts in small steps. If you learn early that philanthropy is really just the ability to give a part of your time, worth, energy and effort, then you realize how large or small your gift is doesn't really matter-it's the act of giving that is important."
Howorth's larger-than-life personality, irrepressible sense of humor and unmistakable laugh will be missed, along with her connections with people. Her untold number of small, anonymous kindnesses will never be forgotten by their beneficiaries, said family and friends.
OMWC Chair Mary Ann Frugé of Oxford said the scholarship is a tribute to Howorth's life.
"Susan's love for art was expressed in many ways from her magical sense of color, her combining different mediums to create stunning presentations and the ease with which she shared beauty," she said. "Providing this scholarship carries forward in a concrete way Susan's belief in the importance of the positive ways art contributes to life as well as to the values symbolized by the OMWC scholarship.
"The Ole Miss Women's Council for Philanthropy is deeply grateful to Judge Andrew Howorth and family members for the designation of memorials for Susan to be directed to the Ole Miss Women's Council for Philanthropy and for Andy's commitment to fully endow the scholarship," Frugé said.
"This scholarship will provide financial assistance, leadership development and mentoring by professional staff and a person in the field of study of the recipients," she continued. "The OMWC is fortunate that Susan Howorth was an early member of the Ole Miss Women's Council who embraced the values of our philanthropic group. Her contributions both as a member of the council and now as one whose scholarship carries her name forever leaves a mark on the University of Mississippi and reflects her commitment to education, excellence, and her caring and generous spirit."
Susan was the daughter of Jim Barksdale and the late Sally Barksdale. She earned an undergraduate degree from George Washington University and worked for U.S. Sen. Al Gore in Washington, D.C. During law school, she decided to make her permanent home in Oxford, where she met and married her husband. She focused her energies on being a dedicated wife and mother to children Marian and Stewart Howorth of Oxford.
"Susan loved law school at Ole Miss and made a lot of friends," Howorth said. "It was her parents' university, and there is a lot of family history here."
The Susan Barksdale Howorth Council Scholarship is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, mail a check with the fund noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; contact Sarah Hollis, associate director of development, at 662-915-1584 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.