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Estate Gift to Benefit Law Students, Pay Tribute to Bell
Law students, from left, TreMarcus Roseman, Catherine Norton and Allison Bruff deliver a presentation at the School of Law.

University of Mississippi School of Law students will benefit from a new scholarship made possible by a planned gift that the late alumna Barbara Bell designated in memory of her husband, Thomas A. “Tommy” Bell.

Bell’s estate gift of $546,000 establishes the Thomas A. Bell Scholarship Endowment to provide assistance to those pursuing careers in the legal field.

“Law schools across the country are providing more scholarships than ever before,” said Suzette Matthews, senior director of development for the Law School. “The funds from this contribution will allow our law school to remain competitive in that regard.”

Bell’s gift is intended to honor in perpetuity her late husband, Tommy, who was a founding partner and president of Daniel Coker Horton & Bell, P.A. in Jackson, Mississippi, and a UM law alumnus.

“The School of Law greatly appreciates Barbara Bell’s estate gift,” said Susan Duncan, dean of the School of Law. “Mrs. Bell’s gift will support deserving students while honoring one of our most accomplished alumni.”

The endowment bearing Bell’s name will fund an academic scholarship that will provide support to entering students who have demonstrated need as determined by the Office of Financial Aid. The School of Law Scholarship Committee will then select eligible recipients and notify them upon admittance to the school.

Selected students may retain the scholarship as long as they are enrolled in 12 hours in the fall and spring semesters or five hours in the summer semester and maintain a minimum cumulative 2.8 GPA.

Barbara Bell earned a bachelor’s degree in education from UM in 1948. During her time at Ole Miss, she was a member of Chi Omega sorority. She passed away in June 2017.

Following graduation and her marriage to Tommy Bell, she and her husband moved to Oxford, Mississippi, where she was a teacher at Oxford High School. The couple relocated to Jackson in 1963.

Tommy Bell was a member of the Hinds County, Mississippi State, Federal and American Bar associations, and served on the board of Bar Commissioners. In addition, he taught in the Jackson School of Law, now the Mississippi College School of Law, for 14 years.

The Grenada, Mississippi, native was a B-17 pilot in World War II, serving in the European Theater. He was recalled during the Korean War and served in the U.S. Army JAG Corps. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1969 as a lieutenant colonel.

Active members of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, the Barbara Bell taught Sunday School and served on the wedding and visitation committees. She also was honored with the award, “The Value of a Life Well Lived.” Tommy Bell was chairman of the board of deacons at the time of his death in 1990.

In addition to work with her church, Bell was a member of the Symphony League, the Rebecca Cravat chapter of the Daughters of the America Revolution, the National Society of Southern Dames, the One O’clock Luncheon Club and Chi Omega Wise Owls. She served as president of the Salvation Army Auxiliary, Pierian Literacy Club and Hinds County Lawyers’ Wives.

The Thomas A. Bell Scholarship Endowment accepts gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, mail a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the scholarship’s name in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or online at

To support the law school, contact Suzette Matthews, development officer, at or 662-915-1122.

For information on including the university in estate planning, contact Byron Liles at or 662-915-7601.

By Caitlyn Clegg


Online gifts for the 2024 calendar year should be made no later than noon on December 31, 2024.  Checks by mail will need to be postmarked by December 31 to be counted in the 2024 calendar year.