With a gift to the University of Mississippi, Lee Anne and William N. Fry IV are honoring the memory of their “bright and energetic” niece while helping other students experience her beloved Ole Miss.
Like many young people, the late Sarah Elizabeth Taylor grew up sharing her family’s love for the university and cheering on the “Red and Blue.” The Brookhaven, Mississippi, native passed away in 2008 at the age of 20.
“Sarah was a young lady who was going to go places in this world,” said Bill Fry, an urban administration graduate of Ole Miss who also earned a master’s degree from Harvard Business School.
“We are establishing this scholarship primarily to honor our niece, and secondly to give someone a chance to be able to attend a great university without worrying about having so much debt while getting a terrific education,” said Fry, who resides in New York City and Oxford, Mississippi.
“In today’s world, the way to get ahead in life is through education and a strong work ethic. If a student wants an education and will work hard to earn it – and some financial support helps them to do that – this scholarship will help ease their burdens.”
Fry’s sister, Angela Taylor – who attended the university as did her son, Wesley M. Taylor and his wife, Elizabeth – said her daughter was a great athlete who loved a variety of sports and was a regular participant at basketball and tennis camps hosted by Ole Miss.
“Sarah loved to play tennis and she had a great backhand that would scare anyone,” Taylor said. “She played with my adult tennis team through USTA and all my friends loved being around her. Her spirit and competitive ways won the hearts of all the people she played with.”
Sarah Taylor was named the Mississippi Private School Association State Champion in Mixed Doubles and also in Girls Doubles during the 2007-2008 season. Her athletic ability earned her a full scholarship to Copiah-Lincoln Community College, where she played at the No. 1 spot in singles.
“Not only was Sarah a good athlete but she wanted to be a psychologist or go into therapy to help other people. You would have loved her if you had spent any time with her,” Taylor said.
“This scholarship means everything to me, and it’s such an honor for someone to get a scholarship in her memory. I know Sarah would be looking down on this and smiling. She would be so happy to help special individuals attend Ole Miss and be successful.”
Sarah Taylor kept many journals of her thoughts from childhood into her young adult life; these have comforted Taylor in the time since her daughter’s passing. A deep thinker who could write like a journalist, she was full of personality and loved to laugh.
It’s likely she would have a specific message of faith and perseverance for future recipients of the Sarah Elizabeth Taylor Memorial Scholarship.
“The message my Sarah would give to those who receive this scholarship is to always be true to God and turn on those right roads because going down the wrong ones is not worth it,” Taylor said. “She’d also encourage them to always follow their dreams and never give up when things get tough, remembering that tomorrow is a new day to do great things in this life.
“Study hard and make a difference because it only takes one person to change a life or situation,” Taylor said, continuing her daughter’s message. “And, of course, love the Red and Blue – the Ole Miss spirit – because it is an honor to go and make something of your life.”
Fry said his family’s love for Ole Miss goes back 40-plus years.
“Some of our best memories are from times spent with people and friends we met there.”
First preference for the Sarah Elizabeth Taylor Memorial Scholarship will be given to students from the Brookhaven area. Anyone may contribute to the scholarship endowment by mailing a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund noted in the check’s memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or visiting online at https://give.olemiss.edu.
To learn more about establishing a scholarship endowment, contact Denson Hollis, executive director of development, at 662-915-5092 of firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mary Stanton Knight