Mary Louise Rosenbush is a cheerful giver, especially knowing that her major gift to the University of Mississippi will support students who share her values: humble beginnings, hard work and higher education.
“I’ve been very blessed in my life, very blessed. And it’s my pleasure to make this gift,” said Rosenbush, a 1954 Ole Miss graduate. “I just pray that it can be used for people who are unable to afford college.”
Tom Boggs, longtime friend and attorney for Rosenbush and her late husband, Bert, said Rosenbush needed to donate $100,000 to a charity for tax purposes. He suggested making a gift to Ole Miss.
“She said, ‘That’s a good idea,’” Boggs recalled, adding that a discussion about Mrs. Rosenbush’s interests in education with individuals at the UM Foundation led to designating the gift for underrepresented students.
Boggs then wrote Rosenbush a letter containing the details of the Grove Scholars program to which she replied, “Give them $25,000 more.”
The Demopolis, Alabama, resident’s $125,000 gift establishes the Mary Louise Bell Rosenbush and Bert Rosenbush, Jr. Grove Scholars Endowment, which will support eligible students from Mississippi with a family income of less than $40,000.
The Grove Scholars program blends academic excellence with career exploration, research experience and the promotion of personal growth and comradery among qualifying students.
“The generosity of Mrs. Rosenbush is truly inspiring,” said Gray Flora IV, director of the UM Grove Scholars program. “I am convinced that the only way to truly thank someone so kind is to ensure that her gift is efficiently used to target the needs of our scholars, many of whom will be the first in their family to graduate college, as they diligently work toward a life-changing STEM or health professions degree from our institution.”
A diligent worker herself, Rosenbush graduated from Ole Miss with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. The Marks, Mississippi, native then earned a master’s degree in religious education with an emphasis on student affairs, guidance and counseling from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
She subsequently taught public school in Mississippi and Texas before being hired as director of women’s housing at the University of Alabama in 1966. She was soon promoted to director of residence halls and then, in 1969, to assistant dean for student development.
Rosenbush also served as second vice president of the Alabama Association of Women Deans and Counselors and as the state of Alabama’s liaison officer for the National Association of Women Deans and Counselors.
She was a member of the Pilot Club of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and Kappa Delta Pi honorary education fraternity.
Today, Rosenbush is a resident of Marengo Nursing Home in Linden, Alabama, where at age 90 she continues to regale friends with her exceptional piano talent whenever possible.
In June 2023, Rosenbush donated two pieces to the small collection of Theora Hamblett paintings that adorn the walls of historic Brandt Memory House, home to the UM Foundation on the Oxford campus.
World-renowned, Hamblett’s work has been offered at auction multiple times, with realized prices ranging from $1,500 to more than $67,000, depending on the size and medium of the artwork.
Rosenbush addressed Hamblett affectionately as “aunt,” though the two were second cousins.
The Mary Louise Bell Rosenbush and Bert Rosenbush, Jr. Grove Scholars Endowment is open to support from businesses and individuals. Gifts can be made by sending a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or by giving online at https://give.olemiss.edu.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation