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Ole Miss Family Says Goodbye to Former First Lady

Margaret Mason Denton Khayat, the wife of former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, died Monday surrounded by her family.

She was 78 years old.

Born to Ira and Margaret Denton of Memphis, she attended Ole Miss after graduating from Hutchison School. It was at Ole Miss during her freshman year where she met Robert while he was a senior and an Ole Miss football player. She was a member of the Chi Omega Sorority.

Maragaret and Robert Kyahat. Photo via UM Foundation.

They were married in 1962 and lived in Washington, D.C., and Moss Point, Mississippi, before settling in Oxford, where she was active in her children’s lives, friendships, her church, and other community support efforts, according to her obituary.

After raising two children, she re-enrolled at the University of Mississippi, earning her degree in 1993 in sociology. From 1995 through 2009, Margaret served as the First Lady of the University of Mississippi, hosting countless events and refurbishing and enhancing the interior and grounds of Carrier House, the chancellor’s home.

“On behalf of the University of Mississippi, Emily and I extend heartfelt condolences to Margaret Khayat’s family and friends upon her passing,” said UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce in a statement. “Margaret will be remembered for her graciousness and her significant and selfless contributions during her time as First Lady. She was central to the tremendous and pivotal impact that the Khayat family has had on the University of Mississippi and the Ole Miss community. We are greatly saddened by her loss and our thoughts and prayers are with Robert and their children, grandchildren and all of Margaret’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Described by many as gracious, kind and of strong faith, members of the Ole Miss and Oxford communities expressed their grief and condolences to the Khayat family on social media.

Judy Rayner said Khayat was “the epitome” of what a Southern lady embodies.

“Charm, grace, sincerity, kindness, softly spoken, hospitable and always a smile for whomever she greeted,” Raynor said on Facebook. “And what a smile it was! To see that beautiful face light up was a gift to each and every recipient.”

In lieu of flowers, those who wish to honor Khayat’s life may donate to the Margaret Denton Khayat Ole Miss Women’s Council Scholarship online at https://umfoundation.com/mkhayat.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
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