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Bonnie Brown: Q&A with Lynn Dedeaux Kirkpatrick

The latest interview in the Ole Miss Retirees features Lynn Dedeaux Kirkpatrick, former Director of Internal Auditing on campus. The organization’s mission is to enable all of the university’s faculty and staff retirees to maintain and promote a close association with the university. It is the goal of the Ole Miss Faculty/Staff Retirees Association to maintain communication by providing opportunities to attend and participate in events and presentations.

Lynn began her career at Ole Miss in the Bursar’s Office, then moved on to Internal Audit eventually becoming the Director.  She readily gives credit to her close-knit family who greatly influenced her, and mentors who helped her shape her successful career.  

Brown:  Where did you grow up?  Describe your hometown and what was special about it.  

Kirkpatrick: I grew up in Morton, a small town in central Mississippi.   Morton, like many small towns, is a place where people know and watch out for each other.  I remember as a kid, roaming all over town without a care in the world.  Morton has all of the small-town essentials, with Sonic being at the top of the list!  It is home to Roosevelt State Park, and is located about thirty miles from Jackson, making the location ideal for entertainment, shopping, etc.  

Brown:  Please talk about your parents and siblings.    

Kirkpatrick:  My Dad, Sidney Dedeaux, attended Pharmacy School at Ole Miss.  He owned and operated a Pharmacy in Morton for about fifteen years, at which time he decided to attend medical school.  He was President of the Chamber of Commerce in Morton, and was

what seemed like constantly, trying to find a doctor for the town.  After several frustrating years, I remember him telling me one day that he would just do it himself!  Upon graduation, he returned to Morton and began his practice.  He was a loving person and caring doctor.

My mother, Pam Dedeaux, was the band director in Pelahatchie, MS.  Band directing is essentially a 24/7 job and kept her very busy.  Later, she was a housewife and spent her time teaching private music lessons, taking care of the family, singing in the Church choir, and working in Dad’s clinic.

I have one brother and two sisters.  There is a substantial age difference (10-17 years), as my mother passed away when I was six and my siblings were from a later marriage.  We are divided between Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, but are close-knit and spend as much time together as possible.

Lynn with sisters Libby Dedeaux Sims and June Dedeaux Manion

Brown:  Tell us about your childhood.  

Kirkpatrick: When I think back on my childhood, many good memories come to mind.  I think about our annual 4th of July party.  We would wake up to the Stars and Stripes blaring on the stereo and the day would begin.  There would be singing, music, fireworks, food, swimming, and lots of family and friends.  When reflecting on my childhood, I also think about swimming parties, our Church, friends, hanging out in my Dad’s Pharmacy, hanging out in the Florist next to the Pharmacy “helping” Ms. Paula arrange flowers, helping my Great-Grandfather in his General Store, school activities, family vacations, all of the good memories. 

Brown:  When you were 5 years old and asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, how did you respond?

Kirkpatrick:  A veterinarian, according to my Mother…yes, I had to call and ask!  I would have guessed a fairy princess or unicorn!!  

Brown:  Who influenced you in your early life?  

Kirkpatrick:  As a child, I spent a lot of time with my Great-Grandfather, one of my great-aunts, and my Dad’s sister.  I idolized all of them and would have to say they were very strong influences in my life.

Brown:  Where did you go to school?

Kirkpatrick:  I attended Morton Attendance Center through my eleventh-grade year.  The summer before my senior year, we moved to Lewisburg, West Virginia for my Dad to start medical school.  I attended Greenbrier East High School my senior year.  The schools were different in many ways, especially size.  In my senior year, the graduating class in Morton was approximately 100 students, whereas the graduating class in Lewisburg was close to 800.  I enjoyed both schools.   After high school, I attended Ole Miss.

Brown:  Tell us about your high school experience.  What was your favorite/least favorite subject? What clubs/activities did you participate in?  

Kirkpatrick:  I enjoyed high school and all of my classes.  I would say my least favorite was probably science.  I was involved in typical clubs, such as the Beta Club.  I was never a sports player, but I made an excellent spectator and fan!

I was very involved in the band program from the 5th grade through college.  I played the bassoon in concert band and was on the flag team during marching season.  During my band days, I participated in many competitions and events.  One of my favorites was a three-week European tour with a national band, for which I was chosen.  One of my Mom’s favorite stories about that trip is when they called to ask about a famous place we had visited that day.  I told her it was fine, but “you should see the boys from Iowa”!  Spoken like a true 15-year-old!

Brown:  Did you have a curfew?  

Kirkpatrick: I definitely had a curfew!  When I would come home from a date or going out with friends and was cutting it close, my Dad would be standing on the front porch looking at his watch!  Even when I was home from Ole Miss, Dad would say “be home by 10:00”.  Needless to say, we had many disagreements over that!!  

Brown:  What was your first job?  

Kirkpatrick:  My first job as a teenager, other than babysitting, was at my Dad’s Pharmacy.  While a student at Ole Miss, I worked in the School of Pharmacy, and after graduation, I worked for Unifirst Bank in Jackson. 

Brown:  Tell us how/when your Ole Miss “story” began?   Who hired you?  Talk about the interview.  How long did you work at Ole Miss?

Kirkpatrick:  I got married and moved back to Oxford in 1987, at which time I was hired by Bill Dickens as a cashier in the Bursar’s Office.  I would love to say I remember my initial interview, but my memory has not improved with age!  I worked at Ole Miss from 1987 until 2016, when I retired.

Brown:  What position(s) did you hold?    

Kirkpatrick:  I began in the Bursar’s Office as a cashier.  After a couple of years, I transferred to Internal Audit as a Senior Secretary and began pursuing my Accountancy degree.  Over the years, I was promoted to Auditor, Senior Auditor, Audit Manager and then Director.  

Brown:  What was your “best” and “worst” days at work and why?

Kirkpatrick:  I have numerous good memories (best days) from my time at Ole Miss; many revolved around the Accountancy students we employed.  I felt like a second mama to many of them and cried when they graduated.  They kept life interesting with all of their antics and kept us all young!  I don’t know that it was my worst day, but one of my saddest days was when Dr. Khayat retired.  He is a good man, was an excellent boss, and I think the world of him.

Brown:  Did you have a mentor/role model who influenced you? 

Kirkpatrick: I would have to say, Larry Sparks.  He was the Director of Internal Audit when I was an auditor.  He taught me so much and helped shape the person I became throughout my career.  

Brown:  What are your strengths and how have they helped (or hindered) your success?  

Kirkpatrick:  Well, my friends and family would probably say I’m very bossy, if that’s a strength, but I would say I’m thick-skinned, organized, understanding, honest, straightforward and have the ability to separate personal life and business, to name a few.  I think these traits helped throughout my career by enabling me to deal with all types of people and situations.

Brown:  What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Kirkpatrick: Don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what people think of you, live your life, be a good person, always do your best and be happy.

Brown:  Tell us about your children and grandchildren.  

Kirkpatrick:  I have been blessed with two sons, a stepdaughter, and two granddaughters.  My oldest son, Zack Mills, was born in 1988 and the youngest, John Mills, in 1994.  My stepdaughter, Lily, came into my life in 2011.  Zack is married to Meghan Mills, lives in Oxford, and has two precious daughters.  My youngest son died in an automobile accident his senior year in high school.  I can honestly say, it was at that point I realized just how close and supportive the Ole Miss family could be.

My granddaughters are without a doubt the most precious children who ever lived (maybe I’m a little biased)!  Abigail is 3 and Maddie Grace is 6, full of energy and very loving children.  The oldest is a carbon copy of her Dad and has her Mother’s personality; the youngest is a carbon copy of her Mother and has her Dad’s personality.  They make life fun.

 Lynn with granddaughters Maddie Grace and Abigail

Granddaughters Maddie Grace and Abigail with Zack

Sons Zack Mills and John Mills, daughter-in-law Meghan Denney Mills

Brown:  What are some skills that you think everyone should learn?

Kirkpatrick:  From a career standpoint, I think one of the most important things a person should learn is how to separate personal life and business.  From a personal standpoint (and career), I’d have to say communication skills are one of the most important.

Brown:  What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Kirkpatrick:  Raising my children to be good people.  

Brown:  What do you need to rant about or get off your chest?

Kirkpatrick:  Hmmm…probably nothing.  As anyone who knows me can attest, I tend to rant and vocalize as I go!!  I’ve been told many times I will never die from holding things inside!

Brown:  What would you sing at Karaoke night?

Kirkpatrick:   “Super Freak” by Rick James or “Love Shack” by the B-52’s.  

Brown:  If you were in a high-speed chase, what song would you want blaring on the radio? 

Kirkpatrick:  “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys or “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses.

Brown:  What became your new routine after you retired? Do you have hobbies?

Kirkpatrick:  I cook dinner for my son and his family every week; one of my granddaughters spends the night, at least once a week; and, my husband and I have date night every week.  Other than that, I can’t really say I have a routine.  I do have hobbies. I collect coins, Russian teacups, work in the yard, and fish with my son, to name a few.

Brown:  What “old person” things do you do?

Kirkpatrick:  The things I consider “old person” that I do are eat/go out to dinner early, around 5:00-6:00 and go to bed and wake up early most days.

Brown:  If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?  

Kirkpatrick:  Definitely laser eyes…hope that doesn’t make me the villain!!!

Brown:  Tell us something about yourself that people might not know.

Kirkpatrick:  I am super organized, bordering on compulsive.

Brown:  What takes up too much of your time?

Kirkpatrick:  I’d have to say Facebook, games on my phone, and television.

Brown:  What’s the title of the current chapter of your life?

Kirkpatrick: My Name is LeeLee (the name my granddaughters call me).

Brown:  Where would you go and what would you do on your dream vacation?

Kirkpatrick:  A cruise to Antarctica.  I would probably spend most of my time just freezing, but I would love to go! 

Brown:  What are some small things that make your day better?

Kirkpatrick:  Seeing and/or talking to my sisters, son, and granddaughters, and spending time with my husband.  

Lynn and husband John Kirkpatrick

Brown:  If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?

Kirkpatrick: Put things back where they belong, neatly!! 

Brown:  Frank Sinatra said, “I would like to be remembered as a man who had a wonderful time living life, a man who had good friends, fine family—and I don’t think I could ask for anything more than that, actually.   How do you want to be remembered?

Kirkpatrick:  As a good person, daughter/sister/mother /wife and friend; as someone who loved her family; and, as someone, you could count on and call anytime you needed help. 

Bonnie Brown is a retired staff member of the University of Mississippi. She most recently served as Mentoring Coordinator for the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy. For questions or comments, email her at bbrown@olemiss.edu.

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