By Bill Dabney
University of Mississippi
An estate gift to the University of Mississippi will ultimately provide scholarships for students in the schools of Law, Education and Medicine.
The gift’s benefactors are the late Taylor Webb, a 1950 graduate of the Ole Miss School of Law, and his wife Sue Webb, of Leland.
“My husband and I never had children, so we decided a number of years ago to make a gift to Ole Miss after our lifetimes,” said Sue Webb, a Taylor native who grew up in Oxford. “We decided it would be divided between the School of Law and the School of Education because Taylor practiced law and also believed very strongly in public education.”
Taylor Webb practiced law for 40 years, focusing on estate and land title litigation. His wife worked as his secretary all those years, and they retired together in 1990.
Susan Duncan, dean of the law school, expressed gratitude for the Webbs’ foresight.
“We are so grateful for this support, as it will allow us to attract the best and brightest students to our law school,” she said. “I want Sue to know that the couple’s invaluable gift will have a long-lasting, positive effect on our students, their communities and, ultimately, our world.”
“On behalf of the School of Education, I’m so grateful to the Webbs for this gift,” Dean David Rock said. “Such private support truly changes the course of young people’s lives, and we are ever thankful for our donors’ devotion and vision.”
When Taylor Webb died in July 2017, his wife decided to include the UM Medical Center in their estate plans.
“I’m very encouraged by the things I read about UMMC, and I think the state of Mississippi needs a good teaching hospital like that,” she said.
UMMC, the state’s only academic health sciences center, relies on the generosity of donors, said Dr. Loretta Jackson-Williams, vice dean for medical education at the School of Medicine.
“Gifts, such as this one from the Webbs, open opportunities for students who are training to be tomorrow’s health professionals,” she said. “We greatly appreciate their thoughtful generosity in sowing into the lives of future physicians.”
Taylor Webb earned his Eagle Scout rank at 13. At 17, he left high school after his senior football season to walk on as tight end for the Ole Miss Rebels. He was soon drafted by the U.S. Army during World War II.
Returning home, he graduated at 22 from law school and, throughout his career, served in various positions with the Mississippi Economic Council and other organizations. Since the 1960s, he advocated for public support of education as the solution to Mississippi’s economic and social problems.
The Gillsburg native grew up in Leland and always had a project going, his wife said. When their house was under construction, for example, he used the carpenters’ scaffolding to paint the home himself.
He later added on a room and discovered walnut paneling for sale in Missouri, which he brought home to be installed in their great room. He bought an old water tower, cut it down to about 5 feet tall and added utilities to fashion a hot tub for the couple’s back yard.
“I’m 5-foot-9, and it was wide enough for me to swim one lap across. That’s how big it was,” Webb said. “He just always did things like that.”
Taylor Webb had rental property in Oxford and a 75-acre pecan grove that he harvested behind their Leland home. He loved hunting but stopped when he killed a trophy deer. He loved tennis but stopped playing when he beat the two best singles players in Washington County.
He also had a pilot’s license. Though his wife never flew with him, she always joined him on their many road trips throughout the United States and Canada, even driving together as far as Alaska, Seattle, San Diego and Key West on different trips.
“I cannot stress enough what a remarkable person he was,” Sue Webb said. I” know I was very fortunate to be married to him. We had a fun life; we really did. We had a storybook life.”
Planned gifts award donors membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university welcomed its first students. The society recognizes those who thoughtfully provide for the university through bequests and deferred gifts.
“I hope our gift will offer students an opportunity to accomplish what they want to in life,” Webb said. “I hope it will provide for someone, or several someones, to be teachers in elementary or secondary school and certainly practice law.
“Additionally, I want our gift to help health care students continue to experience the hands-on training that UMMC provides.”
For information on estate planning to support the university, contact Daniel Wiseman, senior director of gift planning, at email@example.com or 662-915-7601.
For information on supporting the School of Law, contact Suzette Matthews, senior director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-937-1497; for supporting the School of Education, contact Kelly Smith Marion, associate director of development, at email@example.com or 662-915-6381; and for UMMC, visit http://www.umc.edu/givenow/ or contact Meredith Aldridge, executive director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-815-7469.