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Improving the Lives of Mississippi Children

Mary Burkett

"If you're in a position to help somebody, and if it doesn't hurt you, then do it." – Mary Burkett.

Centenarian Mary Burkett has a passion for daylilies. She has one of those gardens people drive long distances to see, and counts gardening as her favorite hobby. Her other hobby—real estate—has grown a garden of a different variety, one that will help thousands of sick and injured children at Batson Children's Hospital.

Mary is leaving the bulk of her estate, sprouted from wise real estate investments, to the children's hospital. The Hattiesburg resident has never stepped foot in Batson, has no children of her own, and has no relatives who have been treated there. She has no personal story of triumph or tragedy that framed her choice to include Batson in her will. Her reasons for doing so were far simpler: She loves children.

"I feel like somebody has to take care of them because they cannot take care of themselves," Mary says. "I want them to get the best of care."

"Ms. Burkett is a truly beautiful person and it is clear her life has been dedicated to bringing beauty, joy and, most of all, hope to others," Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames professor and chair of pediatrics, says. "With this gift, she is now committed to bringing hope to children."

Mary encountered Batson for the first time through a letter sent to donors from Batson's Children's Miracle Network Hospitals program. Each time she received a letter, Mary would reply with a small donation.

This went on for nearly seven years until one day, Mary enclosed a handwritten letter to Barr, who co-signs the letters with hospital chief executive officer, Guy Giesecke.

"I almost fell out of my chair when I read Mary's letter, especially the last paragraph," Barr recalls. "It was similar to other letters I receive in that it outlined her personal connection to child health issues and her dedication to research in her career, but that last paragraph—that was really special."

That last paragraph explained that Batson would receive a significant portion of her estate. The declaration, worthy of some fanfare, was done in Mary's typical matter-of-fact fashion.

"I try to follow a Christian faith," Mary says. "And I feel like if you're in a position to help somebody and if it doesn't hurt you, then do it."

Change a Life
Contact Sandra Guest at or 662-915-5208 if you are interested in learning more about giving back to Batson Children's Hospital. Gifts like Mary's are just one way you can change a child's life by supporting the University of Mississippi Foundation.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the University of Mississippi a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

Bequest Language

"I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to the University of Mississippi Foundation [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Ole Miss or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support its mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Ole Miss as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Ole Miss as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Ole Miss where you agree to make a gift to Ole Miss and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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