Foundation News

A Gift of Opportunity

Overstreet Estate Gift Supports Ole Miss Opportunity Program
UM Foundation President and CEO Wendell Weakley (center) presents Mike Overstreet (left) and Larry Overstreet with a plaque, recognizing their mother’s generous estate gift to the Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship program.
UM Foundation President and CEO Wendell Weakley (center) presents Mike Overstreet (left) and Larry Overstreet with a plaque, recognizing their mother’s generous estate gift to the Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship program.

An estate gift provided by the late Katie Mae Overstreet of Oxford, Mississippi, will help give lower-income Mississippians the opportunity to attend the University of Mississippi.

Overstreet’s gift was designated by her sons, Mike and Larry Overstreet, both of Oxford, to support the Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship program, which provides financial aid for tuition, housing and meals. Recipients must be residents of Mississippi, incoming freshmen, enrolled full-time, with a family adjusted gross income of $30,000 or below and a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher.

“We are especially grateful for this gift to the Ole Miss Opportunity program — what a wonderful way to honor Katie Mae Overstreet’s legacy of generosity and commitment to helping others,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “The OMO program was the first of its kind in Mississippi, and the Overstreet gift will have an integral impact on our ability to extend a quality education to the broadest range of deserving students, regardless of circumstance, embodying the OMO program motto, ‘From here, it’s possible.’”

“Mother and Daddy believed in what education could do for kids in our state,” said Mike Overstreet, a 1970 graduate of the Ole Miss School of Business Administration. “They wanted us to get an education, and I know they would approve of this gift.”

Larry Overstreet, a 1974 graduate of the UM College of Liberal Arts, agreed: “Mother would be proud to know that her gift is helping kids have an opportunity to get an education that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get because of a lack of funds.”

Since its inception in 2010, 931 students have benefited from Ole Miss Opportunity scholarships. The program is expected to assist some 150 more students this fall, according to Laura Diven-Brown, director of Financial Aid.

The Overstreet brothers said their parents’ philosophy of giving is based on their upbringing.

“They came from middle-income households. Dad was one of 11 children. Mother was an only child,” Mike Overstreet added. “I think just seeing needs out there and realizing how hard people had it caused them to be generous in helping others who are less fortunate than they were.”

“They just learned the value of a dollar and not to waste it,” Larry Overstreet said.

The Overstreets’ parents met on the Square in Oxford; then Katie Mae Wallace was a secretary at a law office and Edgar Overstreet drove a cab. Edgar Overstreet later joined the Ole Miss campus police force and worked his way up the ranks to chief. After 16 years on the force, he began to invest in real estate and long-term health-care facilities in the Oxford area. Through these investments, the Overstreets accumulated the wealth that they’re now paying forward.

“They cared about people and wanted to give back and this is a way they can give back after they’re gone,” Mike Overstreet said. “This will honor my mother, and it will be used for a good cause.”

The planned gift awards the estate of Katie Mae Wallace Overstreet membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university welcomed its first students. The society recognizes generous donors who thoughtfully provide for the university through planned and deferred gifts.

“We are very appreciative to the Overstreets for their generosity, which will play an important role in strengthening Ole Miss Opportunity’s mission to make college affordable for everyone,” said Wendell Weakley, president and CEO of the UM Foundation. “It is gratifying that this gift will honor Mike and Larry’s mother while also creating a lasting legacy to help others realize their goals.”

Individuals and organizations may make gifts to the Katie Mae Overstreet Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship Endowment by mailing a check with the designation noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, Miss. 38655; visiting www.umfoundation.com/makeagift or contacting Sandra Guest at 662-915-5208 or sguest@olemiss.edu.

By Bill Dabney