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Obituaries in the News

September 27, 1999

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) _ Oseola McCarty, a onetime washwoman who earned widespread recognition after she donated her life savings to the University of Southern Mississippi, died Sunday of complications from liver cancer. She was 91.

McCarty, who lived and worked most of her life in a small, wooden-frame Hattiesburg house, saved thousands of dollars she earned washing and ironing clothes for others.

She earned universal acclaim in July 1995 when the university announced McCarty had willed $150,000 of her life’s savings to Southern Mississippi to provide scholarships for deserving, financially needy students.

In donating the $150,000, McCarty said she wanted to give others the chance to get an education she never had. She said she had dreamed of becoming a nurse, but had to drop out of elementary school to care for sick relatives.

Her life changed dramatically after her donation. The woman who had spent her entire life in Hattiesburg was honored by President Clinton, attracted international media attention and even wrote a book espousing her philosophy of simple living.

McCarty’s gift, willed to the university in an irrevocable trust administered by the university foundation, led to a matching fund-raising drive that had raised more than $330,000 at the time of her death. Donations to the Oseola McCarty Endowed Scholarship Fund have already provided scholarships for nine students.

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