April 1, 2016 | By Bill Dabney
An affinity for the University of Mississippi can spread through a family, even when some members have other alma maters.
That’s the case for Tommy Reckling, a Rice University graduate from Houston, Texas, and his wife, Isla, a University of Texas alumna. Three of their eight children attended Ole Miss. Now they want other students to enjoy the same college experience.
With a $150,000 gift to Ole Miss, the Recklings worked with the University of Mississippi Foundation to establish the James Sterling Reckling Scholarship Endowment to benefit students in the School of Business Administration and the Thomas Kelly and Michelle Hodges Reckling Scholarship Endowment to help support students in the College of Liberal Arts.
“I hope these will give young people a chance to see what it’s like to go to college,” Tommy Reckling said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve done anything and we thought it would be a good time to step up to the plate and help out some other people.”
A retired stock broker, Reckling and his wife will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary next year. They have raised eight children and have 28 grandchildren.
James Reckling, for whom one of the scholarships is named, is a 1988 UM graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Now, he’s head of business development for a Houston-based insurance agency. His daughter, Lauren, currently attends Ole Miss in the School of Applied Sciences.
“My parents are very giving people and they know how much we enjoyed our time at Ole Miss. They too enjoyed their visits to Ole Miss. I believe they wanted to help other deserving students have a great collegiate experience,” said James Reckling, who decided to attend the University of Mississippi after a campus visit. “I’m honored by the naming of this scholarship and it’s nice that it will help fund an education for deserving students that may otherwise not be able to attend Ole Miss.”
Thomas Reckling studied business at Ole Miss in the late ’80s and transferred to the University of St. Thomas in Houston to finish his degree. His wife, Michelle Hodges, received a UM degree in home economics in 1991.
“We both feel so very honored to have this wonderful scholarship in our name and we were so touched when Thomas’ dad called us and asked our thoughts,” Michelle Reckling said. “Ole Miss has such a special place in our hearts, and I have loved bringing my family to this incredible campus and showing it off! We have been to many football games, tailgated in the Grove and shared all of our memories with our children. It is such a special place, and we are so proud to always be a part of this amazing community.”
A self-employed investor, Thomas Reckling chose to attend Ole Miss because of James’ experience at the university. He and Michelle met on campus, though they were both originally from Houston, and now have six children.
“I believe my dad wanted to establish this scholarship because he also shares amazing memories of coming up to visit us and enjoying all of his time spent on this campus,” James Reckling said. “I can’t express to you how grateful we feel to be a part of it forever. Ole Miss will always have a special place in all of our hearts, and we can’t wait to make more memories there.”
In addition to James, Thomas and Michelle, the Recklings’ eighth child, John, attended Ole Miss for a semester and then joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
Denson Hollis, senior director of development for the College of Liberal Arts, said the benefits of scholarships such as these are far-reaching.
“The scholarships established by Mr. Reckling will honor his own family members for generations to come, while also helping to improve the college experience for students in these disciplines,” said Hollis. “We are very grateful to the Recklings and hope that their generosity will inspire others to make similar gifts to the university.”
Individuals and organizations may make gifts to the Reckling scholarship endowments 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 umfoundation.com/makeagift or contacting Denson Hollis at 662-915-5092 or email@example.com.