The late Emmette and Nannie Hale of Senatobia survived the Great Depression when there were few educational opportunities – a fact that made them proud of their children’s and grandchildren’s college degrees. Now a $500,000 gift in the couple’s memory will open a world of opportunities for University of Mississippi students.
Created by a gift from the estate of their son, the late Dr. Alfred Hale of Holly Springs, the Emmette and Nannie Hale Ole Miss First Scholarship Endowment is designed to assist students studying pre-dentistry or music. Al Hale pursued music as an undergraduate at UM, before earning his medical degree from the University of Tennessee. He practiced dentistry for four decades and spent a lifetime enjoying music.
Dr. Hale was an Army veteran and well-known leader who was very involved in the community of Holly Springs and its First Baptist Church. He restored and then opened his antebellum homes –White Pillars, Grey Gables and Hilltop with his exquisite antique and art collections – for the annual pilgrimage and was active in the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce.
“He knew everyone and really worked at making everyone feel comfortable,” said Dr. David Childers of Holly Springs, the executor of the estate, who also said his friend had planned the scholarship fund for several years.
“Dr. Hale never wanted any personal glory for these scholarships and his gift,” Childers said. “He set up these scholarships to honor his parents because he felt as though they had done so much for him. He also really loved Ole Miss,” he said.
Emmette “Buster” Hale III, an alumnus and retired chief information officer of the university, agreed, describing his uncle as a generous man to his family and to the university.
“He wanted to leave a legacy and honor my grandparents, and he knew how vitally important scholarships are to students and the university,” he said.
Dr. Hale’s love of music will continue to live through the new scholarships. Buster Hale said his uncle was a “gifted musician with perfect pitch.” Growing up in Senatobia, Dr. Hale played football in high school and changed uniforms at halftime to perform with the marching band. He dreamed of playing piano at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, but his father advised him that there wasn’t a great deal of money to be earned at that position in the 1950s.
Dr. Hale helped select and fund the purchase of the majority of musical instruments at First Baptist Church of Holly Springs. Through his estate, the First Presbyterian Church of Holly Springs was able to acquire his Steinway piano and the Christ Episcopal Church of Holly Springs was able to acquire a painting of the Madonna and Child from his art collection for its baptistery.
Charles Gates, chair and professor of music, said the generous bequest will enhance music programs by providing scholarships to help recruit and support “the most promising and committed” music students.
“We in the Department of Music are united in our dedication to making our programs as strong as possible, as we prepare students for careers as professional musicians and educators, provide every student at the university a chance to experience music, and serve as a center of musical art and culture for Oxford and the surrounding mid-South area,” Gates said. “We know that continued excellence and growth in these endeavors requires the support made possible by the good stewardship of benefactors such as the late Dr. Hale, and we strive to be worthy of that generosity by giving our utmost to our students and to our various constituencies.”
The new endowment’s income will be divided equally between music and pre-dentistry students selected for the awards, with students in the sciences also benefitting. Glenn Hopkins, dean of liberal arts, said the Hale Scholarship selection will be based on merit and/or need, with the Ole Miss First Scholars Committee making the selection. Recipients will receive assistance for eight semesters if they maintain a minimum 3.0 grade-point average.
Ole Miss First is a university-wide initiative to provide scholarships, which is the university’s most critical need of the 21st century. Alumni and friends can commit to creating one scholarship of $25,000 over five years or to establishing an endowment.
“The gift from Dr. Hale’s estate will help deserving students attend college, earn degrees and enrich their lives,” Hopkins said. “We are most grateful for these generous scholarships and especially gratified to be remembered by a former student.”
Not only was Hale a musician and a medical professional, he was an avid UM sports fan, attending football games with his nephews and basketball games with friends. Buster Hale said he hopes scholars selected for the Hale Scholarships realize the relationships and values a student can develop at the university.
“This great institution teaches more than coursework, and my uncle recognized that. It meant so much to him to be associated with Ole Miss. One of the things you learn is the importance of the Ole Miss family and giving back. It’s vital for people to pass on any help they can provide others in pursuing their dreams,” Buster Hale said.
In addition to Al Hale, Emmette and Nannie Hale were the parents of Mildred “Millie” Hale McLarty and Emmette Hale Jr. and the grandparents of eight. Several earned degrees from UM.
To learn more about the Ole Miss First scholarship program, go to www.olemissfirst.com or call Denson Hollis at 662-915-5092.