Skip to Content

Matthews Leaves Cherished Instruments to School of Music

Mary Bess Matthews

Mary Bess Matthews after a performance in March of 1998.

The University of Southern Mississippi School of Music gained three violins, three mandolins and an impressive music library through a generous planned gift in-kind appraised at nearly $100,000 from the estate of Mary Bess Matthews.

Hattiesburg native and resident of New Orleans since 1949, Mary Bess Matthews was an accomplished musician. From piano lessons to voice and violin training, she grew up with a rich musical foundation. As Matthews matured, playing the violin developed into her true passion. After taking several violin courses at Southern Miss, she was asked to perform with the USM Symphony Orchestra as a high-school student.

Described by her friends as a brilliant woman, Matthews held two bachelor's degrees from Baylor University, one in art and one in music, and a master's degree in religious education from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. With her beloved violin, Hortense, Matthews played in the Austin and San Antonio symphonies for two seasons and the New Orleans Symphony for 28 years. She also recorded for local musicians and planned music for St. Anna's Episcopal Church.

Many years after Matthews' time with the USM Symphony Orchestra, she saw them perform in New Orleans and was filled with pride to have been part of such an incredible group. This encounter reminded her fondly of growing up in Hattiesburg and attending classes at Southern Miss, solidifying her decision to one day give back to the program that was instrumental in her development as a musician.

The violins and mandolins will be available in the School of Music for use by promising students in coursework, auditions, degree recitals, competitions and other significant performances. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and recognized regionally as one of the leading schools of music, The University of Southern Mississippi School of Music provides an ideal home for the instruments to be played by talented musicians. Golden Eagles will benefit immensely from access to Matthews' instruments as they gain a wealth of opportunities for their professional and artistic growth.

"This extraordinary gift is greatly appreciated by the School of Music and will make a tremendous difference in the quality of playing our students are able to achieve," said Dr. Jay Dean, director of orchestral activities and professor of music. "A student is only as good as the quality of instrument they are performing on, so these impeccable instruments will make a huge impact on our students' abilities to perform to their highest potential."

Upon Matthews' passing in April 2016, friends, family and loved ones sent memorial gifts to The University of Southern Mississippi. Through the generosity of these gifts, the Mary Bess Matthews Memorial Orchestral Annual Scholarship was established, which will support students who share Matthews' dedication, passion and love of classical music.

Through an annual scholarship and valuable collection of instruments, Matthews' life of music will touch the lives of many musicians to come at Southern Miss.

Learn how you, too, can make a difference in the lives of students at The University of Southern Mississippi. Simply contact Daniel Barton at 601.266.6428 or to get started today, at no obligation.

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation 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

"I give to The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 118 College Drive #5210, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001, or its successor thereto, ______________ [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 the USM Foundation 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 our 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 the USM Foundation 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 the USM Foundation 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 the USM Foundation where you agree to make a gift to the USM Foundation 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.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address