Mary Loraine Peets Buffett had a simple yet meaningful philosophy that she imparted to her three children, Laurie, Lucy and one of The University of Southern Mississippi’s most famous alumni, Jimmy. The woman known as “Peets” to her family and friends, instructed her children to “learn to be a listener,” to “live by the sea,” and enjoy the company of others, because “love and family are the best things we have.”
While the life lessons she passed on were part of what made her special, just as important to Peets was her formal education. Peets, who died in 2003, was a 1940 graduate of the Gulf Park College for Women (now the Southern Miss Gulf Park Campus) in Long Beach. “Meeting girls from all over the country and reveling in challenging academics truly opened up my whole world,” she said of her time at Gulf Park.
Today, scholarships in Peets’ name help Mississippi women earn degrees at The University of Southern Mississippi. The scholarships, which are now managed by the Southern Miss Alumni Association, are awarded to incoming full-time female freshmen from the state of Mississippi demonstrating financial need and a minimum high school grade point average of 3.0.
Originally designated specifically for women from the Gulf Coast who enrolled at the Gulf Park Campus, recent changes to the scholarship endowment will now allow students statewide who enroll at either that campus or the Hattiesburg campus to be eligible. To date, five women have benefitted from Peets Buffett scholarships totaling $15,532. Two $5,000 scholarships will be awarded in 2009.
“I am honored to be a part of giving another Mississippi girl this wonderful, life-enriching opportunity,” Peets shared just a few months prior to her death.
The endowment from which the scholarships are awarded is now approaching $250,000. That amount has been bolstered by contributions totaling $55,000 over the past five years by Parrot Heads in Paradise (PHiP), a non-profit corporation that assists in the community concerns of people who are interested in the music of Jimmy Buffett. PHiP generated funds for its gifts from its Annual Convention / Music Fest held in Key West each November.
“As fans of Jimmy and what he personifies, we wanted to honor the woman who gave him to the world,” said Jimmy Pattavina, PHiP president. “Jimmy says the men in his family taught him how to accomplish things, but Peets appears to have shown him how to appreciate the beauty of the world—the arts and letters which brought about Jimmy’s music and literary work.”
Daughter to Announce Scholarship Winners
Lucy Buffett says the scholarship is a fitting tribute to her mother.
“My mother instilled the love of learning in all of her children, and we are truly blessed to be able to share her philosophy and spirit with women from her home state,” said Lucy, who will visit Southern Miss on April 16 when the 2009 scholarship winners are announced. Also that day, Lucy will sign copies of her cookbook “Crazy Sista Cooking: Cuisine and Conversation with Lucy Anne Buffett” at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on the Hattiesburg campus.
Each Peets Buffett scholarship is for one academic year. The scholarship may be renewed annually for up to four years provided that all requirements, including full-time status, enrollment in the College of Arts and Letters, and the maintenance of a 3.0 grade point average, are met.
Applications must be submitted to the Alumni Association office by March 15 for the upcoming fall semester. The application must be accompanied by an essay or other creative work that demonstrates the student’s strong desire to succeed in her field of study. Students selected for scholarships will be notified by mail by May 15 and will be asked to confirm their acceptance of the award in writing to the Alumni Association office by June 15.
“The Alumni Association is thrilled to play a role in honoring Mrs. Buffett, while assisting these women in receiving their college educations, something Mrs. Buffett worked toward her entire life,” said Bob Pierce, executive director of the Alumni Association. “I could not be prouder for the university to offer this scholarship in her name.”
Call 601.266.5013 for more information or visit the Awards/Scholarship section of SouthernMissAlumni.com.
The Peets Buffett Scholarship is awarded to Mississippi women who select a major in the College of Arts and Letters at The University of Southern Mississippi. Above, Peets is pictured with two of her children, Jimmy and Lucy. (Submitted Photo)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.