BEACH -An eligible Gulfport student will
be able to pursue educational goals at The University of Southern
Mississippi in memory of a dedicated Gulfport physician. Family and
friends of the late Dr. Thomas Benefield Jr. have established the
Thomas Benefield, M.D., Memorial Endowment at Southern Miss.
"My brothers and I knew that the scholarship
was the perfect way to honor our father's life," said the Rev.
Rachel Benefield-Pfaff, Benefield's daughter, who is a Southern
Miss graduate along with her brothers, Drs. Don and Boyd Benefield,
all of Gulfport. "He had a passion for learning, and he definitely
believed that it is one of the keys to freedom. Through his education
at Southern Miss, he was empowered to be successful not only in
medicine but also in life. I have no doubt that Dad is thrilled
about the creation of this endowment."
Benefield, who died Aug. 27, 2004, at age 74, is also
survived by his wife, Elinor. He completed his premedicine degree
from Southern Miss in 1953 and fulfilled his dream to become a doctor
at Tulane University School of Medicine. In 1959, he returned to
his hometown of Gulfport and established the Benefield Clinic, where
he practiced family medicine for 43 years. He retired in 2002.
An active alumnus and longtime supporter of Southern
Miss, Benefield was a founding member of the athletic committee,
past president of the Southern Miss alumni chapter for Harrison
County and a member of the Eagle Club. He was a President's Circle
member of the USM Foundation, where he also served on its board
of directors. In 1989, Benefield was inducted into the university's
Alumni Hall of Fame.
"Dr. Benefield was Southern Miss through and
through," said Dr. Shelby F. Thames, Southern Miss president.
"Throughout his life, he was a catalyst for action when it
came to his alma mater. He served as a volunteer for many years
and continued to give back to Southern Miss throughout his career.
We greatly appreciate family and friends wanting to continue Dr.
Benefield's name through a scholarship."
The scholarship will support an incoming freshman
from Gulfport to attend Southern Miss either on the Gulf Park or
Hattiesburg campus with a major in the College of Science and Technology.
The recipient must have a 3.0 grade point average and demonstrate
To make a donation to the Thomas Benefield, M.D.,
Memorial Endowment, please send it to The University of Southern
Mississippi Foundation, 118 College Drive #10026, Hattiesburg, MS
The USM Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation
that serves as a fiduciary of private funds donated to Southern
For more information about this endowment or other
giving opportunities at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf
Park campus, please call Dave Estorge, development officer, at (228)