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Released January 24, 2003

At Southern Miss


HATTIESBURG – Robert and Lucille Kinniard were lovers of the fine arts, particularly opera and classical music, and The University of Southern Mississippi's College of the Arts is a major beneficiary of that mutual passion.

The deceased Hattiesburg couple, through their estate, has donated $181,843 to the university for establishment of the Robert N. Kinniard Jr. and Lucille Ehlers Kinniard Memorial Endowment. Income from the endowment will fund presentations by visiting professional performers, artists and scholars in the arts college.

"It is through private gifts such as this one by the Kinniards that the university is able to provide an extra margin of excellence for the benefit of our students," said Southern Miss President Shelby Thames. "This endowment will greatly enhance the outstanding and nationally recognized educational and cultural offerings of our College of the Arts. We thank the Kinniard family for their generosity."

Arts Dean Mary Ann Stringer noted the college "has a long tradition of presenting a broad range of distinguished guest artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Ballet Florida and the New Orleans Glass Exhibit.

"The college is committed to presenting artists who will contribute to the education of our students and to the life of our community," she added. "This significant gift will help ensure the continuation of these residencies and performances. We are grateful to the Kinniard family."

Bill Pace, Southern Miss associate vice president for development, said,"The Kinniards attended many of the events in the College of the Arts and were impressed with the quality of the performances. They wanted to show their appreciation for the enjoyment they received, so they included in their estate plans an endowment to benefit the college. Even though they did not attend the university, they felt very close, especially through the music produced and the guests who performed on campus."

Robert Kinniard, who died Feb. 19, 2002, at the age of 90, was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1911, but his family moved to Jackson, Miss., in 1920. He met Lucille Ehlers, who was a librarian, at Millsaps College and they subsequently were married in Hattiesburg, the home of Lucille's parents.

After serving with U.S. forces in Belgium during World War II, Kinniard and his wife settled in the New York City area, where Kinniard worked as a chemical engineer for the Mobil Oil Corporation for many years. They moved back to Hattiesburg following his retirement in 1971.

Kinniard was an avid reader of the classics, and a devotee of opera and symphony music. He donated more than 2,000 classical music records to Southern Miss's School of Music.

Lucille Kinniard was a lover of the fine arts, especially opera, and particularly the performances of Joan Sutherland. She also collected Lucille Parker drawings, which she later donated to Hattiesburg's William Carey College. She preceded her husband in death


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM