UM endowment honors the memories of 3 friends

Published 12:00 pm Monday, March 28, 2016

By Carter Hach

University of Mississippi

A scholarship endowment paying tribute to the lives of three University of Mississippi students has grown to $322,000 and three new recipients of the scholarship have been named.

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Continuing gifts from Kappa Alpha fraternity have expanded the Charles Walker Kelly, Samuel Clayton Kelly and Bryant Mason Wilbanks Memorial Scholarship Endowment that honors the lives of lifelong friends killed in a 2011 car accident. Kappa Alpha fraternity recently contributed $55,000 to the fund.

All natives of Madison, the friends graduated together from Madison Central High School, attended Broadmoor Baptist Church, enrolled at Ole Miss and pledged the same fraternity. Now their legacies are kept alive by fellow fraternity brothers who receive scholarship awards.

This year’s recipients are Matt Earwood, Joseph Rebentisch and Chandler Telfer.

“It’s been five years since their passing,” said Sam Kelly Sr., father of Sam Clayton Kelly. “This is a great way for the fraternity to remember them as being part of that organization and to reflect on their lives and how much they loved Ole Miss. Life is short, and you’ve got to cherish those moments.”

Donors, alumni advisers of the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Order and the university’s scholarship committee work together to select recipients. The award is based on a number of criteria, including financial need, leadership and academic performance.

Earwood, of Tupelo, a junior in UM’s Patterson School of Accountancy, said he feels humbled to be selected for the scholarship.

“This is a great way to honor the lives of three outstanding guys,” he said. “When the award was being presented this year, I really enjoyed my first time getting to hear from the families and some close friends. The scholarship is a daily reminder to me that life is precious.”

Rebentisch, also of Tupelo, a senior accountancy major completing an internship in Dallas, expressed similar sentiments.

“I hope that in the coming years I can return this gift 10 times over to KA,” he said. “Although I never knew them, the legacy they left endures. During my freshman year, I was able to see the radical impact their lives had upon older KAs.

“In turn, they impressed upon us how in this season of life, a steadfast fraternal community is imperative in the cultivation of our faiths. To share in this sentiment is a privilege, and I’m honored to be a part of the same brotherhood as Walker, Sam Clayton and Mason.”

Telfer, a sophomore accounting major from Nashville, Tennessee, agreed.

“This scholarship is a great opportunity to remember the lives of three brothers,” Telfer said. “I can’t help but think of how much opportunity these guys had.

“It makes me reflect on my own opportunities that I have before me. It reminds me of how quickly it can all be taken away and to continue to engage in the world around me, because nothing is guaranteed.”

The endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations.