Kenneth Lyle Wooten

Published 4:18 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Kenneth Lyle Wooten, former Registrar and Dean of Admissions at the University of Mississippi, died Monday, July 16, 2018, at his beloved Wyldewoode home with his family by his side.   

An active member of the Oxford community for over five decades, his contributions to Oxford and the University touched many lives and continue to have an impact on the community he loved.  The family will host a Celebration of Life at the Powerhouse on University Avenue, Oxford, on Sunday, July  22, 2018, from 2 to 4 p.m.  Coleman Funeral Home of Oxford is in charge of arrangements.

Born in Lena, Miss.,  in 1933, his lifelong devotion to Ole Miss began when he enrolled as a student and worked his way through school with a dream and determination to get an education.  He completed his first degree in 1956, and then earned the Juris Doctorate in 1960 when he served as President of the Law School Graduating Class.  He chose to remain in Oxford and became a leader in the community.   He served as President of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Oxford Civic Council, Common Cause Mississippi, Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and Theatre Oxford; served on Board of Directors of both Friends of the Museums and Friends of the Library and chaired the Lafayette County Democratic Committee for several years.

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Ken was also active in many local initiatives including the Retiree Attraction Program, Leadership Lafayette, the Veteran’s Nursing Home, the Oxford Train Depot Restoration Committee and the Presidential Debate Committee.

On the national level, Ken served as Trustee of the New York-based College Entrance Examination Board, was one of the founders and first President of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and served as consultant for colleges from New York to California, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Justice Department.  He was honored by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators with a Distinguished Service Award in 1970, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

In 2006, the Black Student Union of the University recognized him for his outstanding dedication during the 1962 integration of Ole Miss.  He served as a panelist on the 2012 “Opening the Closed Society” program, where he described the riot from the Lyceum and the Circle and his attempts to get the students to return to their dorms.  As Director of Admissions, he began an active recruitment program to identify leading African American high school students.  He also served as a consultant to many junior colleges and to recognize his service, the University established the Ken Wooten Scholars Bowl in his honor, a program that continues to bring top community college students to campus.   

An avid reader and member of the Dick Boyd Book Club, Ken authored two books, “Blackberries,” which was published in 2013, and “On Being Afraid of the Dark” in 2017.  In this last book, he wrestled with tough issues such as historical acts of discrimination from personal experiences and those from his state.   In an interview for this book, he referred to a favorite song written by a friend, “What a Wonderful Day,” and said the words remind us that each day we live and each breath we take is special, to be appreciated.  We are to live life to the fullest for so long as we may live.

Kenneth leaves behind his wife of 40 years, Margaret Wylde, two daughters, Lisa Hankamer of Houston, Texas, and Laurie DuChaine (David) of Oxford, grandson Lucian who is serving in the U.S. Navy and Cope who is a student at the University of Alabama.  Ken delighted in writing clues for his grandsons that revealed the location of their next family trip.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in his honor may be made to the donor’s choice of the University  Museums or the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts through the University of Mississippi Foundation (406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS,  38655) or to the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (413 South 14th, Oxford, MS 38655).

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