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Life-Changing Experience at Millsaps Inspires $1 Million Gift

by Web on January 25, 2017

Dr. Richard Blount, a longtime Jackson ophthalmologist, credits Millsaps College with changing the course of his life.

For that reason and in recognition of the high quality education that Millsaps continues to provide, Blount and his wife, Martha, have funded a $1-million charitable trust, naming Millsaps College the beneficiary.

“We wanted to do this to give back to an institution that we love and respect,” said Blount, a 1958 graduate of Millsaps.

The Dr. Richard L. Blount and Martha M. Blount Charitable Remainder Unitrust has a 10-year term and will terminate and distribute all assets to the College in September 2026.

“This is a gracious and generous gift that speaks to their confidence in the mission and vision of Millsaps College,” said Dr. Robert W. Pearigen, president of Millsaps. “Their dedication to Millsaps will make a positive difference in the education of our students for generations to come.”

The irrevocable gift may be used as directed by the Board of Trustees of the College, but the Blounts will have the opportunity to offer their suggestions on the use of the funds.

As a senior at Central High School in Jackson in 1954, Blount was offered an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with the provision he prepare by taking college-level math and science classes.

“I chose to attend Millsaps and discovered immediately that if a person takes mostly math and science classes, then you are surrounded primarily by pre-med and pre-dental classmates,” he said. “Quickly, I became interested in our classwork and labs.”

By the end of that first semester, Blount notified the congressman who had secured his appointment to West Point that his plans had changed and he would remain at Millsaps to pursue preparation for medical school. (Years later, that same congressman became a patient of Dr. Blount).

Dr. J.B. Price, then chairman of the chemistry department at Millsaps, was also faculty president of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the national health pre-professional honor society. “In 1958, a letter of recommendation from Dr. Price was a ticket to medical school,” Blount said. “He offered me a letter of endorsement to medical school at Baylor, and a very useful summer externship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC).

Blount earned his medical degree from Baylor Medical School in Houston, Texas, completed an internship at Emory Medical School and an introduction to ophthalmology at Harvard, and completed an internship at Emory University Medical Center and fellowships at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York and Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.

While Blount was interning in Atlanta, Cliff Rigby, a 1956 Millsaps graduate and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brother, gave him the name and phone number of a classmate at Columbia Theological Seminary.

“I knew immediately when she opened her dorm door and said, ‘I’m Martha,’ that was it,” Blount said. “We married in 1963 and moved to San Francisco to fulfill my military obligation at the Presidio military installation.”

Blount returned to Jackson in 1969 and established his practice, in which he eventually cared for more than 20,000 patients.

Blount is married to the Reverend Doctor Martha Means Blount, and they have two sons: David is a Mississippi state senator, and Philip, a faculty physician of physical medicine, sports medicine, and rehabilitation at Methodist Rehabilitation Center and UMMC.

“As we have reflected upon the contributions of Millsaps to our lives throughout the years,” Blount said, “we recall a message from former Millsaps president Dr. Homer Ellis Finger Jr. that ‘Millsaps has been from its earliest history motivated by a spirit of service, of ministry in the broad sense – to students, to community, to nation, to church. The quality of this motive is such that service to the student is also service to the community and service to the community includes service to church and to nation.’”