Oseola McCarty

Quick Look At McCarty

Oseola McCarty was a philanthropist who dedicated her life to donating and helping others in need. She donated much of what she had to the University of Southern Mississippi to help hundreds of thousands of people get an education. McCarty shows us that you don't need to have a lot to give.

Early Life

Oseola McCarty was born on March 7, 1908, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. At just 11 years old, McCarty was forced to drop out of school to aid her mother in caring for her sick aunt. As soon as she was able, McCarty took a job as a washerwoman, a position that lasted until she was around 86 years of age. Arthritis took over her hands, forcing her to retire, despite her love for her job. "I would go outside and start a fire under my wash pot. Then I would soak, wash, and boil a bundle of clothes. Then I would rub ’em, wrench ’em, rub ’em again, starch ’em, and hang ’em on the line. After I had all of the clean clothes on the line, I would start on the next batch. I’d wash all day, and in the evenin’ I’d iron until 11:00. I loved the work. The bright fire. Wrenching the wet, clean cloth. White shirts shinin’ on the line.” she explained.


Throughout her life, McCarty was able to manage her money carefully and save $280,000 as a washerwoman. When she retired, she made the decision to donate $150,000, over half of her entire life's savings to the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), to help other people get something that she was never able to -- an education. Her choice inspired over 600 people from her hometown to donate money to the USM, which, in the end, tripled her initial donation. Today, McCarty remains one of the USM's most famous benefactors, and the USM continues to give out full tuition "McCarty Scholarships." In 1996, McCarty was asked to carry the torch during the Olympics.

McCarty died on September 26, 1999, from cancer. Oseola McCarty was an amazing person with a huge heart. Because of her, hundreds of thousands of people who otherwise wouldn't have been able to can now get an education.