Southern Miss alumnus provides continued support in daughter’s memory

Southern Miss alumnus provides continued support in daughter’s memory

This is a news release from USM

With a recent gift of $65,000 to The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, Southern Miss alumnus Ed Williamson and his wife, Gloria, are enhancing the legacy of their daughter's love for others through the Ashley Dawn Williamson Memorial Scholarship Fund for Non-Traditional Students.

The Williamsons established the endowment with a gift of $50,000 in 2001. Inspired by Ashley Dawn's concern for a friend who became a single parent in high school and could not advance her education, the Williamsons created the scholarship for the purpose of providing assistance to students who are parents with financial needs.

"Ashley Dawn grieved for her friend's lost educational opportunity. She knew her potential and feared the girl might not even finish high school," Ed Williamson said.

The intent of the scholarship is to provide assistance for students who carry additional financial burdens as parents. Ed and Gloria understand that the demand of attending school and maintaining a job is difficult enough, and students should not have to fear choosing between raising a child and furthering their education. It is their hope that this scholarship will help relieve the financial burden of educational costs so the recipient can manage the special financial needs of parenting a child such as daycare and medical expenses.

"Non-traditional student help is what we're trying to accomplish. The whole idea is for people to achieve their potential, to be able to go forward for themselves and for their children," said Ed Williamson."

Ashley Dawn had just completed her sophomore year at Philadelphia High School when a car accident took her life in 1986. She had planned to attend Southern Miss.

"I don't know what she would have majored in, but she loved everything about Southern Miss," Williamson said of his late daughter.

Williamson, a 1968 graduate of Southern Miss who also holds a juris doctorate from the Cecil C. Humphrey School of Law at the University of Memphis, is a member of the USM Foundation Honor Club, a past president of the Southern Miss Alumni Association and has served on the USM Foundation Board of Directors. He received the Alumni Outstanding Service Award in 1990, the Alumni Continuous Service Award in 1993 and was elected to the Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 2002. He is the founder of the Edward A. Williamson Law Firm in Philadelphia, Miss., and devoted time and effort to the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association, culminating in his service as its elected President in 1999.

To date, the Ashley Dawn Williamson Memorial Scholarship Fund for Non-Traditional Students has awarded nearly $22,000 in scholarships to help students at Southern Miss achieve their educational goals.

Through the Williamsons' continued support, Ashley Dawn's spirit lives on. "She was compassion itself," said Ed Williamson. "She was full of life and full of love. That was Ashley Dawn."