H'burg couple establishes $30,000 endowment at UM in mother's memory

OXFORD – Jane Becker Heidelberg adored her time at the University of Mississippi. She met her husband, Rody Heidelberg, in 1940 at their first dance as students in the old gym. They were together almost 50 years.

She loved collecting art and supporting Mississippi artists, so when she died in 2011, the family began thinking of ways to preserve her memory at the university she loved so much.

Her son, Web Heidelberg, and his wife, Michelle, of Hattiesburg, have established the Jane Becker Heidelberg Endowment for the Arts for the University Museum with a $30,000 gift. The gift will be used for exhibitions and programming, with an emphasis on the work of young or emerging artists.

"The Jane Becker Heidelberg Endowment for the Arts represents arts philanthropy at its very best, and the University Museum is deeply grateful to the Heidelberg family for the creation of this fund in support of emerging artists," said Robert Saarnio, museum director. "Their generosity will transform the museum's capacity to engage with younger and newly emerging artists in meaningful and creative partnerships, whether by exhibition, acquisition or public programs.

"Working with emerging artists is now assured for the museum's future, and the ultimate beneficiaries are the public and university audiences who will experience some of the Mid-South's most creative new artistic talents."

This is not the first time the Heidelbergs have contributed to the university that brought Jane and Rody together. When Rody died in 1989, Jane established the Rowland W. Heidelberg Jr. Scholarship at the School of Law.

The scholarship is awarded to a promising incoming law student for three years.

"Hopefully, the endowment will help provide the kind of support and encouragement that mother provided personally during her lifetime," Web Heidelberg said. "And, of course, to do so at a place that meant so much to her is especially meaningful and appropriate."

Web Heidelberg earned his bachelor's degree from Ole Miss in 1967 before attending law school at Tulane University.