By Bill Dabney and the Flynt Family
Unified messaging communication
The late Roger M. Flynt Jr. loved the University of Mississippi and its law school, crediting his studies there for much of its enduring success.
As a testament to his life, his wife, Gaye Flynt of Oxford, created the Roger Flynt Memorial Law Endowment. The endowment is unlimited, which means it can be used at the Dean’s discretion.
“I have so much faith in Susan and Suzette that I think they will use this gift where it will do the most good,” said Flynt, referring to Law School Dean Susan Duncan and Officer Senior Development Officer Suzette Matthews. “I just want Roger’s name to be in the annals of law school, showing his appreciation for the law school’s contribution to his success and that he has given back to his alma mater. And I think there will be generations of students who will benefit from it.
“There might be something 20 years from now that needs funding – something that would really improve this law school or help a student – and because the donation is not limited, management can use the resources.” funds to meet these unspecified needs. However, its use would make Roger very happy.
Duncan expressed his gratitude for the gift from the Flynt family.
“Although Roger Flynt was instrumental in shaping law school as it exists today, his family’s donation will help us shape its future,” she said. “On behalf of the Faculty of Law, we are delighted that Gaye has established this unrestricted endowment, allowing us the flexibility to support the school and our students in areas most in need.”
Flynt passed away peacefully on October 6, 2020 in Mentone, Alabama, with his wife by his side.
A native of Meridian, he was an Eagle Scout, a member of the Order of the Arrow of the Boy Scouts of America, and a graduate of the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After high school he entered Baylor University on a football scholarship, only staying there for a year because, in his own words, “I was small, but slow,” his wife recalls.
Flynt transferred to Ole Miss, where he joined the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and was proud to be twice elected social president, during which time he established the Ivy League, the fellowship’s annual fall party. His three sons – Mayo, John and Russell – were “in-bond brothers” of Phi Delta Theta and actively carried on the Ivy League tradition.
“Ole Miss was one of the great interests and joys in my dad’s life,” said Mayo Flynt of Jackson.
In addition to philanthropically supporting the university and the law school, Senior Flynt has served as president of the Law Alumni Association and of the University of Mississippi Foundation. He has served on numerous committees and has been honored to be inducted into the Lamar Order as well as the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1962, Flynt enrolled in law school, where he was a member of the Law Review and obtained a Juris Doctor in 1964. He then joined the law firm. Heidelberg & Woodliff in Jackson.
“A few years later he returned to Oxford for what he said was the funniest job he ever had, as assistant lawyer in the United States,” said John Flynt of Jackson. “He, along with his lifelong friends Grady Jolly and Mickey McGuire, thought they stood between the good citizens of northern Mississippi and various bank robbers, smugglers and counterfeiters.”
Russell Flynt recalled a story the family has always cherished: “One of Dad’s most famous witnesses was famous Tennessee Sheriff Buford T. Pusser, who told him while preparing for the witness,” Son, put- me at the helm and get out of the way! ‘”
In 1968, Roger Flynt joined the South Central Bell legal team in Birmingham, Alabama, starting a career spanning more than 30 years in legal and external affairs at AT&T and later at BellSouth. In 1973 he returned to Jackson as South Central Bell’s Attorney General for Mississippi and was involved in legal and regulatory matters resulting from the US government’s dissolution of “Ma Bell” AT&T, leading to the formation of BellSouth.
It was during these years, said Gaye Flynt, that the couple met and fell in love; they married in 1975.
Returning to Birmingham in 1983, Flynt served as deputy general counsel for South Central Bell before being promoted to president of the state of Mississippi and being elected an officer at BellSouth, which resulted in a return to Jackson. There he served as president of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber of Commerce, the Mississippi Museum of Art, and the Federal Bar Association for Mississippi. He also served on the board of directors of Trustmark National Bank.
After serving as legal counsel to BellSouth in Atlanta, he retired in 1998 as executive vice president for external affairs. At the time of his retirement, he was president-elect of the United States Telephone Association.
“Throughout his career, Dad has had many friendships and unique experiences, such as running with the Olympic torch for the Atlanta Games in 1996,” said Mary Kathryn Flynt Wallace of Cincinnati. “It was surprising for his friends who had previously only seen him run from Grove to Vaught-Hemingway to kick off! “
Gaye Flynt said her husband enjoyed “traveling, everything about Ole Miss, birding and, oddly enough, bird hunting. More importantly, he loved spending time with those he loved the most. One of his dearest friends, Grady Jolly, told us, “No one has surpassed Roger in love and loyalty to his friends and family. He was a kind, gentle, virtuous and happy man who was also hardworking and ambitious, as his track record indicates.
“He was known for his talent as a storyteller, his wit and his sense of humor. He was a generous man and many remarked that he was a true gentleman of the South and an act of class.
Individuals and organizations can donate to the Roger Flynt Memorial Law Endowment by sending a check with the designation shown in the line of the memo to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or donate online on http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.
For more information, contact Suzette Matthews at [email protected] or 601-937-1497.