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School receives major gift from estate of alumna

.... Gift creates scholarship endowment for Ole Miss pharmacy students

Madeline O. Sciacca

Madeline O. Sciacca


hanks to the generosity of the late Madeline O. Sciacca of Slidell, La., who remembered her alma mater in her will, generations of pharmacy students at the University of Mississippi will receive scholarship support.

Sciacca, who obtained her pharmacy degree from UM in 1953, left $400,000 to the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy to create the Madeline Occhipinti Sciacca Memorial Scholarship Endowment.

To honor the gift, Sciacca's 1953 diploma and a plaque bearing her name have been placed in the pharmacy building.

"We are humbled by this tremendous gift," said David D. Allen, the school's dean. "It greatly expands our ability to help young people pursue their dreams of becoming practicing pharmacists and ensures that Madeline Sciacca's name will remain a part of our school for years to come."

Sciacca practiced pharmacy at Walgreens in downtown New Orleans for years. After retiring in the 1970s, she began buying rental properties and buying and selling real estate.

In 2001, shortly after Barbara G. Wells became dean of the Ole Miss pharmacy school, Sciacca contacted her and said she wanted to leave some money to the school for scholarships.

"She wanted to help students, and that fit very nicely with our goals for the school," said Wells, who retired as dean emeritus in December. "That began our 10-year relationship."

During that time, Sciacca told Wells of her fondness for the school.

"She loved the School of Pharmacy," Wells said. "She loved her time here and her memories. She also said her father valued education, and it was important to him that all his children get educated."

Madeline O. Sciacca and her husband Thomas V. Sciacca

Madeline and Thomas Sciacca

Sciacca attended San Marcos Academy, a boarding school in San Marcos, Texas, as did her two sisters, Frances and Fara, and two brothers, Anthony and Gasper, said her niece and the executor of her estate, Leslie Occhipinti of Metairie, La.

"They were all college educated, and they became engineers, lawyers, pharmacists and physicists," Occhipinti said. "Madeline left a nice donation to that academy, as well as Ole Miss."

Sciacca married Thomas V. Sciacca at the age of 47.

"Her husband was truly devoted to her, as she was to him," Wells said. "He was a fine gentleman, and they had a genuine late-life love for each other."

"When she got into real estate, Thomas did, too," Occhipinti said.

He died two years ago, and she died Sept. 5, 2011, at the age of 80, following a long illness.

"Madeline was Italian," Wells said. "She was fiercely loyal to the people and institutions that she cared about. She was a strong-willed woman who fought the good battle against her illnesses the entire 10 years that I knew her."

She took care of both her mother and father before they died.

"She also cared for students and wanted to make a difference in their lives," Wells said. "She wanted to give back and make things better for people. She was very generous, as expressed by her gift to our school, and she is an excellent role model for our students and for all of us in pharmacy."

The Madeline Occhipinti Sciacca Memorial Scholarship Endowment is open to accept gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, contact Raina McClure at 662-915-6967 (office), 662-832-7137 (cell) or, visit, or mail a check with the endowment noted to The University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677.

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