Obituary: Sally McDonnell Barksdale |

Obituary: Sally McDonnell Barksdale

Sally McDonnell Barksdale, a philanthropist and education advocate who lived in Aspen part time, has died in Jackson, Miss., at the age of 60.

She is survived by her husband of 38 years, Internet pioneer and former Netscape CEO James (Jim) Love Barksdale.

During the technology boom of the 1990s, the Barksdales lived in Palo Alto, Calif., and Aspen, while Jim helped build Netscape Communications. After the AOL Time Warner merger with Netscape, the Barksdales returned home to Mississippi in 1999.

In January 2000, the couple created a $100 million endowment to establish the Barksdale Reading Institute. Their gift focused solely on improving the literacy skills of under-resourced Mississippi children in the third grade and below. It remains the largest private gift to early childhood literacy in U.S. history.

She is also survived by three children and four grandchildren.

A celebration of Sally’s life will be held at St. James Episcopal Church at 3921 Oak Ridge Drive in Jackson, Miss., at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The Barksdale family requests that in lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the charity of their choice or to the Ole Miss Women’s Council (Sally McDonnell Barksdale Memorial) of the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677.

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