Mississippi State University


Donald W. ZachariasDonald Wayne Zacharias, 77, president emeritus of Mississippi State University, died March 3, 2013, in Starkville, Mississippi. He was the beloved husband of Tommie Kline Zacharias, his wife of 53 years.

A public memorial service celebrating the life and service of Dr. Zacharias will be held Thursday, March 7, at 11 a.m., in the MSU Colvard Student Union's Foster Ballroom. A reception and time of fellowship will follow. Parking will be available at the Palmeiro Center, next to Humphrey Coliseum, and shuttle buses will transport guests to and from the Union. The shuttle service will run every 10 to 15 minutes beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Born on Sept. 28, 1935, Don was the son of William and Estelle Newlon Zacharias of Salem, Ind. He was a devoted servant to higher education during his long career, which included 12 and one-half years as president of Mississippi State University (1985-1997). His was the second longest tenure in the institution's presidential history, which dates back to 1878.

Don came to Mississippi State from the presidency of Western Kentucky University, where he served from 1979 to 1985 and where a residence hall was named in his honor. At Mississippi State, a co-residential living-learning community that includes four residence halls was designated in 2008 as Zacharias Village, paying tribute to Don's lifelong commitment to student achievement.

Don's career began at Indiana University, where he earned both a master of arts degree and a doctor of philosophy degree. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Georgetown College in Kentucky, where he was later awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law for his distinguished contributions. His exceptional experience in higher education led him to positions as executive assistant to the chancellor of the 14-campus University of Texas System and as assistant to two presidents of the University of Texas at Austin. Don also held tenured professorships in communication at UT, IU and MSU, receiving teaching excellence awards from all three institutions.

In addition to his wife, Tommie, he is survived by two sons, a daughter and three grandchildren, all of Boulder, Colo. The children are Alan Scott Zacharias (wife, Nancy Ann Huff), Eric Neil Zacharias (wife, Sarah Rollins Zacharias), and Leslie Kline Zacharias; grandchildren, Luke Harrison Zacharias, Katherine (Kate) Kline Zacharias, and Ike Zacharias Shanholtzer. He also leaves behind a sister, Mary Catherine Zacharias Collier of Yucaipa, Calif.

In lieu of flowers, and should friends choose to make memorial gifts, the family suggests these be directed to the MSU Department of Communication, c/o MSU Foundation P.O. Box 6149, Mississippi State, MS 39762 or to the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, 105 North Montgomery St., Starkville, MS 39759.

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