She quit school in the 6th grade when her grandmother that raised her became ill and needed care. “I would have gone back.” she said, “But the people in my class had done gone on, and I was too big. I wanted to be with my class.” Instead she worked. She washed clothes and she saved. “Every month I’d save the same and put it away. I was consistent.” She saved more than she could ever need. So in 1995, in her late 80s, she donated $300,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi, the college in her hometown, to finance a scholarship for low-income students.

In her words, “‘I wanted to share my wealth with the children.” said Miss McCarty, whose only real regret is that she never went back to school. “I never minded work, but I was always so busy, busy. Maybe I can make it so the children don’t have to work as hard as I did.'”