NGU News

Distinguished Alumna, Servant Leader Barbara McCormick Dies

Posted on: April 2, 2021
By LaVerne Howell,

Tigerville, SC (April 2, 2021) Dr. Barbara Morton McCormick, a 1956 North Greenville University graduate and noted benefactor, volunteer, and champion for the institution, died Wednesday, March 31. She was 86.

With a reputation for selfless service, McCormick provided leadership for an array of NGU organizations. She served as NGU Alumni Association president and was a founding member of the Christian Ministry Scholarship Fund organization. In 2002, she organized NGU’s Women’s Auxiliary Board, serving as its first president.

“One of the highlights of my early days as president was driving the McCormicks around Tigerville and listening to their stories about every building and part of campus. They told me about their student days, their trustee days, their time on staff, and so many other things. I was struck by how much they loved the university, its students, and the Christ who is Lord over the community and has made such a difference in their lives. They were passionate about NGU and its special mission.”

A native of Piedmont, SC, McCormick quickly adapted to campus life after arriving at the college in fall of 1954. She wrote for the student newspaper, was a Baptist Student Union council member, and led an exercise class. She met her husband, Dr. J. Lee McCormick (’55), on the North Greenville Junior College campus. They married after graduation and moved to study at Furman University before Lee attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

For more than six decades, the McCormicks were engaged as a couple in active ministry. Barbara raised their three sons, Mike, Steven, and Tim, and was an active volunteer in local church ministry. She served two terms as a board member for the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Lee was a public school teacher and administrator before taking a U.S. Department of Education regional leadership post during the Reagan Administration.

The McCormicks moved back to Tigerville in August 1996, as Lee became academic vice president for North Greenville. Barbara was involved in many programs at the four-year college. Her servant leadership was recognized when she received the Alumnus of the Year Award in 1997. Members of the Women’s Auxiliary Board honored her leadership by creating the Barbara McCormick Endowment in 2007. The scholarship fund supports “worthy female students who need financial assistance” to attend NGU.

McCormick was an exemplary mentor for many North Greenville students, including NGU Vice President for Campus Ministries and Student Engagement Jody Jennings and his wife, Emily (Boitnott) Jennings.

“Throughout the years Dr. Barbara McCormick has been a consistent example of godly character,” said Jennings, a 2001 graduate. “She willingly sacrificed her time and resources to help others. But perhaps her love for Jesus was most clearly displayed through her caring hospitality. She graciously hosted NGU students and many others, providing them a warm meal and spirited conversation. Her laugh was contagious and her joy was evident. I will miss her dearly but celebrate the impact she made on my life.”

“Part of the reason North Greenville immediately felt like home to me as a freshman was through the genuine warmth of Dr. Barbara McCormick,” said Dr. Travis Agnew, lead pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville and immediate past chair of NGU’s Board of Trustees. “She was the epitome of making a difference without needing to hold a position. While I was a student, she taught me the ethos of North Greenville,” said the 2003 NGU graduate. “When I became an alum, she modeled for me the importance of getting involved to serve the next generation of students. While I served as a trustee, I kept witnessing traces of her impact. We are all more of who Christ called us to be due to Dr. Barbara McCormick’s infectious joy, unrelenting commitment, and Kingdom intentionality.”

In recognition of her service in Christ-centered ministry, North Greenville University conferred the honorary Doctor of Christian Leadership degree on McCormick in 2007, surprising her at the same ceremony when Lee was awarded his honorary doctorate.

One of the most enduring tributes to the respected alumna and campus servant was the naming of the Barbara McCormick House. Formerly the John Wood house, the campus landmark was restored and renovated in 2011 and 2012. The McCormick House is a Tigerville landmark and one of the most distinctive features of North Tigerville Road.

In recognition of Dr. McCormick’s life and legacy, President Fant has directed that all NGU flags be flown at half-staff through sundown Saturday, April 3. A commemorative wreath has been placed at NGU’s Barbara McCormick House.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that gifts be made to the Martha Franks Retirement Community, 1 Martha Franks Drive, Laurens SC 29360. Those who wish to give to North Greenville University may designate memorial gifts to the Barbara McCormick Scholarship Fund.


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