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College days: Couple reflects on time at Decatur Baptist

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, April 14, 2018
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Mack and Paulette Mccormick

MACK AND PAULETTE MCCORMICK. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For the McCormicks, moving to Decatur to attend the Baptist college was a culture shock.

Paulette (Garrett) McCormick, who started classes at Decatur Baptist College in the spring of 1964, moved from the city of New Orleans to rural Texas, and she found the school to be “very antiquated.” John “Mack” McCormick, her future husband, hailed from the tiny West Texas town of McAdoo, where his high school graduating class had six students.

“We were polar opposites,” Mack said.

Paulette came to DBC for a business course, and she had family in Decatur. Mack came to play basketball and was brought onto the team on a scholarship after the 1964 fall semester had started.

“All I could do was play defense,” Mack joked.

Being from out of town, they lived on campus in the dorms, and they saw each other often.

“Because it was so small, you knew everybody,” Paulette said. “They would have parties to keep everybody busy because Decatur at that time didn’t have anything to do.”

Mack and Paulette took an interest in each other after they were paired to slide down the fire escape together at the school’s Halloween party. For their first date, they saw “Jailhouse Rock” at the drive-in theater in Decatur. Because of the rules for the womens’ dorm, Paulette had to sign out for their date, tell the school she was leaving with Mack, and he had to bring her back by 10 p.m. for lights out. Even though she had a car, the female students weren’t allowed to drive around town.

“They were really strict on the girls back then,” Paulette said. “I don’t think they were nearly so strict on the boys.”

Because it was a Christian college, all students were required to attend chapel every week.

“Even if you missed everything else, all your classes, you had to go to chapel,” Mack said.

Though the rules were strict, they still had fun. Mack enjoyed success on the basketball team, which placed sixth in the junior college national tournament when he was an upperclassmen, and Paulette was a member of the homecoming court.

“It was only because I was so short, and they thought it would be funny to have a short girl on the end in pictures,” she joked.

When DBC moved to Dallas in 1965, where it became Dallas Baptist University, Mack moved with it. The school in Dallas started with an administration building, two dorms and a tent for chapel.

“It was different there,” he said. “I enjoyed it. Some of the kids I went to school with here moved over there. But we didn’t have much going on.”

Paulette did not make the move to Dallas, deciding to go back to New Orleans for work instead. But she and Mack kept in touch through letters, and he signed her last yearbook’s inside cover to “the sweetest girl in the world.” They married in March of 1967.

Two of Paulette’s younger relatives attended DBU, and the couple visited the campus a few years ago.

“It’s beautiful,” Paulette said.

“I almost didn’t recognize it,” Mack added.

Paulette said it’s a little sad to see the old DBC administration building, now the Wise County Heritage Museum, on the hill and remember the school is no longer there.

“I really did enjoy those college days,” she said.

Memories

MEMORIES – Mack and Paulette McCormick look through one of their old Dallas Baptist College yearbooks. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

DECATUR BAPTIST COLLEGE REUNION

The 30th annual Decatur Baptist College Reunion starts 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Wise County Heritage Museum. Following a morning of recognitions and singing, the guests will meet at First Baptist Decatur for a luncheon. For information on the reunion, call Dr. Ryan Jasperson, 214-333-7240.

Dr. Ron Lyles of South Main Baptist in Pasadena will preach at FBC Decatur Sunday morning. Lyles is a graduate of DBC.

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