Legacy of Encouragement
C. O. “Okey” McCormick, Jr. was a lifelong member of Nighbert Memorial United Methodist Church where he served in many capacities. He was also active in the West Virginia Annual Conference and, as one of the founders of The United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia, Inc., led a major fundraising campaign to get The Foundation started.
Okey loved the Lord and the church. A believer in the value and importance of education, Okey also loved the church’s college, West Virginia Wesleyan College, from which he was awarded honorary alumni status. He had served on the Board of Trustees of that institution. In 1979, West Virginia Wesleyan College awarded Okey with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.
Mr. McCormick was a successful businessman and entrepreneur in Logan County, West Virginia. It seemed fitting that he would create a scholarship trust to help students from Logan County who wanted to attend West Virginia Wesleyan College. A firm advocate of endowment giving, Okey led by example, creating and then faithfully adding to the C. O. and Anne McCormick, Jr. Educational Trust. Okey not only gave a significant gift to create the scholarship, but also regularly made contributions so that it would grow. He set it up so that it would not begin to make payouts until either he decided it was time, or until his death. Numerous friends and family members around Logan and beyond were memorialized and honored by his consistent gifts to the scholarship fund.
In the fall of 2011, Okey contacted Foundation president, Jeff Taylor, to discuss the scholarship. Through his regular giving and the growth experienced by The Foundation’s investments, the Trust had grown to a point where Okey believed it should make its first award. Okey nominated Lauren Theeke, a student at Chapmanville High School Okey knew from his church.
The Foundation agreed with Okey’s nomination and sent him the check so that he could make the award himself during a worship service. Unfortunately, Okey never got to make the presentation. Clarence Okey McCormick, Jr., died November 19, 2011. Among his important papers, his family members found the scholarship check for Lauren Theeke, and made a posthumous award to her.
Lauren Theeke, now preparing to enter her second year as a student at West Virginia Wesleyan College, is honored to be the first recipient of the award bearing Okey McCormick’s name. In a recent interview, Ms. Theeke said, “Mr. McCormick always encouraged me at church. We were good friends, and I always looked forward to seeing him on Sundays. Even though he has died, this scholarship is a way that he continues to encourage me. The money helps, but what helps even more is to know that Okey is behind me.”
Like many other generous United Methodists, Okey McCormick leaves a legacy of gracious service that will have a multiplying affect for generations to come. We are thankful for Okey and those like him who plant seeds that will bear fruit for the future.
If you would like to consider the possibilities of creating a legacy for future generations, contact The Foundation.