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Ties That Bind

Feb. 28, 2008

Baylor University alumna and former Baylor First Lady Mary Russell McCall was presented with one of the University's most distinguished awards--the Baylor University Founders Medallion--during the Jan. 28 Founders Day ceremony in Waco Hall. Established in 1969, the Founders Medal is reserved for men and women whose service and contributions have been unusually significant to the life and future of Baylor.

McCall has had the unique opportunity to invest her life in Baylor through many roles: student, professor's wife, parent, First Lady and alumna.

"If you've had a chance to meet Mary McCall, you know her charisma fills every room which she enters," said Baylor President John M. Lilley. "Baylor University is immeasurably blessed by the lifelong dedication and faithful servant-leadership of Mary Russell McCall."

A member of Baylor groups such as Heritage Club, the Endowed Scholarship Society, Old Main Society and the Medallion Fellowship, McCall's loyalty to Baylor was recognized in 1982 with the W.R. White Meritorious Service Award. Because of her unceasing service to her community, Gov. George W. Bush honored McCall in 1995 as a "Yellow Rose of Texas," a distinction reserved for women who have made significant contributions to their communities and to Texas.

"The one continuity in my life has been Baylor," McCall said at a luncheon following the ceremony. "That 'good old Baylor line' is all over the world, and the mutual love for Baylor that we all have is the tie that binds."

While a student at Baylor, McCall met her future husband, Lloyd Russell. The couple moved away during World War II while Lloyd served the country, but returned to Baylor following the war, where Mary completed her master's degree and Lloyd served as baseball coach.

The Baylor family helped Mary persevere when Lloyd passed away in 1968. Mary eventually found a new spouse from that same Baylor family; she married University President Abner McCall on Christmas Day 1970 and went to work as the new First Lady of Baylor. Her work at Baylor has ranged from establishing scholarship funds to advising a sorority. The chapel in the Stacy Riddle Forum was dubbed the Mary McCall Chapel in her honor.

Baylor University was chartered Feb. 1, 1845, and each year the Founders Day celebration is observed on the Monday or Wednesday nearest that date.

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