Baylor Legacy Award: Kate McLane Dimmitt

Awarded to individuals who demonstrate extraordinary service and philanthropy to Baylor or to causes that fit our mission as a Christian university

While growing up in Cameron, Texas, Kate McLane Dimmitt, BBA ’56, remembers her church receiving visits from the Baylor Religious Hour Choir, which greatly influenced her perception of Baylor.

“Ministry students would come and preach and we got the cream of the crop every time. And when the BRH Choir came, that made almost every young person say, ‘Oh, I want to go to Baylor.’ That was a really wonderful selling point,” says Dimmitt, a 25-year resident of Temple, Texas.

On a visit to campus, Dimmitt was struck by its beauty and friendly atmosphere. She soon became a Baylor freshman, sharing a two-room suite and a bathroom in Alexander Hall with five other young women.

“The rooms were designed for two people, but this was near the end of the Korean War when Baylor had all those temporary buildings for the military, and we didn’t complain. It was all such a wonderful experience,” she notes.

On May 11, 1953, at the end of Dimmitt’s freshman year, the deadliest tornado in Texas history struck Waco, devastating downtown while killing 114 and injuring 597. It struck without warning. As it hit, Dimmitt was in the Waco Theater with friends watching Sombrero starring Ricardo Montalban.

“The lights went off. We thought, ‘Well, golly, I wish it would come back on.’ Then we went out to the cashier out front, and we asked for our money back. Times were hard!” laughs Dimmitt, who did not yet know a tornado had hit.

Fearing that the tornado could return, the Alexander dorm mother gathered all the students in her hall to the middle of the building.

“We were all kind of anxious, and we had our jeans on. In those days, something bad had to happen for girls to be able to wear their jeans or slacks,” she recalls. “We were all upset and crying and praying, and the tornado did not come back. When something horrible happens, everybody has an idea it’s the end of the world, that God’s saying this is the last call. And so we lived through that and it was terrible. Baylor’s campus was actually harmed very little, but it was a most memorable end to a freshman year anywhere, I’d say.”

Dimmitt was two years ahead of her brother, Drayton McLane, BBA ’58. She says their mother occasionally would ask Drayton to screen Kate’s blind dates.

“I was really shy when I got to Baylor, but as the middle child, they say that I always sought the attention—maybe I was misunderstood,” laughs Dimmitt.

After Baylor, Dimmitt moved to Houston and worked for Tennessee Gas Transmission Co. She soon married Malcolm R. “Mac” Dimmitt, an assistant U.S. District Attorney. When he died suddenly in 1970, the young widow, then with a small daughter, went to work as a legal assistant for a law firm, now Sullins, Johnston, Rohrbach and Magers, until she moved to Temple in 1989. In 1995, Dimmitt founded The Dimmitt Foundation, which later changed to The Dimmitt Garrison Foundation.

One of her favorite Baylor-related activities is getting together with her former classmates—a group that calls themselves “The Baylor Chicks of ’56”—for such Baylor events as Spring Fling.

“The wonderful thing about Baylor is that the friends you make are lifelong friends,” she says.

Dimmitt is active in the First Presbyterian Church of Temple. She has volunteered for Meals on Wheels, the City Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the Board of Trustees for Erskine College in Due West, S.C.

A longtime Baylor advocate, Dimmitt and her family gave the 48-bell, 22-ton McLane Carillon to Baylor in 1988. As the bells ring from atop Pat Neff Hall, the carillon’s melodies are a treasured part of daily campus life.

Dimmitt, who was named the 2005 Distinguished Baylor Woman of Central Texas, has supported student scholarships and McLane Stadium construction, among other pursuits. She is a member of the Endowed Scholarship Society and the 1845 Society. Previously, Dimmitt served on the President’s Scholarship Initiative Steering Committee and the Baylor Development Council.

Dimmitt is excited about the enthusiasm generated by McLane Stadium, and she hopes it will remain prevalent among the student body for years to come.

“We have such an exciting football team and that helps with the whole Baylor experience,” she says. “The games bring everybody together. Everyone wants to be a part of it.

“For our family, being part of the larger Baylor family has really been the underpinning, the way we have lived our lives, the company we’ve kept. It’s a connection that our family shares without really talking about it. It’s been who we are,” explains Dimmitt, whose family is made up of fellow Bears, including her daughter, Katie Garrison, BSEd ’85, and husband Jimmy Garrison, BBA ’85, along with their children, Martha Garrison, BS ’12, and Sam Garrison, a Baylor sophomore.

“We see the importance of the ones that have come before us that have given us inspiration and love for Baylor. And, you want to create that same inspiration, love for those that follow after you in your family, and through Baylor scholarships, for others as well,” says Dimmitt, who has encouraged her family to give back.

“Together, we are creating a legacy for the love of Baylor in future generations,” she continues. “What a delight it is to meet the young recipients of your scholarship. They are all extremely grateful and gracious and wonderful. It’s great that they come and learn to love Baylor as you did, and then they take that love out to the world.”