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Book remembers University sports, war hero

March 26, 1997

Matthew Lester / The Baylor Lariat

Mary Hartman speaks Tuesday about her book 'Texas Granite: Story of a World War II Hero' and her relationship with Jack Lummus, the subject of her book.

By Kelly Maher

Lariat Reporter

Jack Lummus was not just a war and football hero--he was a dearly loved and cherished man as well, those who knew him said Tuesday.

Lummus, a former University student and football and baseball player, was tragically killed at Iwo Jima during World War II. Lummus' former fiancee Mary Hartman spoke to a tightly knit crowd about the man and the book that she has written about him 40 years after his death: Texas Granite: Story of a World War II Hero.

A reception was held in honor of Hartman and the man she said she truly misses.

Present at the reception were some of the University's greatest, including Jack Wilson and Sam B. Boyd, fellow teammates and classmates of Lummus who swapped stories about Lummus' time at University.

'I think he was the greatest outfielder I saw, even better than any pro or semi-pro player I ever saw,' Wilson said.

Boyd said, 'One snowy afternoon, Lummus tackled my wife and covered her with snow. He was always so unpredictable.'

The reception was also attended by several family members of Lummus, including Sue Merit, Lummus's sister.

Tommy Turner, veteran writer for The Dallas Morning News and retired press secretary to former University president Abner V. McCall also reminisced about Lummus.

'I never knew him personally but I felt I knew him through writing about his remarkable life,' Turner said.

Keith Randall, University public relations director, introduced Hartman by saying, 'This is a special event in the life of Baylor. Lummus is one of the greatest war heroes ever.'

Hartman met Lummus in 1943, and two weeks later she proposed to him. Her mother wanted her to wait until the war was over to marry him; Hartman greatly regrets this decision.

As part of her healing process, Hartman decided to write the book about his life 40 years after his death. She wanted to find out all she could about the man she loved but was never able to marry.

'There were so many things I didn't know about him,' Hartman said. 'I knew he was 6 feet 4 inches. I knew he was a marine lieutenant. I knew I was madly in love with him. I always had this picture of Jack as some great white knight. I came to find out that this was true.'

Hartman's book examines Lummus' life as a football and baseball star at Ennis High School, Baylor and in the professional ranks, before he joined the Marines with the outbreak of World War II. Hartman also described how Lummus received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Lummus is one of two former University students to win the Medal of Honor.

'It is very difficult to tell the story, and it's hard for his family to hear it,' Hartman said.

When Lummus was a marine lieutenant, he was trying to get his men ready to go back into battle again when he was hit in the shoulder by a grenade.

'He kept going, just like he would in a football game,' Hartman said.

Lummus then stepped on a land mine. Legend has it that he tried to stand up and was heard saying, 'The New York Giants just lost a damn good receiver.'

Lummus was taken to the hospital where he died several hours later.

At the reception many reflected on what a remarkable man Lummus was, and how his life should be set as an example for all.

'I can see his life if he would have lived; he would have made a difference,' Boyd said.

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