It’s always a wonderful thing to see someone you know receive a high honor. It’s even better when that person is so very deserving and when the honor is bestowed by an institution that means so much to him.
Such was the case on Oct. 4, when Pascagoula’s David O. McCormick received the Alumni Service Award at his alma mater, the University of Mississippi. This is one of the school’s highest honors and was presented at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony in conjunction with Homecoming weekend at Ole Miss.
David grew up in Long Beach, where he was a stellar point guard for the Bearcats’ basketball team. He graduated from Ole Miss in 1977, then from the university’s law school in 1980. Upon graduation, he came to Pascagoula and joined the law firm of what is now Cumbest, Cumbest, Hunter, and McCormick, of which he has been managing partner since 1991. He and his wife Susan, a Pascagoula native, have two daughters, Sarah Katherine and Caroline, both PHS and Ole Miss graduates, plus grandson Mac.
I first met David shortly after he moved here while playing church basketball (my First United Methodist team crushed his Eastlawn Methodist squad, but, hey.) Two things about him were immediately apparent to me: he was extremely competitive, and he had a deep love for Ole Miss. Yeah, that was a pretty good formula for the two of us becoming friends.
Over the years, I have watched David and Susan as they have shown their affection for the University of Mississippi in so many ways. The McCormicks have supported OM with their time, talents, and gifts through countless means and methods.
It’s also the simple things that stick out to me as well. Back when we were young guys building careers and raising families, I can’t tell you how many treks we made to Oxford to watch the Rebels play, often after our kids’ activities on Fridays, eventually staying in whatever motel we could find after driving through the night. Also, just watching David live or die with results from Ole Miss games, like many of us do for our various alma maters, has always been a real point of bonding for us.
The examples above refer to sports (and I mean all sports), but it’s much more of a commitment for David than that. He always puts academics at the top of the priorities list and supports all university endeavors in that realm accordingly.
It’s no surprise, then, that David has served in numerous positions on behalf of Ole Miss, including president of the Jackson-George County Ole Miss Alumni Club, president of the Ole Miss Law Alumni, and president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards Event was very, very cool. I was honored to be there and witness not only David’s moment but also the other proceedings of the evening. The 2019 Ole Miss Hall of fame Class was rolled out, and what a class it was. Included were Jake Gibbs, who was All-American in both football (third in the Heisman balloting) and baseball, one of my childhood heroes; Richard Howarth, who opened the now world-famous Square Books in Oxford; Kimsey O’Neal Bailey, a four-time All-SEC basketball player, the first African-American Miss Ole Miss, and now an ultra-successful pharmacy executive for a Fortune 50 retail chain; and several others. All gave great talks about their life’s experiences and their fondness of and gratitude toward Ole Miss.
I was deeply touched by what each award recipient had to say, but none more so than my friend David McCormick. David spoke from the heart and with palpable emotion about what Ole Miss means to him, and it came across with great effect. It was a wonderful evening for David and a wonderful evening for Ole Miss.
If you know David, you know that he goes about his good works quietly, never seeking special thanks or recognition. When there is a cause in Pascagoula, be it his church, his friends, or the community at large, he is always ready to do what he can. On Oct. 4 up in Oxford, he was appropriately recognized for his lifelong exceptional support of his alma mater. When Ole Miss calls, David is there. Hotty Toddy, my friend.
Richard Lucas may be contacted at [email protected].