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Judson chancellor, McCrummen, dies at 81comment (0)

March 14, 2002


Alabama Baptists lost an icon March 6 with the death of Norman Henry “John” McCrummen, 81. Current chancellor and former president of Judson College, McCrummen died at his home in Montgomery following a prolonged illness.

He leaves behind his wife, Emma Lee Smalley McCrummen; three children and six grandchildren.

“Dr. McCrummen was a true statesman in Alabama Baptist life,” said Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. “Alabama Baptists have lost a giant of faith. His legacy of faithful service will continue to inspire generations to come,” Lance said. “As we mourn his passing we need to remember the life of commitment he lived.”

A native of Montgomery, McCrummen graduated summa cum laude and first in his class from Mercer University in Macon, Ga. He received a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a doctor of divinity degree from Samford University.

During World War II, he served as a communications officer and was discharged at the rank of major. His tour of duty included the Philippines and Okinawa.

The 20th president of Judson College, McCrummen served from 1970 until his retirement in 1990. McCrummen served longer than any other president at Judson, Alabama’s oldest institution for higher education and one of the nation’s oldest women’s colleges.

Under McCrummen’s leadership at Judson, the college:

Doubled the number of graduates as compared to the previous 20 years.

Received an unprecedented $1.8 million in gifts to the college in 1988. In 1970 gifts totaled $33,033.

Saw the construction of such major campus buildings as the Mead Hall Home Economics Building, the Archibald Hall Dining and Conference Center and the King Lecture Hall.

Increased its endowment from $1 million in 1970 to $3.5 million in 1989.

Revived academic programs, such as the 2–10 program, which allows students to graduate in three years.

David E. Potts, current president of Judson College, said, “As a great apologist, [N.H. McCrummen] ever sought to point his students to God and His purpose, encouraging young women to take the road less traveled, the more narrow but ever so more fulfilling way.

“He brought stature and stability in a time of uncertainty for Judson College,” Potts said. “He courageously charted a course for Judson that sailed against the currents of the times.

“In the ’70s when dozens of women’s colleges were becoming coeducational and many in our own state favored merger or coeducation, he remained faithful to the founding vision,” Potts explained. “While many church-related institutions found it fashionable to be more secular, he held steadfastly to the sacred.”

Roy A. Barnett Jr., chair of Judson’s board of trustees, said, “Dr. McCrummen surely answered God’s call in coming to serve as the president of Judson College. It was a crucial time in the the life of Judson and his leadership was an answer to prayer.

“Dr. McCrummen brought dignity and respect to the office of president. Judson continues to reap the benefits of his leadership and influence,” Barnett said.

McCrummen did not only support Judson while president, however. He continued his support as chancellor until his death and began his support in 1952 when he brought three prospective students from Atmore to Judson. During that time he was pastor of First Baptist Church, Atmore.

McCrummen also served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Selma; Woodlawn Baptist Church, Bir­mingham; and First Baptist Church, Dalton, Ga., prior to his years as Judson’s president.

While president of Judson, McCrummen served as interim pastor on three separate occasions for Siloam Baptist Church in Marion.

“The last years of his life were devoted to the pastoral ministry at Sampey Memorial Baptist Church in Ramer,” Lance noted.

Throughout his life, McCrummen received honors and awards from a variety of areas including the state Legislature, the Freedom Foundation, several educational institutions and local government and civic groups.

In Alabama Baptist State Convention life, McCrummen served on the administrative committee and executive board from 1954 to 1968; president of the Pastors Conference from 1962 to 1963 and president of the Ministers’ Association of Greater Birmingham in 1967.

For 30 years (1959–1989) McCrummen wrote a weekly column for The Alabama Baptist called “Gleams from the Greek.”

McCrummen also enjoyed aviation and golfing. He retained a pilot’s license until he was 70.

He was respected as the prototype of a gentleman. To the end, he kept the serenity, dignity and faith that were the hallmarks of his life.

Barnett said, “Dr. McCrummen loved our Lord. He loved his family as well as his fellow man, and he loved Judson College. Dr. McCrummen’s handprint will forever be on Judson College and the Marion community.”

(TAB)

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