December 6, 1939 – June 11, 2022
“That’s no hill for a stepper.” These words of encouragement, which were handed down from Joe Eddie McCormack’s father to his son, became a rallying cry. Whenever a challenge came along, Joe was heard to claim “Well, that’s no hill for a stepper!” just as his father had before him. Joe Eddie McCormack stepped over his final hill on Saturday, June 11, 2022, at the age of 82.
Joe Eddie was born on a farm in rural Tillman County, near Tipton, Oklahoma, on December 6, 1939, to O.E. and Sarah Joe (Bishop) McCormack. After graduating in a class of seven from Weaver High School in 1957, he matriculated at Central Christian College in Bartlesville. At the end of his freshman year, the growing school moved to a windy hill in Oklahoma City where he helped establish the foundation of what was to become Oklahoma Christian University by digging ditches at the new campus.
On August 31, 1958, he married his high school sweetheart, Lottie Faye West. Together, they stepped over many hills including rearing four children, Tim, Jeff, Steve, and Connie; moving sixteen times in the first nine years of marriage; and joining the faculty of his beloved alma mater. After completing his Bachelor’s Degree and while working on his Master’s, Joe was invited to teach in the Language and Literature Department at Oklahoma Christian (OC), primarily teaching Freshman Composition, American Literature, and courses for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. During his tenure at OC, he served as the Language and Literature department chair from 1972-1979, received the Gaylord Chair of Distinguished Teaching in 1993, received the Faculty Leadership Award in 2002, was named Master Teacher on November 1, 2012, and was named a Professor Emeritus in 2003. In addition to his role at Oklahoma Christian University, Joe served as song leader, deacon, youth minister, Bible class teacher, and elder for the Memorial Road Church of Christ, his church home from 1967 to the present.
Joe had numerous memorable qualities. He was a gifted and creative teacher, whether working with high school students in a small-town speech and drama department, teaching at Oklahoma Christian University, or crafting indelible lessons, mnemonic devices, and experiences for teenagers in the youth ministry at Memorial Road Church of Christ. He always worked to find ways to make lessons purposeful and enduring. Joe was a gifted and creative father, coming up with limericks to commemorate family vacations, fixing full breakfasts for a large family before school, and working with Lottie to plan eventful “Grandaze” trips for their grandchildren. He was fearless when teaming up with Lottie or his Oklahoma Christian colleagues to dress in costume for parties and performances of all kinds. He was a gifted and creative ambassador for Christianity around the world. For many years, as the church’s song leader, he used his knowledge and love of the English language to educate the congregation about the meanings of obscure poetic language in songs they were singing. He developed the university’s degree for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and played a key role in sending out teachers and missionaries around the globe. He taught both at home and abroad, even taking his family to Japan for a year of learning, adventure, and evangelism. Joe loved meeting people from different countries, and even better if he could visit them around the world. Joe is loved as far as the East is from the West.
Joe was preceded in death by his father, O. E. and his mother, Sarah Joe, as well as his sisters, Lura Beth Jones and Reita Joyce Kelly. He is survived by his wife Lottie, his four children, Tim McCormack of Edmond, Jeff (Tina) McCormack of Edmond, Steve McCormack (Lisa Graham) of Natick, Massachusetts, and Connie (Jay) Penick of Edmond, his brother John (Rebecca) McCormack of Vian, his nine grandchildren and spouses: Daniel and Melissa McCormack, Chad and Katie (McCormack) Herndon, Larry and Erin (McCormack) McKay, Michael McCormack, Jack McCormack, Cailin McCormack, Sarah Jo McCormack, Shannon McCormack, and Peyton Penick; his six great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family invites you to a family visitation at Matthews Funeral Home, 601 S. Kelly Avenue, Tuesday, June 14, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., and a celebration of life at Memorial Road Church of Christ, Wednesday, June 15, at 10:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Neema Village, neemavillage.org, or the Tipton Children’s Home, tiptonchildrenshome.com.
The service will also be available via livestream on YouTube at youtube.com/memorialroad.