If you have attended any Bison football games the last two seasons, you have probably seen the McCabe family. Their tent, positioned along the road just north of the Recreation and Wellness Center, stands out. You might have noticed a banner that reads “The Legacy” and other small pennants surrounding the tent with what appear to be graduation years: ’49, ’71, ’92, ’94, ’95, ’96, ’00, ’14, ’15 and ’17.
At first glance, you think, “That’s nice. A pennant for each graduate.” Then you pause, realizing that cannot be right … there are simply too many for one family.
Spend some time with the tent’s owners, though, and you soon realize your first instinct was correct. This family has four generations of OBU alumni, spanning from 1945 to 2014, with current OBU students awaiting graduation to earn their ’15 and ’17 pennants, and more on the way.
A Legacy is Born
Virgle L. Chappell, ’49, was one of the first. He and his wife, Lois Rolf Chappell, ex ’48, took the knowledge gained on Bison Hill and entered a life of ministry and service to the Lord. Their daughter Rosemary (Chappell) McCabe, ’71, remembers the impact of OBU on her family’s life even from a young age.
“My father planted a church in McHenry, Illinois, in 1961,” she said. “We’d come back to Oklahoma for visits and I remember seeing [Raley] Chapel while it was being built.”
The presence of Bison Hill was strong enough in her family that she journeyed back to Shawnee when it came time for college, graduating in 1971. Her husband, Verne McCabe, ’71, likewise had strong family ties to OBU.
“My family always supported the fine arts area of the University,” he said. “My family’s name is on a plaque downstairs in Raley Chapel. We knew this institution was rooted in the gospel, which is so important.”
Verne currently serves as senior pastor of Tulsa Hills Baptist Church and president of McCabe Industrial Minerals, Inc. After decades of serving in the ministry and finding success in the business world, it has been a blessing to see that legacy passed down to his children and grandchildren.
Verne and Rosemary’s daughter, Victoria “Tori” McCabe Peercy, ’94, reflected on the impact OBU has made on her life. “God brought me to OBU, even when I didn’t see it. He brought me to my spouse and to friends. I appreciate the legacy even more now. When we come for a visit, it’s like coming home.”
Tori’s husband Michael Peercy, ’92, currently serves as senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Duncan, Oklahoma. He also spoke of the OBU impact in his life. “For most of us, this is where our lives intersected, where we met our spouses,” he said. “I still get a little teary-eyed when we sing the “Alma Mater” at the end of the game. It means a lot when my kids choose to come here and now it’s not ‘my’ University, it’s ‘ours.’”
Paying it Forward
The McCabes took the heritage first taught by the previous generation and passed it down to their children and grandchildren, with a total of 21 alumni now spread across four generations. Yet, this family is not content to simply keep the idea of an OBU legacy to themselves. They have seen and experienced the value of a Bison Hill education first hand, so many times over, and feel a burning desire to share that with others. As proof of that desire, the family established the Legacy Scholarship Endowment Fund, which will pay more than $1,000 per year beginning this spring, to a student who is a second generation or greater Bison.
“Given the McCabe family’s long history with Oklahoma Baptist University, it is fitting for Verne and Rosemary to provide resources to establish the Legacy Scholarship Fund,” said Will Smallwood, vice president for university advancement. “In every way, this family represents the best of OBU and its mission to transform the lives of students through a Christian liberal arts education.”
Verne is flattered by the attention, but that is certainly not the reason for his family’s generosity. “It is not about us. It is about inspiring others to build a legacy from generation to generation.”
“I’m proud that OBU has more missionaries on the field than any other school. We’re also proud that OBU is distinctively Christian yet academically excellent at the same time. No matter where I go, I know I will always be connected to an institution that continues to impact the world.”