Last week a memorial service was held for John “Jack” McCormack. He had lived a life that made Forrest Gump look like a stay-at-home. During Jack’s 95 years on earth, he witnessed Abbott and Costello doing their “Who’s on first?” debut on Broadway and even before at a burlesque show. He saw Babe Ruth countless times at bat at the Polo Grounds. An attorney for a relatively young company called Texas Instruments back in the 50′s, Jack was asked by TI founder Pat Haggerty to create the Texas Credit Union. Not only did he do just that, he was one of the first to get it going with $5 in 1953. Decades later he was asked to contribute the $5 that would push it over the billion-dollar mark. Jack was vice president of the Society for American Baseball Research, a Silver Life Master of the American Contract Bridge League and the author of articles for The New York Times, USA Today and Baseball Weekly.
In addition to two glorious marriages [Kate O'Brien McCormack from1950 to her death in 1988 and to Janet Sachs McCormack from 1991 to his death], he had five children that he adored — Brien, Cathy, Johnny, Kevin and Mark — in addition to stepchildren, in-laws and grandchildren. Each Saturday the family gathered for lunch with Jack, if he wasn’t traveling the world.
In the 1970′s a costume party was held for his daughter Cathy. Jack wore formal attire with some type of green stringy stuff that looked like seaweed hanging from his shoulders. When asked who he was, Jack was silent. Cathy pointed to a sign pinned to the back of his coat that read, “I am Wallace Hartley who was the bandleader on the Titanic.”
That was the smart, Irish humor that Jack carried throughout his life.
It was not until his memorial service on Tuesday that many learned that he was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He, like many of the Greatest Generation, had not let on that he had witnessed such a turning point in history. If anything, Jack would recall that all he had to face that Sunday morning attack with was his military sword. As for being a member of the Greatest Generation, Jack would have probably said he was just part of the American tapestry with the greatest generations still to come.
On Monday, November 12, Jack will not be present, but so many other Jacks and their children will be at the Hilton Anatole for the Daughters of World War II’s 3rd Annual Veteran’s Day Luncheon following the Veteran’s Day Parade in downtown Dallas.
Their numbers may be dwindling, but their legend continues to grow and inspire.