By Bailey Jarnagin
CLEVELAND, Ga (TMNews) – Truett-McConnell College would not be what it is today without the dedicated involvement of Christ-like men and women from years past. Dr. Louise Holcomb, a member of TM’s first graduating class and one of TM’s first full-time employees, made an impact on this North Georgia campus as a student, secretary, and professor.
North Georgia roots
Holcomb was born and raised in Cleveland, Ga. and actively involved at Mt. Yonah Baptist Church throughout her life.
“Reverend Claud Boynton was our pastor. He was from Blairsville and one of the original founders of Truett-McConnell,” said Holcomb.
At the age of nine, Holcomb made the decision to surrender her life to Christ. She continued to grow her relationship with Christ while serving as the church pianist.
She remembered, “I began playing when I was about ten years old as no one else in the church could read music. I continued in the position off and on until we moved to Gainesville thirty years later.”
Upon graduating from Cleveland High School, Holcomb attended North Georgia College; however, her educational plans changed after meeting her future spouse.
“I met my husband, Jack, on a blind date,” shared Holcomb. “My uncle was dating Jack’s sister. Jack was home on leave from the Navy, and they brought him to my house to meet me.”
Holcomb’s love story lead to marriage in 1946. “It was a banner year for me,” Holcomb recalled. “Truett-McConnell College was founded in Cleveland, the war was over, my handsome sailor came marching home, and we were married.”
The house which the newlyweds turned into a home was conveniently near what would be the launching pad for their exciting future.
Holcomb explained: “We rented a house two doors down from the two-story building that Truett-McConnell would occupy for the beginning years.”
Unexpected job opportunities
The close proximity to what was then Truett-McConnell’s campus made it easy for Holcomb and her husband to become students at the newly established college. Holcomb was also presented with a prestigious job opportunity.
“Imagine my surprise when Dr. L.C. Cutts, the first president, knocked on my door and offered me the job as his secretary,” said Holcomb. “Thus I had the honor of being the first employee after the president.”
The time Holcomb spent working behind the scenes at the college catalyzed her desire to remain in the education field: “I had the opportunity to get experience in so many areas. I got the desire to be a college teacher.”
Making TM history
Both Holcomb and her husband graduated with their associate’s degrees in 1949 and will be remembered as members of Truett-McConnell’s first graduating class. Subsequently, Holcomb did not discontinue her academic pursuits: “I continued my education at Piedmont College where I received a B.A. degree.”
She continued, “I spent the summer at Peabody College in Nashville working on my Master’s in accounting. I continued the requirements for the Master’s degree (M.Ed.) at the University of Georgia. I also received the 6th year degree (E.Ds.) there. I continued until I received the doctorate (Ed.D.) in 1975.”
Holcomb’s multiple degrees were put into practice at Truett-McConnell, where she served as a professor for twenty years.
A family of college students
Meanwhile, Holcomb’s husband played an active role in the shaping of Truett-McConnell’s athletics.
She explained: “He started the first basketball team, the Mountaineers, and they played other college teams throughout the state. He had a girls’ team, but since there were only a few girls on college teams, competition was not as possible. He also formed a baseball team.”
Holcomb fondly remembers the athletes with whom she bonded: “Members of these teams were our boys and girls. They, as well as all TM students, were welcome in our home at any time.”
Holcomb’s husband held the title of Academic Dean at Truett-McConnell from 1957 until 1968. He then became the Director of the Cooperative Educational Services in Ellijay, and Holcomb accepted a teaching positon at Gainesville College, where she spent the next thirty years.
Thankful for blessings at TM
Although Holcomb garnered experiences apart from Truett-McConnell, the college where she and her husband poured so much of themselves will always have a special place in her heart.
“When I think about the influence of Truett, it is so strong that it is almost unbelievable I was given the opportunity to be a part.”
Holcomb continued, “My favorite part of being at Truett was the interaction with the students. It was a real privilege to work with them. A family atmosphere, which still exists today, was quickly formed from the beginning.”
Holcomb is incredibly thankful for the relationships formed at Truett-McConnell. In fact, she includes them in the same category as her own family when thinking back on her full life.
She emphasized: “I loved the students and the people I had the wonderful opportunity to work with, the 64 years Jack and I shared our daughter, Jackie, who was and is such a blessing, and the three most wonderful grandchildren – Jim, Elizabeth, and Michelle.”
She is abundantly grateful: “I have had such a blessed life! God is good!”
Holcomb has had the privilege of watching Truett-McConnell mature over the years. She is confident of the direction in which God is taking the college.
“Truett has certainly evolved over the years, but at the same time the dedication of employees, the family atmosphere, and the Christian atmosphere are still here,” Holcomb proudly stated. “I know its future is bright, and I want to give the college a big thank you!”
Bailey is a senior English major and a freelance writer for the college.Return to News Archive