James L. Burnham (Class of 1956)
Marilyn Collier Burnham (Class of 1957)
Both Jack Holcomb and Louise Crane Holcomb are natives of Cleveland. After high school, Jack served a term in the US Navy during World War II, while Louise Crane attended North Georgia College in Dahlonega. When Jack came home on leave, his sister, Bernice, was dating a young local man named Calvin Crane. Calvin was the uncle of Louise Crane and actually lived with Louise’s family. Through the friendship of Bernice Holcomb and Calvin Crane, the result was that Bernice’s brother, Jack Holcomb, and Calvin’s niece, Louise Crane, met on a blind date, began keeping company and continued a correspondence during the war. The two couples planned their weddings together and were married on May 4, 1946, in a double wedding ceremony.
Louise was employed at the time by the county school superintendent, but when Truett-McConnell College was chartered in July 1946, the man appointed the first president, Rev. L. C. Cutts, came to Louise’s home and asked her if she would come to work for the new college and be his secretary. She agreed, and, when classes actually began at TMC in 1947, both she and Jack enrolled as students. She transferred her credits from North Georgia College, and Jack enrolled as a veteran with GI Bill benefits. Both graduated from Truett-McConnell in its first graduation ceremony, held in June of 1949.
They never left! Both Jack and Louise attended Piedmont College and the University of Georgia and received their bachelor’s and master’s degrees while they continued to work at Truett-McConnell. Louise talks about how much fun it was to be involved in the creation of a new college: ordering textbooks, choosing and purchasing equipment, setting up the books and records, and the hundreds of other tasks that had to be done to start a college from scratch.
Louise was bookkeeper and taught physical education (since the college had no gym and no fitness equipment, PE classes consisted of calisthenics in the front yard of the Henley House; how many remember that?) Jack began to organize a basketball team and a baseball team (the Truett-McConnell Mountaineers) and coached both teams. After he received his degree from Piedmont, he taught math at TMC and an occasional sociology course. Louise explains: “At that time, the college was not accredited so we didn’t have to follow any rules about faculty credentials.”
In 1957, Jack became academic dean/registrar of Truett-McConnell and served in that capacity until he left at the beginning of 1967. Louise taught Spanish and business courses—typing, shorthand and accounting. In 1967 Jack resigned from Truett-McConnell to serve the brand-new Ninth District CESA (Cooperative Educational Services Agency) as its assistant director. Because of its tremendous success, 17 CESAs were organized statewide, and Jack became the director of the newly-organized North Georgia CESA in Ellijay, where he served until his retirement in 1988. The name of the organizations was changed to RESAs (Regional Educational Services Agency).
Shortly after Jack resigned from Truett-McConnell, Louise also left TMC to teach business courses at Gainesville College. She continued post-graduate work and was awarded her doctorate by the University of Georgia.
Dr. Louise Holcomb was named chair of the business division of Gainesville College, a position she held until her retirement in 1997. While Jack was in Ellijay, he served on the Truett-McConnell Board of Trustees and taught off-campus courses for the college.
The Holcombs live in a home on Lake Lanier near Gainesville. They have one daughter, Jackie King, and three adult grandchildren.
Education has been a lifelong passion of both Jack and Louise Holcomb. They have spent their lives encouraging students to complete their education. Twenty year of their lives were invested in the students of Truett-McConnell College, and that investment has paid tremendous dividends in the success of their former students. It’s no wonder that both Jack and Louise Holcomb now sit back and speak with pride of “our students,” for the students they taught truly were “theirs.”
Mark received an early commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army in 1983 and has gone on to achieve his current rank of Lieutenant Colonel (P). He has completed the US Army Ranger, Airborne, Pathfinder, Jungle Operations, and Amphibious Warfare courses, and he is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College.
LTC London has received 21 medals and ribbons including the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He is a recipient of the Order of Saint Maurice, a high honor for distinguished infantrymen. Currently he serves as the Battalion Commander of 1/121 Infantry, a battalion in the 48th Infantry Brigade. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005-2006. His deployment to Iraq was for 12 months, but he was away from home for 20 months.
Mark London met Amy Collins in a psychology class at TMC, and eventually they were married more than four years later. Today they are the parents of two daughters: Lexie, aged 14, and Linzi, aged 11.
Says Amy London: “I accepted fully the responsibility of being a soldier’s wife before Mark and I married. I knew that he would be away from home frequently and that he would sometimes be required to be in places of great danger. I have always trusted God to protect Mark and bring him home safely. It is evident in many instances that God has His hand on Mark.”
Both Mark and Amy London feel that attending Truett-McConnell College was one of the best things they ever did. Amy’s mother had died just a few months before she enrolled in TMC, and she comments that living on campus and making many close friends gave her the sense of family that she had recently lost. TMC is very dear to their hearts because it is the place Amy and Mark met, became best friends, and later husband and wife.