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January 2008 

Don Howell (Class of 1984)

   When Donald Howell and Sandra Sadler met as students at Truett-McConnell College in 1959, they had no idea that almost 50 years later they would still have a presence on the college campus.
   Donald and Sandy were married, and eventually their son, Don, enrolled in Truett-McConnell as a student in the fall of 1982.  After he completed his degree work in 1984, Don pursued career options in other locations.
   Finally in July of 2000, he was hired as Truett-McConnell’s network engineer in the information technology offices, and he had come back home to the Truett campus.
   Says Don:  “I was so happy to come back to TMC and work because of the fond memories that I had here as a student.  I was proud that the college let me come back.  I was also so happy to see familiar faces here—Edna Holcomb, Gloria Sutton, George Warwick, Rita Webb, Willie Pruitt, Nora Barrett, Janice Wilson, Don Stanley and Don Palmer, all of whom were here when I was a student.  In fact, I used to work for Don Palmer [director of facilities management] as a student worker cutting wood for the boiler heating system, changing light bulbs and doing maintenance work in the dorms.  I loved doing that.”
   For the past seven years, Don Howell has served TMC as senior network engineer, overseeing the network, email, network cabling, virus protection and network security.  He has been a friend to every student, every faculty member and every staff member of the college, always doing his often-frustrating job with smiles, humor and a gentle and thoughtful manner.
   Don is leaving Truett-McConnell at the end of 2007 to work as Coordinator of Network Operations and Customer Support for the Gwinnett County Public School System, where he will manage the technical support specialists at each school in the system and head up the help desk. 
   Everyone associated with Truett-McConnell College feels that Gwinnett’s gain is TMC’s loss and wishes Don well in his new employment.  His parting words: “I’ve so much enjoyed working with the students here.  They are just a great group of kids.  TMC is by far the best place that I have ever worked.”
   Don Howell and his wife Tracie are the parents of four sons: Cody, 19; Caleb, 11; Blake, 11; and Zac, 9.  The family is active in the Cleveland United Methodist Church, where Don is youth choir director and Tracie is minister of youth.
   Don enjoys fishing, reading and computers (even in his spare time!).  Giving a glimpse into Don Howell’s character, this quotation is carried on the bottom of all his e-mails:  “If God is anything, then He must be everything.  And if He’s not everything, then He is nothing.”—Dick Woodward.

December 2007 


James L. Burnham (Class of 1956)

Marilyn Collier Burnham (Class of 1957)

   When Jim Burnham came to Truett-McConnell in the fall of 1954 as a freshman, he had no idea that one day he would marry a TMC girl and then, many years later, he would marry another TMC girl!  And when Marilyn Collier entered TMC the following fall, she had no way of knowing that sophomore Jimmy Burnham, who would become her good friend, would also become her husband 43 years later.  This story speaks volumes of the strength of the bonds and friendships that Truett-McConnell students have always formed and continue to this day to form—bonds and friendships that last as long as the parties inhabit this earth.
   For Jim Burnham TMC will always be special in his life and memories.  He says: “I was young, green and inexperienced when I arrived at the old campus [on the town square] in the fall of 1954.  I was only 17!  Under the guidance and tutelage of Miss Mullis, I began finding my way spiritually and career-wise.”
   For Jim, the biggest and greatest change was meeting and beginning to date Mary Anne Coffey, also a TMC student.  He says that their courtship and subsequent marriage were life-changing, life-enriching experiences.  In the meantime, Marilyn Collier graduated from TMC in the spring of 1957 and went to work at Toccoa Casket Company in the billing department.  The next year she married Roger Haynie and moved to Athens, while her husband completed his degree at the University of Georgia.
   After Roger’s graduation, the Haynies moved to Laurens, South Carolina, where Roger was employed in management with Milliken Textile.  Their two sons, Richard and Ronald, were born there.  Marilyn worked for H & R Block for 11 years and then for Josten Cap and Gown Company in customer service for 10 years.
   Jim Burnham graduated from TMC in 1956 and continued his education at Mercer University, ultimately receiving both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He and his wife, Mary Anne, were appointed by the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board) as missionaries to Israel, where they served for 21 years.  Jim also served as a US Army chaplain from 1966 to 1970, including a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967-1968.  He earned a paratrooper badge and a Bronze Star, as well as being decorated for heroism in Vietnam.
   Marilyn Haynie’s husband, Roger, passed away in 1980, and Marilyn and her two sons moved to Anderson, South Carolina, in 1985, where she worked as manager of a home health care business.  Her sons grew up, married, and presented her with grandchildren; she now has four grandchildren and four step-grandchildren, whom she describes as “the joy of my life.” 
Jim and Mary Anne Burnham had three children:  a daughter, Teresa Darlene; a son, James L.; and another daughter, Melody Lenora.  Jim now has five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. 
   Mary Anne Coffey Burnham passed away from cancer shortly after Jim’s and her fortieth wedding anniversary.  Before her death, she told Jim that if he wished to re-marry, he was to know that he had her blessing.  As he put it, “Little did I know at that time that I would wed another TMC beauty, Marilyn Collier.”
   Widow Marilyn Collier and widower Jim Burnham renewed their old TMC friendship after more than 40 years because of a suggestion made by another TMC alumna, Alicia Hampton.  Alicia and Marilyn Collier Haynie are first cousins, and both had been students at TMC in 1955-56.  Alicia had met and married her TMC sweetheart, Clyde Hampton, who just happened to be the roommate of Jim Burnham when both were students at Mercer University following their graduation from TMC.  Jim Burnham and Clyde Hampton are still best friends to this day.
   The friendship between Jim and Marilyn soon blossomed into romance, and the two were married in 1998.  The Burnhams live in Williamston, South Carolina, and travel as much as possible.  Jim sometimes does interim pastorates of churches; both stay busy and enjoy trips with their seniors group and church activities. 
   For both Marilyn and Jim Burnham, Truett-McConnell College is a special place, a place of fond memories—not only of the many friendships they made but because some of those friendships turned into long-lasting marriages. 
Comments Jim:  “Thank you, TMC, for enriching my life in manifold ways.”

October 2007 

Jack B. Holcomb
Louise C. Holcomb
Both from Class of 1949

   Since October is the month in which the Jack and Louise Holcomb Education Center will be dedicated at Truett-McConnell College, it seems appropriate to feature the two of them in the Alumni Spotlight this month. The legacy left by Jack and Louise Holcomb at Truett-McConnell and among its students is beyond calculation. They are special people to everyone who knows them.

  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.”


November 2007 

Christopher J. Armstrong
Class of 2000

   Truett-McConnell College alumni can be found in the public service sector, and Christopher J. Armstrong, a current resident of Arlington, VA, is one of them.  
   A native of Fayetteville, GA, Chris Armstrong attended Truett-McConnell from 1998 to 2000, when he graduated with an associate’s degree.  He went on to attend Catholic University, graduating from law school in 2005.  While a student in the law school, he served as vice president of the student body and an editor of the Law Review. 
   Currently he serves in Washington, DC, as counsel to United States Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finance.  He conducts investigations by the Finance Committee in areas such as the pharmaceuticals industry, financial markets, and Medicare/Medicaid.
   Armstrong came to the Finance Committee after serving on the legal staff of the Bush/Cheney 2004 re-election campaign and then as a prosecuting attorney for two years with the United States Office of Special Counsel in Washington, DC.
   He recalls his two years at Truett-McConnell with fond memories: “Truett-McConnell prepared me well for the practice of law and provided me with a grounded worldview that is valuable in the rough-and-tumble world of Washington politics.  I’ll always be glad that I started my higher education in such a wonderful environment.”

September 2007 

Mark London  
Amy Collins London
Both from Class of 1983

    Lieutenant Colonel Mark London received his associate’s degree from Truett-McConnell College in 1983. A day student who had grown up in Cleveland, Mark participated in the ROTC program then on the Truett-McConnell campus and knew early on that he had found his career. He went on from TMC to receive his bachelor’s degree from North Georgia College and, eventually, his master’s degree from Tourno University. 

   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. 



Truett McConnell College at a Glance




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