Rev. Clifford C. McCormick, 84, United Methodist pastor

October 19, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The Rev. Clifford C. McCormick, a retired United Methodist minister and former chaplain of the state's Springfield Hospital Center, died of complications from neck surgery Oct. 12 at Carroll Hospital Center. He was 84.

Mr. McCormick was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and attended North Carolina State, Cornell and George Washington universities. During World War II, he served in the Navy as a pharmacist's mate in the Pacific.

"He was searching about what to do with his life. His mother wanted him to be either a doctor or a lawyer, but he wasn't sure," said his wife of 56 years, the former Margaret "Peg" Rowland. "After the war, he returned to George Washington, but his grades weren't all that great."

Distraught over his lack of academic success, Mr. McCormick hiked along the Potomac River to a rural area where, his wife said, he intended to end his life.

"He came upon two little boys who were drowning and he heard their cries for help. He was going to take his life and in saving their lives, his own was saved. It was then that he decided to become a minister," Mrs. McCormick said.

Mr. McCormick earned his divinity degree in 1953 from Westminster Theological Seminary in Westminster, and was ordained that year.

He was pastor of the Strawbridge and Calvary United Methodist churches in Baltimore during the 1960s, and then served at Friendship United Methodist in Chesapeake Beach before being named pastor in 1969 of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in New Windsor.

A social liberal, Mr. McCormick fought racism during the 1960s, and his views did not always coincide with those of his parishioners.

While at Strawbridge, he established Operation Crowded Ways, an organization that attempted to find solutions for inner-city problems. "One of his members suggested that he go over and find a church on Pennsylvania Avenue," Mrs. McCormick said.

In 1974, he left St. Paul's after being appointed Protestant chaplain at the Springfield state hospital in Sykesville.

"We had a need here and he became our chaplain," said Betty Jean Maus, director of volunteer services at the hospital and longtime friend.

Mrs. Maus called him a "quiet man who was easy-going and never raised his voice."

"After leaving Springfield in 1988, Mr. McCormick served as pastor of Brick United Methodist Church near New Windsor until retiring in 1993.

"He didn't have time for hobbies. Church was his life," Mrs. McCormick said.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Paul's, 200 Main St. in New Windsor.

In addition to his wife, Mr. McCormick is survived by two sons, William M. McCormick of Middletown and J. Michael McCormick of Idaville, Pa.; a daughter, Joan Yatsevitch of Santa Fe, N.M.; 10 grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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