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Catawba Couple Establishes New Scholarship

July 23, 2008

Category: Academics, Athletics

Gregory W. '74 and Gordene "Deanie" McMordie '72 Singleton of New Bern, N.C., have established a new scholarship  at their alma mater in memory of Deanie's father, the late Francis McMordie of Lewisville, N.C.
Preference for the McMordie-Singleton Scholarship at Catawba College will be given to a student-athlete who is a member of the football team, of good academic standing, good character, not attending the institution on a full athletic scholarship, and who has a demonstrated need.
Greg said he and Deanie, whom he met in 1968 at Catawba and married 35 years ago, "have been blessed." They decided to do something to memorialize Mr. McMordie, who died in 2003, and help a deserving student at the same time. Establishing the new scholarship at Catawba seemed a natural choice.      
Greg described his father-in-law as "a great guy with a wonderful sense of family."

"He was a very generous, kind man who rarely had a coarse word for anyone. He was more like a father than father-in-law to me. When we lived in New Jersey and he (Mr. McMordie) was living in North Carolina, he would come visit us a couple times a year, and we would come down to Lewisville to visit with him. Every week, we spoke with via phone.
"Education was definitely important to him," Greg continued, speaking of Mr. McMordie, who graduated from Drexel University and worked for 45 years for Western Electric. "He was also a big sports fan and liked high school and small college football. We spent a lot of time together watching football and golf."
Mr. McMordie, fondly referred to as "Mac," was extensively involved in civic organizations. He was active for many years of service through West Bend Lodge No. 434 as master and as secretary, and was an honorary member of Pioneer Lodge. He was also a member of the York Rite Allied Masonic Degrees, the Winston-Salem Scottish Rite, Knight Commander of Court of Honor, five times presiding officer of the Camel Shrine No. 5, past regal patron of Royal Court No. 17, O. of A. and Eastern Star Chapter No. 309.
Although predeceased by his wife, Catherine, Mr. McMordie is survived by four children — three sons and daughter Deanie, 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Greg came to Catawba from Camden, N.J., on a football scholarship and met Deanie McMordie, who majored in speech pathology. The two were married in 1973, a year after Deanie's graduation, and moved to New Jersey to make their home. Greg completed his graduation requirements at Catawba via independent study, majoring in health and physical education and earning his degree in 1974.
Looking back on their years at Catawba, Greg and Deanie remember its people, both administrators and professors, whom they described as "extremely helpful." "They wanted to see you succeed," Greg said.

Greg remembered then academic dean, the late Charles Turney, as "a serious guy with a sense of humor who made you tow the line, but would also pat you on the back after he booted you in the butt."   Deanie fondly recalled Dr. Karl Hales.
During Greg's time at Catawba, the head football coach was Harvey Stratton and Coach Stratton holds a special place in Greg's heart. "He's the one person to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude," Greg said of Stratton. "He knew how to talk to you and get out of you what he knew you had. I knew that I could rely on him for whatever. He brought out the best in me that's for certain."
With fondness, Greg remembers some of his football teammates and roommates who lived in his residence hall, including Cy Alexander, Bill Godsey, Charlie Butler, Terry Sammons, Tom Christian, James McCray, Harry Monokian, Payton Warren, Roger Johnson and James Kornberger. He made special mention of Gary Kochman, Bill Bartlett and Ike Hill.
Greg was initially signed as a free agent by the Atlanta Falcons in 1972, then the Washington Redskins in the same year, and finally by the Philadelphia Bell in 1973. "But it didn't work out," he explained, noting he was not at 100 percent physically due to a torn ACL injury he suffered in the second game of his senior year at Catawba. "Then I knew it was time to go to work," he said.
Greg began working in the education field, first as a substitute teacher, then as a security guard, later as a physical education and health teacher in Camden, N.J. While teaching, he also earned his master's degree from Rutgers University.   In 2002, he retired as an assistant principal from the Haddon Heights School District in Haddon Heights, N.J. As for Deanie, instead of furthering her educational desires, she chose to devote her time to raising their daughters, Carly and Brooke and following their activities, as well as Greg's eight years of coaching high school football. Several years after Greg retired, Deanie followed him into retirement, after enjoying a successful 30-year career with Verizon in New Jersey. Greg said, "Deanie and I have been privileged to enjoy and spend considerable time with our grandchildren, Taylor and twin boys Che and Desi."
"I'm so glad I chose to come to Catawba and remain at Catawba because of the attention you get, not only as a student-athlete but as a student. At Catawba, you could see your professors for assistance, in the office or in their homes," Greg said.
Continuing the Catawba tradition, Greg helped steer his son and brother to Catawba. Son Gregory R. Singleton '89 lives in Maryland.   Brother Raymond Jones '83 lives in New Jersey and is currently employed as a captain for the police force of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a branch of Rutgers University.
Greg said, "To have known Francis "Mac" McMordie and shared the years we had together is an honor that has shed such a positive light and influence on my life. Deanie and I only hope that in some small way we can share his richness of spirit with others along the way."