“Time presses in on him from every side. Curricula and conferences are the order of the day. Yet amid the intellectual trappings, his eyes looked into the soul, and we were glad that someone knew where the education was.”
Written almost 30 years ago for the 1972 Aerie, these words express both for then and now Bailey McBride’s impact on life and learning at Oklahoma Christian. Bailey McBride is loved and revered by students and alumni. His role as a friend and mentor is legendary. His ability to catalogue and remember the details of former students’ lives - their hometowns, careers, and children’s names and ages - is a constant amazement. Does he have a hidden memory chip in his brain to store all that data?
Sustained by their love for each other, Bailey and Joyce have enlightened the lives of three decades of students who have chosen the windy hill’s 200 acres for their college experience. Joyce’s “honey” and “darling,” authentic indicators of her Southern roots, have comforted many a homesick student, newlywed or young mother. Bailey’s concern for the nuances of students’ lives has restored humanity to innumerable fractured souls. Together, they have survived the sit-ins and cataclysms of the 1960s, the bell-bottoms and sideburns of the 1970s, the self-absorption and financial chaos of the 1980s and are now traversing the choppy waters of Generation X.
Though they do not seek glory, they are worthy of honor. In 2004, Bailey was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame, and Oklahoma Christian announced an endowment to establish and support the Bailey B. and Joyce McBride Center for Faith and Literature. In 2011, Dr. McBride earned the Gaylord Chair of Distinguished Teaching Award.
When Bailey left the thriving confines of Tulsa’s Will Rogers High School and traveled north to study at struggling Central Christian College in Bartlesville, did he know his choice would inalterably mold his life? When Bailey and Joyce returned to Oklahoma in 1966 as young parents and cast their lot with Oklahoma Christian, did they envision that the treeless fledgling campus would become the focus of their lives’ work?
Surely not. But as way led on to way; as Bailey moved from a faculty post to become academic dean, vice president, provost, director of the Institute for Excellence in Learning and OC’s Honors Program; as they became indispensable leaders at Memorial Road Church of Christ and Joyce’s pre-kindergarten class became a revered institution among that community, the years flew by with increasing speed.
Benny, Joyce’s brother, left his beloved Tennessee to join the growing family. The McBride children, Melissa, Lynette and Michael, grew up, graduated from Oklahoma Christian and established families of their own.
And through it all, one thing remained the same: Bailey and Joyce’s ongoing investment in the lives of people. There must have been a tremendous pull to quit, not to care, to say “enough.” But they didn’t, and won’t. This investment, a manifestation of their servant hearts, endures as the lasting legacy of Bailey and Joyce McBride.