John William “Jack” MacGorman, long-time professor of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and namesake for its MacGorman Chapel, died Dec. 25 at the age of 100, two days shy of his 101st birthday.
“Dr. Jack MacGorman was a legendary professor of New Testament at Southwestern Seminary for more than five decades,” said President Adam W. Greenway. “His influence in the lives of thousands of students and the churches and saints those students would go on to serve is beyond calculation.”
‘A Southwesterner with few equals’
Greenway described MacGorman as a “Southwesterner with few equals.”
“We grieve the loss of this great man of God with confidence that he is now worshiping his savior in heaven today,” he noted. “I request the entire Southwestern Seminary family across the world to join me in praying for the MacGorman family during this time of great loss.”
Born in 1920 in Nova Scotia, Canada, MacGorman moved across the United States border to Caribou, Maine, at age 7. From 1937 to 1938, he studied at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. These academic pursuits were hindered, however, by the onset of bronchiectasis, a severe lung disease. In May 1939, MacGorman checked into a hospital for one month’s observation. He stayed for more than two years.
In 1941, despite the aid of a renowned Harvard Medical School doctor, MacGorman was dismissed from the hospital as inoperable. Following the doctor’s advice to leave the Northeast for the “high and dry climate of Arizona,” MacGorman moved south. By the time he reached Austin, Texas, however, he had run out of money. Fortunately, it was there that he recovered from his illness, and in 1945, he enrolled in Southwestern Seminary.
In a journal entry from his first day of classes, Sept. 11, 1945, MacGorman wrote of his “deep, deep sense of gratitude” to God for His mercy, for sparing his life, and for bringing him to Southwestern.
This sense of gratitude led MacGorman to commit to attend chapel as often as he could, regardless of who was preaching or singing. He honored this commitment from his first semester as a student in fall 1945 all the way through the 2010s, more than a decade after his retirement.
MacGorman completed his bachelor of divinity and doctor of theology degrees at Southwestern by 1956. In 1948, he was added to the seminary’s faculty as professor of New Testament. Serving 53 years, MacGorman had one of the longest tenures of service in the history of Southwestern.
Connected to the life of the seminary
Following his retirement in 2001, MacGorman stayed connected to the life of the seminary, helping in classes and faithfully attending chapel services and other campus events. Southwestern honored him with a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1986 and the L.R. Scarborough Award in 2008. In 2011, MacGorman was present as Southwestern dedicated the MacGorman Chapel and Performing Arts Center, named in his honor.
In addition to teaching at Southwestern, MacGorman taught and lectured throughout the world and wrote and edited numerous books and articles. He also served in pastoral positions at churches in Maine and Texas.
In 2020, ahead of his 100th birthday, MacGorman donated his personal library to the seminary. The donation included thousands of titles from MacGorman’s time as a student and faculty member, as well as many titles from his father, also a minister. Additionally, MacGorman donated many of his files, notes, and records from classes and sermons dating back to the 1940s.
MacGorman’s daughter, Linda, said there is no better home for her father’s books than the seminary he dearly loved. “Those books were so near and dear to him,” she said.
MacGorman was preceded in death by his wife of 71 years, Ruth, and their son Stephen. He is survived by their seven children, Donald, Robert, Linda, Deborah, John, Adam, and Timothy; 11 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held at noon and a funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 30, at University Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, with interment immediately following at Laurel Land.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the J.W. MacGorman Scholarship Fund at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, to University Baptist Church, or to another charity.