Longtime Financial Aid Director Leaves Lasting Legacy at Loras After Nearly 40 Years


Charles “Charlie” McCormick (’52)
Charles “Charlie” McCormick (’52)

The stories about Charles “Charlie” McCormick (’52) are too numerous to count. His impact on the lives of Loras College students is immeasurable.

After serving in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1957, McCormick worked 39 1/2 years at Loras College, the last 28 as the school’s first director of financial aid. McCormick, who died on January 25, 2019, at 88, was instrumental in helping students finance their education. Often, he would help them find part-time jobs, grant money and the additional resources they needed in order to stay in school and graduate.

“He considered the successful lives of the students he helped to be his legacy,” Mary Jensen (’86) of Dubuque, said about her father.

Her brother, Joe McCormick of Dubuque, said: “He was the perfect guy for the job. He cared so much about people. He went out of his way for people.”

One of the students Charlie McCormick helped was Tom Barton (’89).

“I grew up poor and was orphaned at 13 and had zero family support for college,” said Barton, who owns Barton Wealth Management in Dubuque.

“I’m not sure I’d have made it through Loras without Mr. McCormick. His kindness and understanding sure made a difference in my life,” Barton said. “Several times I walked into his office terrified and walked out relieved.”

Charlie and his first wife, Edna, were the parents of six children when she died in 1974 at 43. In 1979, he married Lela (Sweeney) Dunn and added eight stepchildren to his family. Five of the six McCormick children and three of Charlie’s stepchildren all graduated from Loras. They are: David McCormick (’82) of West Des Moines, Iowa; Ruth McCormick (’84) of Dubuque; Mary Jensen (’86) of Dubuque; Helen Gile (’88) of Dubuque; Kevin McCormick (’91) of Pewaukee, Wis.; Michael Dunn (’75) of Dubuque; Marcia Dunn (’76) of La Crosse, Wis.; and Mark Dunn (’85) of Keaau, Hawaii.

“All of those years, when we didn’t have a mother at home, we would come in the afternoon to work with dad,” Gile said. She and her siblings would spend the afternoon at the San Jose pool and then go to their father’s office at the end of the day to go home.

“You knew he was devoted to Loras because he spent so much time there,” Gile said. “When he retired, he would pick my kids up and they’d go for breakfast and then he’d come to Loras and bring his grandkids. They’d stop and get a Lorian or he’d stop and say hi to people. My kids remember that.”

Jensen said Loras was a way of life for the entire family – chili nights and card games with the families of other faculty and staff members, football and basketball games, where Charlie usually worked as a ticket taker.

“Dad loved Loras and Loras helped him be the person he was,” Gile said. She said she hopes those her father helped will pay it forward. “Look at what Loras has given you and help Loras by giving back,” she said.

Charlie McCormick, who financially supported Loras for many years, saw firsthand the return on his investment because he knew many of the students who benefited from alumni giving.

If you want to have an influence on people’s lives, giving to Loras is the way to go,”
— Joe McCormick

Remembering Charlie After he passed away in January, nearly 100 gifts were given to the James and Helen McCormick Family Scholarship in Charlie McCormick’s honor. Knowing firsthand the significance of scholarships, Charlie established the scholarship in 1989 in honor of his parents.

If you would like to make a gift to the James and Helen McCormick Family Scholarship, click the button below or send a check to the Development Office at Loras College (1450 Alta Vista St., Dubuque, IA 52001).

[button text=”Give to the James and Helen McCormick Family Scholarship Fund” url=”https://alumni.loras.edu/giving” color=gold]

For more information, call Joshua Boots (’04), associate vice president for institutional advancement, at 563.588.7329