After 68 years of living a most honorable life, Dr. Mary Evelyn Hitchcock was called home by her Lord and Savior the morning of May 23rd, 2021. Mary was born September 16, 1952 in Durant, Oklahoma to Ray and Milburn Hitchcock of Wapanucka.
She was a Wapanucka native and a 1970 graduate of Wapanucka High School. She attended Murray State College, then transferred to Southeastern to earn her B.S. in Elementary Education in 1974. She received her Master’s in Special Education from Southeastern in 1977 and her Ed.D. in Elementary Education from the University of Oklahoma in 1989.
At age 25, she was named principal at Wapanucka Elementary School and served five years before deciding to return to the classroom. She taught in the Durant Public Schools for two years before beginning her career at Southeastern where she was a member of the faculty from August 1985 to July 2003. During her tenure, she was Chair of the Educational Instruction and Leadership Department, in addition to serving three years as Director of Teacher Education. She co-chaired the 2002 National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) site visit and served on numerous Southeastern committees. She was a member of a state committee for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in Oklahoma and helped for 10 years with initial training for teachers. While fulfilling these various roles, she also found time to publish numerous articles and make presentations across the United States with Learned Societies for Education. She was granted the title of Professor Emeritus in 2003. One of her greatest honors was being named in 2008 as one of Southeastern’s Distinguished Former Faculty.
Throughout the years, Mary enjoyed her special friendships with her many students. She had an uncanny ability to connect with people. Even though she was their professor and mentor, she was also their friend. Because she impacted so many individuals during her remarkable teaching career, her positive influence was felt far and wide.
Mary was a “giver”... If someone needed help, she gave it. It was not unusual for her to receive an email or text in the wee hours of the morning from a current or former student. She responded with patience, gave valuable advice, and delivered meaningful encouragement. She was always there for them!
After retirement, Mary couldn’t fully step away from education, so she began a new chapter in her career at Southern Nazarene University (SNU) in 2007 - where she taught, counseled, and mentored students as they pursued a degree in either the master’s program or the doctoral program. Dr. Mary, as her SNU students called her, taught Evaluation of Curriculum and Instruction to several hundred SNU master’s students. As a beloved advisor and professor, she prepared them well for their futures in administration. Respect and love for Dr. Mary was immense and there was great appreciation of her knowledge and of her commitment to the students and the University community.
Mary’s love for clothes and shoes helped land a post-retirement dream job at Marie’s in Durant where she worked for 15 years. Former students and parents of former students would come into Marie’s to shop and getting to see Mary was a bonus! She was an asset to this business and treasured being a part of “Team Marie”.
Mary followed her Sooners and Southeastern athletics and was known to have a game streaming on her phone while at family events. She also loved being a part of the registration team for Southeastern’s Whang Bang and Gridiron Golf Tournaments, as well as the Presidential Golf Classic.
Mary loved her family deeply. She was Dr. Hitchcock, Dr. Mary, and Mary to most people, but she was most proud of the title Aunt Meme. She cherished her nephews and niece and loved her great-nieces and great-nephews like grandchildren; they were truly her most precious blessings. One of her greatest joys was sharing her love of reading with the children. She traveled all over to watch them play sports and was a phone call away when they needed her. She loved to teach and they loved to learn from her. She leaves them with wonderful memories of her love and laughter.
Mary is preceded in death by her mother and father, and sister Nancy Lowe.
She is survived by her brother, Tommy Hitchcock and his wife Marilyn of Durant; Patricia Hitchcock of Durant; Niece Stephanie Cain and husband John of Caddo; Nephew Kevin Hitchcock and wife Julie of Durant; Nephew Chad Hitchcock and wife Jenilee of Durant. Great-nieces and great-nephews Trent Cain, Lauren Cain, Joshua Hitchcock, Jonathan Hitchcock, Katelyn Hitchcock, Elizabeth Hitchcock, Kaylee Hitchcock, Lincoln Hitchcock, Nash Hitchcock, and Liam Hitchcock. And a host of cherished friends.
Pallbearers are Jimmy Don Tony, Kenneth Cleveland, Donnie Joines, Dr. Jerry Polson, Don Hudson, and Morris Sloan. Honorary pallbearers are Kevin Hitchcock, Chad Hitchcock, John Cain, Trent Cain, Joshua Hitchcock, Jonathan Hitchcock, Frank Lowe Jr., Cody Lowe, and C.D. Robertson Jr.
Mary always said, "I tell my students if they find just half the happiness I discovered in teaching, then they will be oh, so blessed.”
Family hour will be from 1-2:00 PM before the start of the service on Wednesday May 26th at the First United Methodist Church in Durant, Oklahoma. A celebration of her life will begin at 2:00 PM with Dr. John Breon officiating. Her final earthly resting place will be the Tishomingo City Cemetery in Tishomingo, Oklahoma.
To continue impacting others, in lieu of flowers the family requests contributions be made to the Dr. Mary Hitchcock Memorial Fund at Southeastern Oklahoma State University; Southeastern Foundation, 425 West University Blvd., Durant, OK 74701 or online at www.se.edu/giving .
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