Always a Redhawk, Indeed

Always a Redhawk, Indeed

To say that Dr. John Holcomb took pride in Southeast Missouri State University might be an understatement. Holcomb, a 1956 alumnus, served as a team physician at Southeast for more than 30 years. He was a member of the Redhawks Club and a season ticket holder. Four generations of Holcombs, starting with his father through his grandson, attended Southeast.

Dr. Holcomb’s ties to Southeast began as a child. He attended the former Campus School from kindergarten through 12th grade and took an active role in planning Campus School alumni reunions. He graduated from Southeast with a biology degree, attended medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and served as a physician in Cape Girardeau for many years until his retirement.

And, when it came to generous support, there were few more faithful than Dr. Holcomb, and his wife, Judy.

The Holcombs made significant gifts to the Athletics Complex Campaign in the early 1990s, the Houck Stadium Campaign in 1999 and 2000, and the Top 20 Club from 2000-2005. They also established the John Holcomb Endowed Baseball Scholarship in 2012. The Holcombs have supported a number of other endeavors at Southeast, including the establishment of several scholarships in the areas of education and science. These include the Nell and Mildred Holcomb Endowed Scholarship in Education established in 1984, followed by many subsequent gifts to the fund, and the John and Judith Holcomb Pre-Med Endowed Scholarship established in 2012.
Last year, they made a significant gift to assist Southeast student-athletes with renovations to the strength and conditioning facilities. Indoor turf, weights, equipment and lifting platforms were added as part of the renovation. The facility now has more space and equipment to handle larger teams or multiple teams training at the same time.

Thanks to the Holcombs, major improvements also will be made later this year to the second floor of the building where athletic academic services are housed, including computer labs, study rooms and academic advising areas.

Even with their generous support, the Holcombs were never that interested in publicity, preferring to honor most of their gifts with the names of family members. But, after such an impactful gift, Southeast and the Redhawks wanted to recognize the unwaivering support the couple has shown. Dr. Holcomb did not want his name on the building but did agree to the training facility being renamed the Holcomb Success Center to recognize the whole family because he was proud of their strong connection to Cape Girardeau, to Southeast, and to the students who will continue to benefit from that connection.

While words alone don’t quite do justice to show the appreciation of those who will use the facility or the number of lives that will be impacted by the generosity, words are certainly not adequate to express the sorrow Southeast felt at Dr. Holcomb’s death in March.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a friend. But, we were pleased he had the opportunity to visit the center named to honor his family, giving students the opportunity to share firsthand and via video exactly how the renovated training facility and the improvements planned for the academic services were making them better student-athletes. And, Judy tells us that joy was mutual.

“John strongly believed that success in education along with success in athletics can lead to great personal achievements in life.  He made this gift, not for purposes of recognition, but simply for the love of the University.”


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