HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – John R. McCormick, 91, the man believed to have given Huntsville, Ala., its nickname, “The Rocket City,” answered his last roll call Tuesday, May 15, 2012.
He was born in Rock Falls, the eldest son of Maurice J. and Isabel (Ribordy) McCormick.
He was an author, educator, businessman and Marine. His award-winning book, “The Right Kind of War,” was a thinly veiled account of his wartime experiences as a member of the Marine Corps’ elite 4th Marine Raider Battalion and later the 4th Marines. He was wounded four times. He participated in deadly jungle fighting during the Solomon Islands Campaign, amphibious landings at Bairoko Harbor, Enogai Inlet, Vangunu and Emirau. Further, Further, he was in the first wave during the invasion and liberation of Guam, and later the invasion and capture of Okinawa. Also, he was among the first allied troops to land in Japan, securing Japanese military gun emplacements ringing Tokoyo Bay. This important task was completed prior to the official surrender ceremonies.
When he returned from overseas, he took advantage of the GI Bill to earn B.A., M.A., and PhD degrees in English and taught at the University of Alabama until he founded the Communications Skills Company in 1959, a firm that conducts seminars on improving individual writing and speaking skills. The business is in its 53rd year of operation.
He was an extraordinary man from a extraordinary generation, during an extraordinary time in our country’s history. He will be missed.
Survivors include his son, Michael J. McCormick; daughter, Elizabeth A. McCormick; grandchildren, Judson Bailey III, Aidan Bailey Seiler and Patrick J. McCormick; and great-grandchildren, John Bailey, Mark Bailey, Rowan Seiler and Sloan Seiler. Locally he is survived by his sisters, Marjorie Staelens and Rita Bishop; and nieces, Cynthia Whitebread of Dixon and Joan Harms of Sterling.
He was preceded in death by his much beloved spouse, Mary Jane McCormick, whom everyone affectionately called “Honey.”
Visitation was May 17 at Laughlin Service Funeral Home in Huntsville. The funeral mass was May 18 at St. Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church in Huntsville. Burial was at Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Wounded Warriors at www.woundedwarriorproject or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.