When Bob McCreary (’61) was inducted into the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame in the fall of 2013, he credited individuals in his life for helping him along the way. “Individuals make a difference in your life,” he said.
That has been Bob’s story – individuals making a difference in his life.
It started with a loving family that had little but lacked nothing. The family of six shared a four-room house that had outdoor plumbing. “My brothers and I often talk about how we wouldn’t trade that life for anything,” McCreary stated. “It taught us to be humble, to be determined and to love. We had love; we were rich.”
In rural Caldwell County where he grew up, his first grade teacher, Mrs. Matthews, showed him that his height was a benefit, not an embarrassment. Mrs. Kincaid, his 11th grade teacher, told Bob that he could be or do anything he wanted; all he needed to do was apply himself. And, his high school football coach, Jim Newsome, transformed him from a good player to a great one.
Then, there were scholarship donors who made it possible for Bob to attend Wake Forest as a student-athlete. Once here, Doc Martin made it impossible for Bob to leave, even after a devastating knee injury. Coach Bill Hildebrand taught him more about the game he loved, and Dr. Smiley and Professor Walton believed in his academic pursuits and encouraged him along the way. He found friendship among his fraternity brothers – a bond that lasts today – and together, they have shared the victories and defeats in life.
Through his time in the NFL, he encountered more individuals that made a difference in his life. But, he eventually returned to his roots when he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue the furniture business. After success as a salesman, Bob founded McCreary Modern Furniture headquartered in Caldwell County.
Bob’s story bears witness to the power we all have as individuals to make a difference. Through a kind word, education, scholarship dollars and friendships, Bob’s life was changed. At Wake Forest, we celebrate people like those that influenced his life – people who lead lives that matter.
Recently, Bob turned the tables and became that influential individual for Wake Forest athletics. He committed $7.5 million to the McCreary Field House, a gift that will certainly make a difference. With this contribution, Bob’s total commitment to Wake Forest is nearly $15 million, making him one of the University’s most generous benefactors.
“What I’ve received is far greater than what I gave,” McCreary remarked. “I am blessed to give. It’s selfish, because I’m going to enjoy it a lot – watching everyone else enjoy it. There will be no better facility in the ACC. It has to get done, and it will get done.”
Thank you, Bob, for being an individual who has made a difference in the lives of Wake Foresters for generations to come. Thank you for leading a life that matters.