September 7, 2016
Willoughby McCormick (1864-1932) was a successful businessman who provided leadership and finances to ministries in Maryland in the early 1900s. He was born in Dover, Virginia, in 1864. He left home in his teens to seek his fortune first in Texas and then in South Dakota. A few years later, McCormick came to Baltimore to launch a business in the port city. His little tea and spice shop developed into a large and successful manufacturing enterprise.
The origin of the Baptist Home for the Aged is owed to the generosity of McCormick. Before his death in 1932, McCormick gave the bulk of the Home’s donated gifts. One hundred thousand dollars of the institution’s endowment came from his resources. The Home started with five “guests,” all widows, in 1917. The day-to-day operations of the Home were carried out by a supervisor appointed by the Board of Managers. Local Baptist physicians provided free medical care.
McCormick also provided financial resources for the orphaned and neglected children in Maryland. Motivated by an SBC-wide fund-raiser which included orphanages in its distribution formula, the State Mission Board in 1920 appointed a committee to plan an orphanage for Baptist children. The Board of Trustees of a corporation called the Baptist Children’s Home of Maryland met October 22, 1920.Willoughy McCormick was present.
The generosity of wealthy, influential Marylanders like McCormick transformed the nature of Southern Baptist denominational structures. They successfully applied the corporate business model to Southern Baptist institutions. Like their large companies, their denomination’s varying levels of administrative organization, state and national, became ever more complex and interrelated. In 1919, this process reached a critical mass, setting in motion a circular flow of resources and services between local churches and national bureaucracies which made Southern Baptists’ material assets the envy of other American denominations. Maryland Baptists benefitted from and contributed to this chain reaction.
McCormick was a member of Seventh Baptist and later, a founding trustee at University Baptist, both in Baltimore.
Material used in this biography was taken from:
You Are a Great People, by W. Loyd Allen