[Editor’s note: Doug Maag died Tuesday at age 91. His memorial service will be held Friday at Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Atlanta at 2 PM. The following tribute is a blog I wrote about him in March 2009.]
How’s this for commitment? Doug Maag taught a college Sunday school class at Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Atlanta from 1964 until 1998. And it was more than a Sunday morning duty.
“Those were blessed days,” the 90-year-old Texan told me one afternoon this week when I stopped by his current residence in Macon, Ga., where he’s known as the “Mayor of Morningside” (Assisted Living).
During the 13 years that I did campus ministry in metro Atlanta, Doug was someone to know and emulate. He simply loved helping young adults grow into maturity.
“Do you ever see ol’ Cow Lot?” he asked, quickly reminding me that his nickname for former student Don Lott — my first Baptist Student Union (BSU) president at Southern Tech and an active Wieucan — came from a Western wear store back in Texas.
It seems that everyone in Doug’s sphere has a nickname. The Wichita Falls native himself has long been known as ‘Horns.
Digging back in his mind through the decades, Doug went on to name dozens of other students — some I knew and many I did not.
Year-after-year, Doug and his late wife, Norma — lovingly known as “Maagie” — participated in the once popular adopt-a-student program in which students going off to college were taken under the wings of a local church family.
Sandra Meeks, ironically from Macon, Ga., where Doug now lives to be close to his daughters and their families, was the first he and Maagie “adopted,” he told me. But there were dozens of others including Mark Pike who played football for the Buffalo Bills after finishing at Georgia Tech.
And I loved it when this 90-year old would fill in my mental blanks.
“Doug, remember the time in the early ’80s when I took a group of Wieuca students to New York City?” I asked. “It was initiated by a Georgia State student … Todd…”
“Todd DuBose,” he snapped back. “He ended up moving to New York…” (Indeed. Todd is now a psychology professor in Chicago my Internet search revealed.)
In a sense, every student the Maags encountered felt somewhat adopted. A school administrator once asked Doug if someone from Wieuca might visit the students at Bauder Fashion College near the church in trendy Buckhead once a month.
“Once a month is not enough,” Doug told her. So he and Maagie would pay the young women a visit every Monday. Many became active in his college Sunday school class.
Countless students who bumped into Doug along the way are forever grateful — including Dave Stewart, a Georgia Tech alum who now serves as Baptist campus minister for Southern Polytechnic State University and Kennesaw State University in Marietta, Ga., (a position I once held).
“I am a Christian today because of Doug Maag’s teaching and witness,” Dave told me when learning of my recent visit. “I don’t have a lot of heroes, but Doug Maag is way up on my short list.”
It’s been a long time since Sears & Roebuck transferred Doug to Atlanta. But hundreds of students are grateful they did.
After Maagie died in 2005, Doug said he came down to Macon for an anticipated 12-day visit. “That was three years and four months ago,” he added.
But his loving family is nearby now — and “Tex” the terrier keeps him company as well.
My afternoon with Doug inspired me. There are lessons to be learned from such a faithful example.
Among them: Find a place of ministry that fits your interest and gifts — and dig in for the long haul.
Thanks for being such a good example, Doug.
And thanks on behalf of hundreds of students who have benefited from your faithfulness, selflessness and kindness. God bless!
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.