For generations, Van “Doc” Quick served as the heart, soul and icon of his alma mater, Mississippi College. A Christian gentleman, friend to thousands of alumni nationwide and longtime MC leader, Quick died Friday evening at Hospice Ministries. He was 81.
The retired MC administrator served as the face of the Christian university for decades. A walking encyclopedia, the friendly Mississippi native knew all things MC and helped shape the lives of many students, alumni, friends and colleagues. Doc Quick stories on and off the Clinton campus are practically endless as are his many contributions to his alma mater.
A 1955 MC alumnus, Quick worked tirelessly as dean of men, director of admissions, and vice president for alumni and student affairs for nearly 40 years before retiring in 1999. Doc relished his role as a traveling goodwill ambassador who embraced Mississippi College alums all over America. The Mississippian attended countless events on the Clinton campus.
“I have called him an iconic figure by which I meant that you could see through his life to the values that make MC an outstanding institution,” said President Lee Royce. “He truly embodied our motto: Veritas et Virtus, Truth and Virtue.”
Dr. Royce and Doc Quick journeyed to scores of alumni meetings. But Quick was often the one they connected with as they recollected old times and funny stories. That included moments when students got in a little hot water and later appreciated the way Quick handled the situation.
“Frequently, alumni recounted with great emotion how Doc helped them get their lives on track and graduate from MC,” Royce said. “He was a constant source of memory and encouragement to many alumni and friends of MC. We rejoice in his life and the great good he did, as we grieve in his passing.”
At a Baptist-affiliated institution dating back to 1826, “few persons have meant as much to the life of MC as Doc Quick,” Royce said.
Mississippi College alums like Jim Turcotte, vice president for enrollment services and dean of students, valued Doc Quick as a remarkable mentor.
“We cannot measure the impact Doc had on so many students, including me,” said Turcotte. “Doc laid the foundation for the work I do for MC today, and I am standing on his shoulders.”
As a Hazlehurst High senior, Quick recalled Mississippi College wasn’t his first college choice. After going to his first few classes as a freshman in 1951, he realized he made the right choice. He soon began working with MC Choctaws sports teams as a manager and trainer. When bandaging an injured player’s knee, he earned the nickname “Doc” and it stuck for the rest of his life.
Mississippi College was an unforgettable place for Doc Quick for many reasons. At the top of his list, it’s where he met and married his wife, the former Shelly Smyly, who earned three MC degrees. They’re the parents of twin daughters, Clinton resident Karon McMillan, Mississippi College’s director of financial aid, and Sharon Wilson of Meridian.
The Doc and Shelly Quick Rebounders Room at the A.E. Wood Coliseum is named in the couple’s honor. The Van “Doc” Quick Staff Award recognizes an outstanding university staff member each year. There’s a Doc Quick scholarship going to MC students and a Quick wing in the new men’s residence hall.
The accolades for Quick, who served as a Mississippi high school football referee for 38 years, speak volumes about the deep love people have for the faithful member of First Baptist Church Clinton.
“He was one of the best men I ever knew, and I will miss him greatly,” said Mississippi College trustee Andy Taggart. Doc truly deserves the title of “Mr. Mississippi College,” says the Ridgeland attorney.
Quick recruited the Gulf Coast teenager from Moss Point High School in the 1970s. “Doc nurtured, guided, advised and loved me through my four years at MC, and for the 35 years since I graduated.”
“MC and Doc are interchangeable,” says Don Locke an MC alumnus and dean of the university’s School of Education. “Doc was our constant connection to the university. He remembered us all and had a story about each of us and encouraged us throughout our careers.”
A “Beacon” story following his retirement in 1999, noted Quick opened his heart to generations of MC Choctaws. “MC will always be home to me and it’s a shame I can’t be buried here,” Quick said. “At the very least, I hope that some of ‘my boys’ will prop my corpse up in a car and ride me around the campus one more time.”
Visitation will be Monday March 31 from 5-7 p.m. at First Baptist Church Clinton. The funeral is Tuesday April 1 at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church Clinton.
– Andy Kanengiser, Contributing Writer