On October 13, 2016, Bob McCreary (’61) announced that he will donate $15 million to Wake Forest Athletics. Bob’s support of our athletic programs has been unparalleled, with a lifetime giving of approximately $35 million to the Athletic Department. He has given to numerous projects including McCreary Field House, Sutton Sports Performance Center, Deacon Tower, the Bob McCreary Video Board Honoring the Class of 1961, Miller Center and Bridger Field House. In addition, Bob has provided 23 full scholarships to our student-athletes over the past 13 years.
It is truly incredible to think about all that Bob has done for Wake Forest. Ron Wellman, Director of Athletics remarks, “What an impact one man can have on a program, and that man for our program is Bob McCreary.”
Beyond all of his giving, however, there is a generous, compassionate and kind-hearted man; a man who has a vision. Bob comes from humble beginnings, growing up in a house with no indoor facilities and being one of the first in his family to graduate from high school. “We had nothing, but we had everything,” said Bob. While he may not have grown up having the same material objects as others, Bob grew up with an extremely loving and close-knit family. To this day, Bob’s mother, Christine, who is 97 years old, remains the light of his life.
After a successful high school football career, where he received Honorable Mention All-State accolades during his senior year, Bob accepted a scholarship to play football at Wake Forest. During his freshman season, however, Bob suffered a serious knee injury; an injury so threatening that he thought his football career was over. Lewis “Doc” Martin, the legendary Wake Forest athletic trainer, was able to convince Bob otherwise. Doc spoke with Bob, telling him that he couldn’t quit, and if he did, it might set the tone for the rest of his life. Bob took Doc’s advice to heart, returning to football and proving that he was not a quitter.
Bob has always possessed an extremely strong work ethic, but it was his time at Wake Forest that he attributes his success to. The environment of this wonderful university served as a launching pad for Bob, teaching him invaluable life lessons. “I love this university. It was the springboard for my life.”
In 1961, Bob McCreary graduated from Wake Forest and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers as the 65th overall pick. After a short stint with the 49ers, he was signed by the Dallas Cowboys where he was the starting right tackle during the 1961 season. Once he retired from professional football, Bob spent the next 20 years working in sales and management within the furniture industry, where he began his career by working at the same furniture company as his father, who was a furniture sander. In January of 1986, Bob and his wife, Michele, decided to open their own furniture company. It was at this point that McCreary Modern Inc. was born. The company has grown substantially since 1986, with over 1,000 employees and six manufacturing facilities.
Even as Bob moved on from Wake Forest to pursue his career, he remained connected with the university. Bob has been there to celebrate our many successes, but has also actively helped support our department’s needs as we strive to Develop Champions, both in the classroom and during competition.
With that said, Bob shares in our vision and wants to see all of our programs succeed. This is one of the many reasons why he invests so much in our student-athletes. Bob doesn’t view his financial commitments as gifts, but rather as investments. “The benefit of investing in Wake Forest Athletics is that I can do something that can be shared by so many.”
By giving to the Athletic Department and investing in resources and facilities for our student-athletes, there is something extraordinarily tangible, and for Bob, that is well worth it. “I want to make an impact while I’m in good health and am able to see and enjoy the products of my investments.”
A prime example of this is McCreary Field House. As of October 21, our football team is off to a 5-2 start, and the new football facilities undoubtedly played a role in the team’s ability to prepare for the current season. Bob realizes the importance of his investment stating, “Without these new and upgraded facilities, we would not be where we are right now.”
Bob McCreary perfectly embodies the Wake Forest motto – Pro Humanitate. Not only does he consistently give to others, he is committed to putting forth his best self. Bob is a model alumnus and has been recognized by Wake Forest in many ways. He has received the Gene Hooks Achievement Award in 2008, a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016 and was named Deacon Club Member of the Year on two separate occasions. In addition, Bob was inducted into the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
“I feel privileged to be able to have done what I have,” stated Bob. Even after his substantial gift, however, he knows that there is still work to be done. “We are going to continue winning at Wake Forest, but we need to keep supporting our dedicated coaches and student-athletes.”
At the October 29 Homecoming football game, it was announced that Deacon Tower will be named in Bob’s honor, becoming McCreary Tower. Bob celebrated this special day with his family and friends at his side, including his mother, Christine, wife, Michele, son, Robert and daughter-in-law, Michelle, as well as his grandchildren, Cash and Kate, and his brother, Larry and sister-in-law, Judy.
On behalf of the entire Wake Forest community, we would like to sincerely thank Bob and his family. Words alone cannot express how grateful we are for your continued support. With your investments in our Athletic Department, you are helping to shape an incredibly bright future for Wake Forest Athletics.
(Note: This article was originally published in the November/December 2016 issue of Gold Rush.)