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Catherine Lea Holt McCormick “A life overflowing with faith, love and service”

Catherine Lea Holt McCormick, known to her friends as “Cattie”, entered into her Savior’s presence Thursday, December 25, 2014, at home surrounded by her family.  

Cattie was born August 27, 1927 to Margaret McElwee and Ralph Manning Holt, Sr. at Miss Annie Williams Hospital in Burlington, NC. She attended Hillcrest School and graduated from Broad Street High School, then spent two years in Nashville, Tennessee at Ward-Belmont Junior College before transferring to the University of North Carolina in 1946 where she was on the annual staff, chairman of the senior class and the final dance. Cattie was the UNC May Queen in 1948 and a member of the Tri-Delta Sorority.

On November 27, 1948, Cattie married a handsome Sanford boy named James Luther McCormick (“Bum”), deceased, with whom she raised four children: James Luther, Jr. (Susan) of Dalton, GA, Robert Manning, deceased, Austin Holt of Wilmington, NC, and Catherine Maglenn (Sheila Steplar) of Whitsett NC. She has four grandchildren: Catherine Graham Illian (Matthew) of Richmond, VA, Elizabeth Faith McCormick of New York, NY, Martha Drake Reeves and Robert Reeves of Atlanta, Ga. The three great-grandsons, John (Jack), Clark, and Holt Illian bring great joy and laughter. In addition she is survived by her devoted brother Ralph Manning Holt, Jr. (Eda) and many loving nieces, nephews and cousins.

As a member of First Presbyterian Church, she received the Lifetime Membership Award and served the Lord as a youth leader, children’s Sunday School teacher, Bible teacher, president of the Women of the Church and member of the Visitors Board of Barium Springs Orphanage, helping start the first homeless food pantry on Worth St. in Burlington.

Known for her warm, beautiful smile and generous heart, Cattie was a community leader and champion for under-served and marginalized populations. Her energy propelled her to work on countless organizations and boards, including the Christian Counseling Center and Greater Piedmont Teen Challenge where she taught Bible classes and celebrated Christmas with the young men every year at her home on May’s Lake. Cattie lovingly served as president of the board for the Positive Attitude Youth Center where she chaired the 2002 capital campaign for their current building. At PAYC, she tutored her beloved children, taught bible studies and etiquette lessons to the youth, began a bell choir, and received recognition as being the “finest dreamer of them all.” The president of Bennett College in Greensboro recognized Cattie for her outstanding community outreach and caring.

Cattie was a respected civic leader serving as President of the Women’s Auxiliary at Alamance County Memorial Hospital. Through her creative and entrepreneurial spirit she served as a Pink Lady, helped start the gift shop and organized many memorable benefits including fashion shows and Christmas shopping boutiques for the hospital. Her deep love of history and her hometown were further expressed through her contributions as President of the Board for the Alamance County Historical Museum, where she led many successful and inspiring fund raisers including a Tiffany Tea, Antique Clothing Fashion Show, the E.M. Holt Dinner, and two fundraisers with Charles Dickens’ great-great-great grandson Gerald Dickens: a children’s afternoon “Tea with Scrooge” and a “Dinner with Dickens.”

Cattie was a true lifetime learner as an active member of the Mentor Book Club and enjoyed her time with the Topper Club. She touched many lives through the work of her hands, whether through painting, her exquisite flower arrangements, hospitable entertaining, or her beautiful handwritten letters. She also helped sponsor twin pianists Richard and John Contiguglia at the Paramount Theatre.

Once she moved to The Village of Brookwood, she incorporated her love of the civic and the spiritual as chairman of the Care and Concern Committee and  taught a Bible study to residents. Her love of hospitality, family recipes, and southern storytelling was brought together in a beautiful cookbook filled with favorite recipes and stories from residents.   

Cattie loved adventure and travel. She visited numerous countries, including Israel, Australia and Europe. She made sure that whoever travelled with her had the privilege of seeing her favorite part of the day - the sunrise - whether over the Sea of Galilee or the Swiss Alps. She also travelled the world with Dr. JL Williams to help the poor in India, Nepal, and Africa. She enjoyed spiritual retreats with family and friends at Aquaduct in Chapel Hill, Camps Farthest Out (CFO) at Wrightsville Beach, and Montreat.  

Cattie was a wonderful listener to all who had the honor to know her. She listened without judgement and gave the very counsel needed. As one friend said “I realized the high cost she paid to be so very skilled in binding up my gaping wounds and drying my tears. She, too, had seen joy smashed and her hope shattered, difficult times and painful losses. Cattie learned that God is faithful and He lifts His children up on eagles' wings so that they learn to soar above every trial and deep hurt.” Enhancing this spiritual generosity were her relationships with pastors Nicky Cruz, Dr. Horace Hilton and Dr. Terry Fullam.

So now we know Cattie has heard her Lord say: “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

A service of celebration will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Burlington, NC on Saturday, December 27 at 3:00 pm. Dr. J. L. Williams and Rev. Peter Thompson will officiate. Please join the family in Calvin Hall immediately following the service for the visitation where the family will receive family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, Memorial donations may go to: Positive Attitude Youth Center, Greater Piedmont Teen Challenge, Feed the Hunger (formerly New Directions), the Alamance Historical Museum, Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Alamance-Caswell, or the charity of one’s choice.

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