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Meet Bob McClintock: Taylor Alumnus, WWII Veteran, Centenarian

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Two men with a picture of an A-36 dive bomber plane

Since 1846, when Taylor University was founded, Taylor has sent out thousands of influential individuals dedicated to serving the Lord and their country. One of these individuals who recently turned 105 and recounts the ways in which God has been faithful throughout his life.

Bob McClintock is 105-years-young, a WWII veteran, and an avid Christ-follower. In his many years (two of them being at Taylor University before being drafted to the United States Army), Bob has seen all sides of the world and has dedicated his life to Christ throughout all of it. 

Bob's Journey to Taylor

Robert (Bob) McClintock was born in 1918 in Detroit, Michigan. His father was a pastor in the Detroit area, serving several churches in western Michigan. Bob grew up attending school in one-room schoolhouses. At the age of 14, he gave his life to Christ.

“The verse that was given to me was Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” Bob recalled. “That was a key point in my life. I took Him at His word and committed my life to Jesus Christ.”

Bob graduated high school in 1937 and worked in the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing for two years. Those years in Lansing taught him to be an independent Christian adult, and his faith was stretched by what he observed in the Capitol. He realized he needed more education but was convinced that he should go to a Christian college, rather than a nearby state university.

Fortunately, a fellow minister’s son invited him to join him at Taylor University and room with him. He quit his job, hitch-hiked 180 miles to Upland, and enrolled at Taylor in 1939.

As a student, Bob threw himself into life on campus, especially music. He was involved in Glee Club and the Fourth Floor Quartet, played basketball, and loved his classes. He supported himself by working in the dining hall. He also began dating Elizabeth “Betty” Roane ‘41, who he met in Helena Memorial Hall, then the music building.

Bob and Betty McClintock pictured in the 1940s.

While Bob did not ultimately graduate from Taylor, he claims Taylor “his school” and recognizes the growth that it provided for his faith. Bob recounts that the religious emphasis at Taylor was “just as strong then as it is now” and it gave him a “Christian foundation that lasted through my service days.” 

Service in the Air Force

In 1941, Bob was drafted into the US Army out of Detroit in April 1941. After a stop in Rockford, IL, for equipment, he joined 15,000 other young men on a train to Alexandria, LA, for boot camp. Bob tells the story of his first night at boot camp where he was mocked for saying his prayers before bed. Another serviceman defended him, and he told Bob that his prayers inspired him to put effort into his faith.

Bob continued through boot camp, but he struggled when it came time for bayonet practice. One day, he went into the kitchen to get away from the turmoil, and he found himself recruited to help feed his fellow recruits. He eventually completed training to become military cook.

Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, and Bob’s division was one of just a few divisions ready for deployment. He was moved to Fort Devens in Boston. Around the same time, the Air Force was realizing a need for more trained pilots in the Armed Forces, and Bob was invited to take an exam to become an Army Air Force Cadet.

“Out of 200 who took the exam, just 57 were accepted,” said Bob. “I transferred into the Air Force in January 1942.

Bob was sent to flight training in Kelly Field (now Kelly Air Force Base) in San Antonio, TX. He had never flown before and, after his instructor attempted and failed to make him airsick with repeated rolls and spins, Bob realized he was destined to be in a cockpit. 

But his instructor did everything possible to make life difficult for Bob, including endless foul language and banging the control stick against his knees until his legs were covered in bruises.

After his third training trip, Bob had had enough.

“I told him, ‘Look, you’re taking the name of the God I love in vain. I won’t have it. You can fail me all you want, but if you can’t change, I’m out of here.’

To Bob’s surprise, his instructor stopped his abusive behavior. Months later, the man told Bob that he had grown up in the church but had walked away from his faith, and Bob’s confrontation had been used by God to bring him back.

Once his training was complete, Bob was sent to Sarasota, FL, where he was trained in P-40 fighter planes. Eventually, he was sent to North Africa and Italy to fly in the war campaign. 

“He’s Going to See Me Through”

One rainy day, while stationed outside Naples, Italy, Bob was fiddling with the radio on his plane. He landed on a station playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and since he had no place to go with the weather being bad, he paused to listen.

At the end of the broadcast, he heard the announcer say that the choir was provided by Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, which prepares church musicians for a lifetime of service.

“In that moment,” Bob said. ‘I knew three things: one, what I was going to be – a church musician. Two, where I was going to go – Westminster Choir College. And three, that God was going to get me home safely.”

After two combat missions in his P-40, Bob was retrained in an A-36 Apache dive bomber where he flew in frontline support of Army infantry ground force in Italy. Throughout the course of the war, Bob flew 84 combat missions in that plane, totaling 86 combat missions. His plane was struck twice by enemy gunfire, but the engine was not impacted.

“We’re made to conquer fear,” Bob said. “I flew with a confidence. I had this faith, this core, that I’m God’s child, He called me to be a music director, and He’s going to see me through.”

“We Live by Faith”

Once his service in the Air Force was complete, Bob returned home and he and Betty were married. He earned a music degree at Westminster Choir College, just where God had guided him. He and Betty became an inseparable team, working as music director and organist at Dauphin Way Baptist Church, the 10th largest Southern Baptist Church in the United States at the time.

Bob and Betty were happily married for 66 years. After some time serving in the church, Bob realized he could not afford to retire and, through prayer, he decided to shift his focus and work at Pole Line Hardware. For the next 15 years, Bob worked as a traveling salesman, selling in Alabama and Mississippi, and finding immense success in what he did, accounting for “32% of sales for the company” during his time there.

Betty passed away in 2008. Now living in Florida, Bob has served Jesus faithfully for 90 years, and he is immensely thankful for all he has experienced. He's active in his retirement community, and he's has sung the national anthem at sports events and at Tampa Bay's Airfest on MacDill Air Force Base.  

He continues to praise his time at Taylor, claiming it set his foundation in the right place. 

“God has never failed me,” Bob recounts. “When you are in touch with God and malleable to his leadership, things happen beautifully and wonderfully well. It’s the most exciting thing that can ever happen in your life. When you’re in His control, you are under control.” 

Set Your Foundation

For the last 177 years, Taylor has been educating and preparing students for life after school. Just as it was while Bob was in school, Taylor continues to hold to its values and beliefs and will continue for years to come. Request more information here or schedule your Taylor visit to learn more.