• A look back at Baylor Homecoming Parade Grand Marshals through the years

    Dr. Robert and Joyce Packard

    Starting bright and early this Saturday, the Baylor Homecoming Parade will once again be one of the highlights of the nation’s oldest Homecoming celebration.

    There will be floats, balloons and pageantry, but none of it can begin without the grand marshal. This year’s grand marshal is Baylor’s 15th president, Dr. Linda Livingstone. She joins a distinguished list of Baylor legends — from professors and coaches to filmmakers and even a U.S. President — who have been so honored. Here’s just a small taste of the men and women who have kicked off the parade through the years:

    THE FIRST: Baylor’s first Homecoming Parade grand marshal in 1909 was Dr. Irvy Lee McGlasson, a prominent Waco doctor who was known statewide and even across the country at the time for pioneering the use of radium in skin treatments. A secondary honor: By virtue of serving as Baylor’s first Homecoming Parade grand marshal, he holds the distinction of being the first homecoming parade grand marshal at any college, anywhere.

    PRESIDENTS AND PROMINENT BEARS: Naturally, Baylor presidents have often led the parade, particularly in their first year in office. Presidents have led the parade at least as far back as W.R White, who led Baylor from 1948-61; every Baylor president since White has led the parade at least once. Other recognizable campus figures who served as grand marshal include Dr. Robert Packard (pictured above with his wife, Joyce, BA ’52, MSEd ’57), whose “Packard Physics” class was a Baylor institution for a half-century, and Margaret Amsler, BA ’29, JD 37, a Baylor Law professor who was the first woman in Texas (and just the third in the nation) to hold a tenure-track position in a law school.

    POLITICS: Four years before he was elected the nation’s 43rd president, then-Texas Governor George W. Bush served as the parade’s grand marshal. But perhaps the most intriguing political tie-in came in 1973, when Baylor Law graduate Leon Jaworski, LLB ’25, led the parade just two days after being named Watergate special prosecutor. Jaworski explained to the national press that he “put Baylor very high on my priority list” and had “decided that this (new job) wouldn’t stop me from coming,” putting his return to D.C. on hold until he had fulfilled his Homecoming duties.

    ON SCREEN: Two years after The Blind Side hit theaters, the film’s director, John Lee Hancock, BA ’79, JD ’82, was Baylor’s grand marshal. Five years later, Fixer Upper fixture Clint Harp, BBA ’00, was the guest of honor.

    ATHLETICS: Many Baylor coaches and athletes have graced the Homecoming Parade route, including head women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, who led the parade a few months after bringing her first national title to campus; legendary football coach Grant Teaff, one of a select few to lead the parade more than once; Olympic gold medalist Reggie Witherspoon, BA ’14; and longtime Major League Baseball player David Murphy.

    This list is hardly exhaustive (in fact, if you know of others, we’d love to hear about them). But it’s a taste of some of the great names and historic Baylor figures who have done their part to make the Homecoming Parade such a special event.

    Sic ’em, Homecoming Parade Grand Marshals!

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