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Distinguished Alumnus: Cail known for laughter, love

James Cail has been called a living legend at Oklahoma Christian.

A popular and humorous professor of psychology, Cail will be honored as one of the 2012 Distinguished Alumni at this year’s Homecoming.

He has received many awards for his teaching and family seminars, and was honored as a professor emeritus at Oklahoma Christian in 2004. Cail retired in 2003 after teaching for 31 years.

His time with Oklahoma Christian began as a student in Bartlesville, where he graduated in 1958.

“What I loved about my time as a student was the intimate relationships we developed, many of which lasted a lifetime,” he said.

Cail came back to his alma mater as the director of admissions in 1963.

“I had a great time encouraging so many people to attend OC,” he said. “Many of those students became lifelong friends, and then I enjoyed seeing many of their children in my classes.”

There was one student in particular that Cail was glad came to OC. That was his wife, Judy, an Oklahoma Christian freshman whom he met after taking the admissions job in 1963. They will celebrate 47 years of marriage this year.

The Cails left Oklahoma Christian in 1969 while James earned a doctorate in psychology at Baylor University. In 1972, they returned and James began his third stint at OC as a faculty member.

“I had a continual sense of delight and surprise to talk about a subject I liked with people I liked,” he said. “In addition, I have always enjoyed visiting with my former students.”

One of Cail’s most endearing features in the classroom or church seminar was his sense of humor.

“Even things that are troublesome can have a humorous side, if you look,” he said. “I’ve always had a penchant for laughing at myself. The role of humorist has always brought satisfaction.”

James and Judy have three children, all of whom attended OC. Trey (92) and Mindy (Lemons 96) are both medical doctors and work less than a mile from campus.

Their youngest daughter, Liz (McElroy 05), followed in her father’s footsteps and teaches psychology classes at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City while pursuing advanced degrees.

Judy recently retired after almost 20 years of teaching at Oakdale School in Oklahoma City. She also is known for teaching sign language and for interpreting worship services. She said it was comforting to see her husband honored by OC.

“Having spent so much time here, OC just feels like home for us,” she said. “The people we worked with and around were just like an extended family. That’s why it’s especially nice for them to honor James this way.”

By Josh Watson