Passions and Experience Create Traditions

McMurry Tradition Born of Dean’s Love of Cars and Dedication to Students

Not all traditions are dreamt up and then executed repeatedly until they eventually become a tradition. Sometimes a passion and deep experience drive the creation of a tradition. McMurry has a shining example of a creative passion driving and building more than just cars.

John Yarabeck, dean of students and campus life, is passionate about Jeeps, classic cars, and McMurry students. But how do these fit together?

If you are in Abilene, you can’t miss Dean Yarabeck. He’s the one driving the maroon Jeep with a McMurry War Hawk-Ala Cumba tire cover. When he was an administrator at Sam Houston State University, he had an orange Jeep. Everyone knew it was him, and now those in Abilene are growing in the same recognition. After all, who can miss a Jeep with a custom maroon paint job and a War Hawk tire cover on the back?

Shortly after he arrived in Abilene in summer 2023, he began the search for a maroon Jeep. After finding one in Fort Worth, he worked with campus departments to create the tire cover.

“I want students to know through me doing this I’m all in for them,” Yarabeck beams. “Displaying my love for McMurry in my Jeep brings awareness to McMurry everywhere I drive.”

A lover of classic cars, he is finishing a three-year restoration of a 1947 Chrysler Town & Country “Woodie.” By far, not the first car he’s restored, but it is definitely a work of love because parts for a vehicle that rolled off the assembly line 77 years ago are not exactly easily found. That’s ok. It’s the passion of creatively finding the parts needed and lovingly restoring it to a thing of beauty that makes it worthwhile.

This passion and experience led Yarabeck to initiate a new tradition at McMurry. He introduced a Classic Car Cruise-In Tailgater as part of Family Weekend sponsored by Greek Life. Begun in 2023, this impressive car show and tailgate was a hit, and it is now set to become an annual tradition.

“Everyone really loved it,” said Yarabeck. “We’re set to bring it back as a tradition as a way to bring more to Family Weekend and engage with parents.”

Yarabeck’s passion for McMurry students and experience in classic cars helped create a wonderful new tradition everyone can enjoy. And when you see that maroon Jeep in town, you can proudly say you know its story and the man behind the wheel.


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