photography by Manny Rodriguez

After Tragedy, a Lake Texoma Retreat

When life threw Patty McCormack a curveball, she was looking for a change. So she packed up the kids, left for Pottsboro, and never looked back.

Life is funny. until it’s not. Back in 2005, Patty and Bill McCormack were city dwellers—he was a big-time attorney, and she was an architect. They had a house in Preston Hollow, four kids, and private school tuition. All they needed was a place to get away. The couple had always dreamed of retiring in Santa Fe. “But that was for later, when the kids grew up,” Patty says. “Santa Fe is an adult place, so that seemed like a distant dream.” They focused their efforts on finding the perfect spot for a lake house.

They looked everywhere and finally settled on Pottsboro, a town about an hour and a half from Dallas. “Privacy was paramount,” Patty says. “It’s hard to find 26 acres of contiguous land. And Texoma was the only lake that was truly clear cut. The whole area was clear cut of trees, so it’s really safe for boating. And we sit on one of the highest points of the Red River Valley.”

Construction began in the summer of 2006, and they immediately ran into topographical issues. After bringing in 365 tons of rock for retaining walls, things moved quickly. The McCormacks also brought in noted landscape architect Coy Talley for help. “He’s a master,” Patty says. “He advised on some of the materials for the house, too. Really, the house took on its flavor from the landscaping.”

And the house is all about the outdoors. This is no place for a shut-in. Every room stands alone—there are no hallways. Moving from one room to another requires going outside, which can make for chilly late-night snack runs to the kitchen. “Our house points directly north, so it gets pretty chilly,” Patty says, laughing. “We’ve installed some garage doors that come down and close it off so the breezeways are protected.”

The McCormacks loved the idea of bringing in friends from Dallas on the weekends. And though they talked about moving there full time and commuting, they weren’t quite ready to start loading the moving truck.

Then tragedy struck in October of 2007. Bill passed away. “By the time 2008 rolled around, I was really in a fog,” Patty says. “My house in Dallas was on the market, and I couldn’t go anywhere until it sold. But I was looking for a big change.”

At the time, she was working on a high-end residential project in Mexico, and she began to seriously consider moving there. “Then the financial situation began to plummet, and we put the projects on hold.” So with that option off the table, she continued to look for a change of scenery. She says a friend finally pointed out the obvious. “She said, ‘You already have an option. Reverse the program. Go live in the other house full time.’ Sometimes the simplest solutions are right in front of you,” Patty says.

So that’s what she did. She rented out the Dallas house, packed up the kids, moved to Pottsboro, and they haven’t looked back. She exercises in nature every day, whether it’s kayaking, paddle boarding, riding bikes, hiking, swimming, or yoga. She’s made friends. “We owned this place for years before we moved here, but we didn’t know anyone,” she says. “But the people here are so welcoming and loving. They are just lovely people.” The kids had no trouble adjusting to the school, which is rated exemplary, by the way. “I think they mostly love not having a uniform,” she says. “I can’t tell you how important that is to a 10-year-old.”

The only drawback has been the absence of Central Market. “We eat at home almost every day,” she says. “But I love to cook. And now I have time to do it.” 


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