Charles J. McClain of Columbia, 83, passed away April 9, 2015 at home.
A celebration of the life of Charles McClain was held at April 16, 2015 at the Missouri United Methodist Church located at 204 S. 9th Street Columbia, MO 65201.
Born on September 1, 1931 in Iron County, Missouri, Charles was a son of John and Hazel McClain. He married Ann Kettering Covington in 1995. She survives.
A teacher, a professor, and a university president, Dr. McClain was passionate about education. He exercised his commitment to education in many venues, always focusing on exceptional student learning and growth. He benefited thousands of students from all walks of life and removed obstacles for them. Dr. McClain served in public and private schools in rural and urban settings. He founded Jefferson College in 1963 and was President there. He was the Commissioner of Higher Education for the State of Missouri. The U.S. District Court appointed him as the Desegregation Monitor for the Kansas City School District. He traveled to his wife’s hometown to be Interim President at Fairmont State University in West Virginia. His proudest professional achievement, however, was his service for twenty years as President of Northeast Missouri State University (Truman State University) where he conceived and led the transformation of the institution from a teachers’ college to the state’s premier highly selective liberal arts and sciences university. He received bountiful awards and honors and authored numerous publications about education issues. He loved the concept of excellence and making things better. Many called him an icon of education.
Charles was dedicated to his community. He was a leader in his church and in all of the organizations he served including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. He was a great friend and mentor to all lucky enough to know him. He was generous with the twinkle in his eye, his smiles, and caring kind words.
Dr. McClain cared greatly for others. He coveted time with his family. In addition to Ann, Charles is survived by his two daughters and their husbands, Anita and Lewis Kinkeade and Melanie and Bruce Brown. He is also survived by his stepchildren Elizabeth and Paul and Paul’s wife, Megan. His four grandchildren and two step grandchildren also survive him: Gregory; Kate and her husband Chris; Bryan; Christopher; Ashley; and Devin. His three great grandchildren Genevieve Grace, Sophia Nicole, and Christian McClain were special delights to him.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested for the Charles J. McClain Scholarship Fund at Truman State University, Kirksville, MO 63501.