If you knew Will McClain, then you knew his stories: Colorado, IBM, Alaska, Seminary, The Ranch, skate skiing and more. The thing about Will though, these weren’t just stories; these were his truth.
A priest, a theologian, a woodworker, a ski bum, a political junkie, a mountaineer, a birder, a rancher, a husband and a Dad; he was all of the above and more. Will McClain will always be remembered as an adventuresome spirit, a steamroller embracing life, living each day to its fullest. He fully embraced whatever he did. At 32, he didn’t just decide to become a Christian; he joined the seminary and became an Episcopal priest. With everything, he put his own spin on it; never giving a sermon from behind the pulpit, he wanted to speak amongst his people. His congregations didn’t hear organ music, rather folk music led by his wife of 65 years, Sally. His first church, Christ Church, was in Portola Valley. His second, St. Marks in Yreka, and his third was St. Barnabas, in Mt. Shasta. He spent seven years at each.
He was a champion for civil rights. He was a Marriage and Family Counselor; both in the Bay Area and Siskiyou County. He didn’t just learn Spanish; he immersed himself, living 6 weeks in a home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. He then came back and offered Spanish-only services at St. Barnabas. He didn’t just tinker with wood; he built furniture, a home, and a banjo from a walnut log. He didn’t just identify birds, he and Sally toured the world to see rare birds, created habitats, and were hosts to the Audubon Society’s annual Siskiyou County Christmas bird count for 30 years.
They were active members in the COS choir. Will sang barbershop. You would always hear him humming along the trail. They were avid hikers; members of The Wanderers, hiking weekly at the very least. They loved RVing, and nothing better than 3 months at a time, traveling cross-country, visiting old friends and meeting new ones, usually while fishing, or at a national park. At 80, he took up skate skiing; the Mt. Shasta Nordic Center became his second home. At 90, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized into his liver. He never let that stand in his way. He’d load his pockets with pliers and such to fool the doctor about his weight loss. When he was too weak to walk to get the mail, he climbed aboard his tractor. He never stopped living.
It is with heavy hearts that we announce that Will McClain has passed on to his next adventure. Will passed away the morning of Jan. 16, 2020. He died peacefully at his ranch, surrounded by his kids. He was 92.
Will is survived by his four children Kris Waters (Garth), Tim (Mary), Scott (Beki), and Nancy (David), his grandchildren Ryan, Nicholas and Aaron Waters, Luke McClain, Logan McClain, Jeff Towers, and Michael Towers, as well as his 4 great-grandchildren Mia, Emma, Liana, and Jacob Waters.
Come help pass on Will’s spirit in a celebration of his life Saturday, Feb. 29, at 1 p.m., at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 701 Lassen Lane, Mt. Shasta. All are welcome.