Quincy Catholic Elementary Schools Foundation honors McClain family

With family members surrounding him, Mike McClain accepts the Friend of Catholic Education award honoring the family of Marge and the late Elmo "Mac" McClain, during an award dinner in their honor Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, at the Quality Inn and Suites in Quincy. Marge McClain is seen at right. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson
Phil Carlson 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 7, 2016 12:01 am
QUINCY -- Faith, family and the value of Catholic education were common themes from speakers Saturday night at the 2016 Friend of Catholic Education Award Dinner.

The Quincy Catholic Elementary Schools Foundation honored Elmo "Mac" and Marge McClain and family with the 2016 Friend of Catholic Education Award during a ceremony at the Quality Inn and Suites.

The foundation, which supports Quincy's four Catholic elementary schools, has recognized each year since 2009 an individual, family or group whose contributions have fostered and strengthened Catholic education in Quincy.

Mike McClain, the eldest of the McClains' children, accepted the award on his family's behalf. He said he was honored the foundation recognized his family.

Master of ceremonies Ray Heilman, the 2013 award recipient, read excerpts of letters congratulating the McClains from dignitaries including Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Springfield Diocese Bishop Thomas Paprocki and Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich.

The McClains, both World War II veterans, had a strong belief in Catholic education, which was a major influence on their family life and their contributions in the community. Mac McClain, a U.S. Army veteran, taught in Catholic schools for 19 years. He served as the first basketball coach at Christian Brothers High School and the first baseball and basketball coach for Mater Dei High School in Breese, Ill. McClain also has been inducted into the Illinois High School Basketball and the Quincy Notre Dame halls of fame.

"Mac" McClain, who died in 1972, was also part of a group of citizens who rallied to keep Christian Brothers open and thriving when Christian Brothers announced they would leave at the end of the 1969-70 school year. Thanks to the efforts of McClain and the rest of the group, a Catholic secondary education continues to be an option for local families.

Mac McClain graduated from St. Peter Grade School, Quincy Academy and Quincy College. He also earned a master's degree from Western Illinois University.

Marge McClain, a U. S. Marine Corps veteran, also attended St. Peter Grade School. She graduated from Quincy High School and Quincy College, later teaching one year at Mater Dei and 14 years at St. Peter.

Marge enjoys attending daily Mass and traveling, and she particularly appreciated going to Washington, D.C., with St. Peter students on an Honor Flight.

The McClains had eight children, and all attended Catholic schools in Quincy.