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A Life Remembered: Malcolm McClenaghan

A Life Remembered: Malcolm McClenaghan


The Rt. Rev. Malcolm McClenaghan was always thinking of the next thing.

For most of his 95 years “the next thing” usually involved thinking of others and connecting to the communities he was called to serve.

“He was all about adventure, challenges and new opportunities,” said his daughter, Mary Kilps. “He was always interested in, ‘What else can I do?’ ‘Who else can I help?’”

While some priests remain in place for many years, Malcolm answered calls to help parishes in need, said his wife, Elaine. “Churches reached out to him and he was able to go pull people out of trouble,” she said.

During his pastoral career, Malcolm served as chaplain to fire departments in Toledo, Ohio; Sacramento and Modesto, Calif., and Kenosha and was an airbase chaplain in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

For 14 years he served St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Kenosha, where he was known affectionately as “Father Mac.”

Here he championed the building of Lakeside Towers, established halfway houses for those in alcohol and drug rehabilitation and shared his love of sailing on Lake Michigan with area residents.

He stepped up for the most vulnerable, especially seniors and homeless individuals, said his family.

“When we lived in Modesto, Calif., he would bring people home to live with us and give them his clothes,” said his daughter, Monica.

“He was very St. Francis-like,” said his son, Matthew. “His message was, ‘Try to live your life selflessly.’”

On June 27, Malcolm McClenaghan died in Roseville, Calif. He is survived by his wife , Elaine; children, Monica Hutchison (Mark), Mary Kilps (Rick), Michael McClenaghan (Laura), Matthew McClenaghan (Katy); eight grandchildren; three stepgrandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Malcolm was born in Lancaster, Ohio, to Donald and Frances McClenaghan on Sept. 9, 1923. He attended local schools, graduating from Lancaster High School in 1940. He graduated from North Central College, Naperville, Ill., and went on to study divinity. In 1947, he was ordained in the United Methodist Church.

While serving a Methodist parish in Luckey, Ohio, he met Elaine Helm. They married June 5, 1949.

After interning at several Methodist parishes, Malcolm met an Episcopal priest and became interested in the denomination. He attended an Episcopal seminary in Ohio and was ordained in 1951.

Malcolm answered several Episcopal calls before arriving in Kenosha in 1972.

Continuing with an interest in helping seniors access affordable housing that began in California, Malcolm shepherded Lakeside Towers into existence as president of the Affordable Community Housing Trust, an interfaith organization.

“He was an activist in a very positive sense,” said St. Matthew’s longtime parishioner Franklin Gail. “He was an advocate for the disadvantaged who struggled to be heard and seen.”

In 1979, Malcolm was recognized for his community involvement by being named Grand Marshal of the Civic Veterans Parade.

He enjoyed Kenosha’s art scene and made friends with George Pollard, who captured his likeness in one of his signature portraits.

Kenosha also allowed Malcolm to indulge in sailing on Lake Michigan.

“Sometimes on his lunch break he would go sit on his boat or take a short sail,” Elaine said.

In addition to regular sailboats, Malcolm had “an old wooden boat” that he took with him as he relocated his family around the country, noted Matthew. “The wooden boat was almost a member of the family.”

He mentored others in sailing, including the late John Burhani. “He really took John under his wing in many ways,” said Burhani’s sister, Jamie Cairo.

“My dad was involved in so many things: Hunting, fishing, sailing, horse racing .... He flew an airplane and drove motorcycles,” Monica said.

Malcolm also loved his Scottish heritage. “We kids remember him walking around the house with bagpipe music playing. He had the whole kilt getup and learned Gaelic for his trips to Scotland,” Mary said.

In 1984, Malcolm and his family left Kenosha for Sacramento again, where he was named archdeacon of the Diocese of Northern California. In this capacity he talked to different churches about fundraising, endowments and financial planning.

Of all of the places Malcolm lived, Kenosha remained near and dear to his heart, said family. He and Elaine chose St. Matthew’s as the final resting place for their ashes. The memorial service for Malcolm will take place during Sunday service on Sept. 29.

“He wanted his ashes at St. Matthew’s because he had some very special feelings for Matthews,” Mary said.

Malcolm passed along many lessons, said his children. “We learned about being of service to other people, and the importance of reaching out and forming relationships in community,” Monica said.

He taught tolerance by example, added Matthew. “He would say, ‘Everyone’s belief system matters; even if it’s different from yours.’”

Editor’s note: Each Monday, the Kenosha News takes a look at the life of a Kenosha County resident who has recently died. We share with you, through the memories of family and friends, a life remembered.


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