Lois McClain, a 38-year employee of Clarion University’s dining services and a beloved member of the university family, passed away last Friday, Feb. 25. She was 83.
"Lois exemplified the true meaning of customer service at Eagle Commons," said Jennifer Graham, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, Residence Life and Housing. "She greeted every student with a smile and enjoyed serving our Clarion community."
"She was like a grandmother to a lot of people, including myself," said Megan Foster '14, '16G.
Mrs. McClain's love for the students inspired Foster in 2016 to create The Clarion Project, which profiled people at the university. In response to the question, "What do you love most about Clarion," Mrs. McClain said:
"The one thing that I love most about Clarion are the kids. I love the kids because they keep me young. These students are the reason I get up to come to work, and I look forward to them. In my eyes, all these kids are my kids. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Love, kindness and smiles were her trademarks.
Jessica Zacherl, assistant director of Residence Life, said she looked forward to seeing Mrs. McClain's smiling face at Eagle Commons.
"I've always thought she was one of the gems on our campus that helped our students, just by being nice," Zacherl said.
Dr. Joseph Croskey, director of Advising, remembers Mrs. McClain as always being kind and thoughtful, with a warm, welcoming way and a bright smile.
"She was thoughtful and would ask about me and my family. She would share stories about what was going on in her life and we would always have a nice conversation when I went in to Eagle Commons," Croskey said. "She was a delightful soul who made everyone feel welcome and part of her campus family."
"Every day, she radiated positivity; she fueled your soul as she filled your plate," Graham said. "We are heartbroken that she is no longer with us, but we will always remember her amazing spirit, kindness and smile."
Aramark, the university's dining service and Mrs. McClain's employer, set up a memorial table in Eagle Commons, where she worked most recently. On the table is her photograph, her coffee mug, and a notepad for students, faculty and staff to write memories of Lois or condolences for the family. The pages will be put into a binder and given to her family. The table will remain there through Friday.
"She wasn't an employee; she was a friend," said John Alden, residential manager for Aramark. "The last thing she said to me on Thursday was, 'I love you. Never forget that,' followed by a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek."
Alden said McClain called off Friday because of icy roads. Her home caught fire later that day, and she wasn't able to get out.
"My heart truly hurts," he said. "So, my dear Lois, remember my reply: I love you, too. Never forget that."