The government of Liberia has announced with profound regret the death of Dr. Edward B. McClain Jr., Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Dr. McClain died on Saturday, July 23, 2016 at 2:55 a.m. at the Wilgers Life Hospital in Lynwood, Pretoria, South Africa. He was in his 72nd year.
Dr. McClain was a product of the College of West Africa (CWA), a renowned high school in Monrovia, run by the United Methodist Church since 1839. Most of his siblings attained their secondary education at CWA. His eldest brother, John Weseh McClain, graduated from CWA in November 1955 as the dux of his class, along with several classmates who became outstanding Liberians, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Leaving CWA, Edward, affectionately called “Bobby,” matriculated to Cuttington College and Divinity School (now Cuttington University), where he took the BSc degree, majoring in Chemistry and Biology. Among his Cuttington classmates were his best buddy, Dr. Taylor Neal, a prominent
Liberian dentist; Dr. Foday Kromah, a geologist and former Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy; Mrs. Gwendolyn Gooding Wilson; Samuel Butcher, who became a mathematician and served as principal of high schools in California, USA; Henry Baker, who became a lawyer; and Thomas
Brima, former Superintendent of Lofa County, former Minister of Internal Affairs and former Liberian Ambassador to Sierra Leone.
Leaving Cuttington, the brilliant Bobby entered the University of Besançon, France, where he qualified as a Doctor of Psychiatry.
Following his graduation, he spent some years in Abidjan, La Cote d’Ivoire, where he became a close associate of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whom he later came to work for as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs. Before then he served as a key member of her political campaign for the presidency.
Since his return from Abidjan, Dr. McClain did not practice his profession as psychiatrist, though he was one of only two Liberian psychiatrists in country, the other being Dr. Benjamin Harris, who is engaged with the John F. Kennedy Medical Center. Dr. Harris confirmed to the Daily
Observer that Dr. McClain never really practiced psychiatry in Liberia. Dr. Harris, however, recalled that he consulted with Dr. McClain on a number of occasions, and that the two of them on few occasions did joint consultations with prisoners in Monrovia.
Minister Dr. Edward B. McClain Jr. was born in Monrovia on November 18, 1944, unto the union of Mr. Edward B. McClain Sr. and his wife, Mrs. Florence McClain, daughter of Mr. William R. Tolbert Sr. She was the eldest sister of Senator Frank E. Tolbert, President William R. Tolbert Jr. and the eminent Liberian business tycoon and former Agriculture Minister Steve Tolbert (during the Tubman administration).
Mr. Edward B. McClain Sr., father of Dr. Bobby McClain Jr., hailed from the Mhanwruune Quarter of Picnicess, in Grand Kru County. The McClains are related to the Nelsons, of which former Internal Affairs Minister Blamo Nelson is a prominent exponent. Being from the same Quarter in Picnicess, the Nelsons consider the McClain males as uncles.
Mr. Edward B. McClain Sr. came to Monrovia as a very young fellow and was raised by the McClain family in the capital city. In appreciation to that family that afforded him a sound education, Edward adopted McClain as his surname. However, the real name of his father was Boka Worjloh.
While in Monrovia, Edward B. McClain Sr. fell in love with Ms. Florence Tolbert, eldest daughter of Mr. William R. Tolbert Sr., a onetime Chairman of the True Whig Party, a staunch Baptist and a farmer and landholder in his native Bensonville, Montserrado County (now known as Bentol).
Edward and Florence McClain went on to bring forth many highly talented children, at least two of whom became medical doctors. Their eldest daughter Genevieve became the first Liberian female Accountant and rose to become Chief Accountant at the Department (now Ministry) of Public
Works. At least two of the McClain children, eldest brother Weseh and youngest sister Vashti, are also Harvard graduates, and several of their siblings hold doctorate degrees. The former President of the National Oil Company of Liberia, Dr. Randolph McClain, a product of Ricks Institute, took the PhD degree in Chemical Engineering.
Dr. Edward B. McClain Jr. chose as his wife Ms. Gwendolyn Pierre, daughter of the late former Supreme Court Chief Justice James A.A. Pierre. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the State and Presidential Affairs Minister, and Chief of Staff to the President of Liberia died on Saturday, July 23, 2016 at about 2:25 am Central African time at the Wilgers Life Hospital in Lynwood, Pretoria, South Africa.
Funeral arrangements will be announced later.