President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf broke down in tears yesterday at the funeral of Dr. Edward McClain Jr., who served as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff. He was also a long-time personal friend and confidant of the President.
Dr. McClain died on Saturday, July 23, at the Wilgers Life Hospital in Lynwood, Pretoria, South Africa, following a period of illness.
Fighting back tears, President Sirleaf described Dr. McClain as a dedicated, humble, selfless, efficient and loyal public servant to his country and people.
She said her relationship with Dr. McClain was extraordinary because they worked together for more than 18 years in the interest of the Liberian people, with Dr. McClain instrumental to her rise to the presidency.
“We worked together until the 1977 election separated us, and we later met in Abidjan. He devoted his time to work along with me in serving the people of Liberia and he showed a great sense of dedication as a servant when we returned to Liberia in 2003, which resulted to my success in 2006 when I took over as President of this nation,” she said, still in tears.
President Sirleaf said their relationship grew effectively and further when Dr. McClain kept his promise and commitment by putting his country first.
She lauded Dr. McClain for his contribution because he was one minister of government for whom no task or job was too big or small. Dr. McClain ignored his major health problems, she said, when he should have placed more focus on himself and did everything to work for his country and people.
“We can never have someone like you Bobbin,” President Sirleaf said, sobbing, “We can never match what you represented as a true friend… surpassed by your loyalty, selflessness, dedication, and as a humble public servant.
“I deeply regret your unexpected departure, which came too soon, and left to go and rest. Bobby I wish you a peaceful journey, and may your soul rest in peace.”
Giving the funeral discourse under the Theme: ‘My Duty While in the Valley’ from Job 1:6-22, Rev. Charles Diggs said that Dr. McClain lived an exemplary life that impacted society, friends and family.
“I urge those in higher positions to follow the example of Dr. McClain and serve your country to the end,” Rev. Diggs said. “McClain’s life was a clear picture of a humble servant, because at times he had problems with his boss, President Sirleaf, but it was never seen in the press, but was handled properly because of his diligent service to his country.”
Rev. Diggs urged the family to take solace in the Lord, not to lose hope, but continue to represent the life that Dr. McClain lived, for his name to live on.
The bereaved family expressed appreciation to the government of Liberia, as well as the President of Ivory Coast, who sent a representative to convey last respect to the fallen minister.
The funeral brought together several government officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps, former officials of government and well-wishers, who paid glowing tributes to Dr. McClain’s memory at the Providence Baptist Church on Ashmun Street in Monrovia.
The late Minister of State, Dr. Edward B. McClain, was interred at the Jake Melton Family Plot, in Caldwell. The Pierre matriarch was a Watts, who are close cousins of the Meltons. Dr. McClain was married into the Pierre family, most of whom are buried there.