Mrs. Magdalene McClain, Visiting Home after a Long Period, Dies Suddenly

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The late Mrs. Magdalene Aurelia McClain

Wife of former NOCAL President, Dr. Randolph McClain

Mrs. Magdalene Darling McClain, wife of the former president of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Dr. Randolph McClain, and a longtime award-winning Math and Science teacher in the United States, died suddenly at the ELWA Hospital on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, following a brief illness.

She was 65.

Madam McClain had only a few days earlier arrived home, accompanied by her husband, Dr. McClain, after a long period of absence from the country. She has spent most of her professional life in the USA, teaching Math and Science.

A product of St. Teresa’s Convent (STC) and the University of Liberia (UL), both of Monrovia, Magdalene later traveled to the United States and entered the University of Kansas, where she took the Master’s degree in Microbiology.

She followed her passion for teaching and has taught Math and Science for many years in American schools, winning many awards as an exemplary teacher of those subjects.

On December 29, 1979, she was wedded to Dr. Randolph McClain, a chemical engineer employed with the American industrial giant DuPont of the State of Delaware. This union was blessed with four children—Bokah Worjoloh, who holds an MBA; Ayaba Gbeye Worjoloh a medical doctor; Taneh Worjoloh, who holds a BSc; and Afiavi, who holds an MBA.

Magdalene Darling Gbenyon McClain was born on August 6, 1952, to the union of Mr. Lawrence Gbenyon and his wife, Mrs. Aurelia Weeks Gbenyon. Mr. Gbenyon, who migrated to Liberia from Togo, became a well-known and outstanding accountant, serving several important Liberian institutions.

His wife Aurelia was the eldest sister of the Weeks Brothers—James, former Minister of Planning and later Finance; Rocheforte, first Liberian and longest serving president of University of Liberia; Monroe, former pastor of Reeves Memorial Methodist Church, Crozierville; Anthony, founder of Auriole Enterprises; and Jefferson.

All of them were children of the Rev. J.I.A. Weeks and his wife, Madam Rosetta Ledlow Weeks — he of Crozierville, Montserrado County and she of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

Rev. J.I.A. Weeks was pastor of Reeves Memorial, where two of his sons, James and Rocheforte, served as organists.

Tragedy hit the Gbenyon family in 1952, shortly following the birth of their daughter, Magdalene Darling Gbenyon. Mrs. Aurelia Gbenyon took ill and died soon after. But Mr. Gbenyon raised his infant daughter and put her into the Convent, along with her elder sisters, Patricia, and Rachel Gbenyon, now Madam Rachel Diggs, former Liberian Ambassador to Washington, D.C. Magdalene remained at the Convent until her high school graduation.

It was after their beloved sister Aurelia, Magdalene’s mother, whom they lost early, that the Weeks brothers, led by younger brother Anthony Benedict Weeks, named their school uniforms company, Auriole Enterprises, Inc. Auriole, founded in 1967, became for decades the main supplier of school uniforms throughout Liberia.

Dr. and Mrs. Randolph McClain were wedded December 29, 1979.

On Friday, March 30, Dr. Randolph McClain undertook the most painful task of escorting his wife’s mortal remains back to their children in the United States, where the funeral is scheduled to take place. Magdalene was an active member of the St. Patrick’s and St. Teresa’s Convent Alumni Association in the United States, commonly called “the Saints and Friskies.”

Hundreds of them will most likely turn out for her funeral. Ricks Institute, high school alma mater of Dr. McClain, which also has a dynamic alumni Association in the USA, is also expected to be well represented at the funeral.

At the removal from the Samuel Stryker Funeral Home last Friday afternoon, March 30, scores of relatives, including Dr. Charles McClain of the Agriculture Ministry, Randolph’s brother, the Weekses and friends were in attendance. The Weekses present included eldest brother Rocheforte, Jr., his younger siblings, Alexander, Euphemia, former Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) Chairperson, as well as Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks and his wife Arnette.

Many other friends of the family and close associates of Dr. Randolph McClain were also present, including his Club 21 mate, GOL appointee-extraordinary, Charles Bright. The Abdallahs, Cerif and his wife Carmenia, were also present. So were Masonic Grand Master James A. Pierre and former Liberia Petroleum Refining Company Managing Director T. Nelson Williams, Jr.  The Tolberts of Bentol, including former Mayor Christine Norman and her husband Lawrence, and former National Investment Commission Chair, Richard Tolbert, were also present.

So were Eddie and Elaine Dunn of United World Travel Services, Reginald and Mornjay Pratt and sister Harriett George, Mrs. Adelaide Gardiner, building contractor H.Q. Taylor, petroleum entrepreneur Aida Clarke and Idella Cooper, formerly of the Justice Ministry and NOCAL. A group formerly of NOCAL, led by former Board member Charles Bass Golakeh and former Acting Head, Madam Althea Eastman Sherman, paid a brief tribute to the fallen wife of their former president, Dr. McClain.

Madgelene’s mother and father, Lawrence and Aurelia Gbenyon, and younger brother, Charles Gbenyon of the Liberian Broadcasting System (LBS), predeceased her.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. Randolph McClain, their four children, Bokah, Ayaba, Taneh and Afiavi; four grandchildren; and many other relatives. Survivors also include aunts, among them Madam Patricia Gbenyon, a pharmacist; Ambassador Rachel Gbenyon Diggs, wife of Dr. Joseph Diggs; and Madam Etweeda Sugars Gbenyon Cooper, widow of former Action, Development and Progress Minister Julius Cooper.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

5 COMMENTS

  1. This is a very sad story. May God console the hearts of the families, most especially, the children, grand kids and the husband. We can’t ask God why but sometimes, we get tempted to; however, He loves her best.

  2. By the historical content and epitome of journalism, you can tell whenever the indomitable veteran, K.Y. Best himself, is the author of one of these pieces. What a gem? Profound sympathy and condolences to the bereaved families, friends and school/class-mates, including myself, a Saint. Let us continue to persevere as believers, believing that one day, we shall exchange these agonies and many more for that crown preserved for us.

  3. Randy, we share your loss with you and the family. Darling was a darling to not only her immediate family, but all she came in contact with. She had a very pleasant personality. I know it is hard, but you are not alone. We will keep you and the entire family in our prayers, DARLING REST IN PEACE!

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