Theater club

John R. McClive, 88, Buffalo Forge engineer, director of the Rotary Club | Featured Obituaries

November 13, 1933 – June 25, 2022

After reading Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “The Over-Soul” as a student, John R. McClive decided to dedicate his life to doing good for others.

Although he was a mechanical engineer, for a time he considered becoming a clergyman. Instead, as his son Curtis noted in a eulogy, he decided to do good through organizations.

His first choice was the Salvation Army, which he joined in 1959. He was active for more than 60 years ringing holiday bells and serving dinners to the needy.

He found another path in 1979 when he joined the Rotary Club of Buffalo. He hosts the monthly bulletin, the COG, with humorous poems and in 2005, he becomes general manager, a position he will hold for nine years. Many considered him the face of the club.

During his tenure, the club supported Cradle Beach Camp and the construction of its Rotary Field sports facility. The club also raised $500,000 to help create the Frank Lloyd Wright Fontana Boathouse for the West Side Rowing Club. He received the Paul Harris Fellow award from Rotary.

He died June 25 in hospice care at his home in Buffalo after a short illness. He was 88 years old.

The youngest of four boys, John Robert McClive spent his early years in Hamburg and graduated in 1951 from Lafayette High School, where he was a member of the tennis team and the rowing team.

He received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1955 from the University at Buffalo, where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and the Air Force ROTC program. He was also a member of the Arnold Air Society, an honorary society within the ROTC.

Commissioned as an officer, he was a pilot and reached the rank of first lieutenant. His son Curtis said that while Mr McClive was stationed in Alabama, “he went to the movies one night with some of his fellow pilots to see Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me Tender'”. In response to his distaste for the Jim Crow laws in place at the time, he chose not to sit in the “whites only” section, but instead to sit on the balcony, where blacks were kept to sit.”

He was an engineer with Buffalo Forge Co. and worked in design engineering, sales engineering, and marketing. His son noted that “he was proud to work at the company where Willis Carrier had invented electric air conditioning nearly 60 years earlier.”

A member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, he has received several awards from state and national professional engineering bodies. In recent years, he has lectured on the role of Buffalo Forge in the development of modern air conditioning systems.

In 1979, when his son Curtis acquired a Texas Instruments TI-58, one of the first programmable calculators, he learned to program it himself and use it to retrieve information.

His son said, “He found he could reduce the response time of Buffalo Forge’s sales engineering team to customer requests for fans, blowers, air conditioners, etc., by replacing a notebook filled with consultation charts and graphs with a programmable calculator capable of calculating the same information. It was a few years before the first IBM PC hit the market.

After retiring from Buffalo Forge in the late 1980s, he worked with Computer Systems Integrated, providing one-on-one assistance to contractors in setting up their computers.

A member of Westminster Presbyterian Church for more than 60 years, he was co-chair of the Re-entry Friends program, which helped people rehabilitate after release from prison through mentoring and finding jobs. When the program began serving at-risk students at Bennett High School, it taught them math.

In the 1970s he began researching the history of Westminster’s Gothic stained glass windows and the biblical stories they depict. He lectured about them and provided commentary to visitors as part of the church’s open house programs during the Allentown Art Festival.

He and the former Louise House Eder married in Westminster in 1985. They made annual trips abroad and to Europe, Greece, Turkey and Israel.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two daughters, Catharine McGovern and Caren Weaver; two sons, Colin and Curtis; and two stepsons, Jeffrey Eder and William Eder.

A celebration of his life was held on July 1 at Westminster Presbyterian Church.