ANNE MCKEE: John Mclure, a friend of Meridian

I read that over 200 people were convinced they were George H. W. Bush's best friend. That's hard to believe, but because I knew John McClure, I am not surprised that such a phenomenal thought could occur for just one man.

You know I thought he was my good, good friend, but more than likely, John was my acquaintance, albeit it, a beloved one.

Yes, John McClure was a beloved friend for so many in Meridian, but we lost him this week, such a great loss it was.

Oh yes, we all have our story to tell about John. My story began when Hubs met him during his days on staff with Mayor Jimmy Kemp. And therefore, Hubs and I would bump into John around town, at dinner and just out and about.

I thought he was one of the nicest guys in town and I was right, along with hundreds of other people, who thought the same.

Then I had the opportunity to volunteer when John was Meridian's Main Street Director. This opportunity clearly broadened my respect for this man. Not only was he super-friendly and kind, but I found that he was totally organized as well.

I learned so much from him during that time. I mean he made the mundane fun.

Under his direction, Meridian Main Street brought the Art Walk, the Candy Crawl and later when I, along with volunteers, began The Rose Hill Company, John McClure was one of our biggest supporters.

He said, "It's just fun."

And in 2010, I asked him to portray Mr. Lewis Ragsdale, Meridian Founder, for the first Rose Hill Cemetery Costumed Tour. He was hesitate at first, because none of us really knew what to expect that first year, but we soon realized this was an event that would repeat year after year.

John never complained but the hours standing in one place was tiring, and that is when he introduced me, "As the mother of Rose Hill Cemetery," to Steve Nabors, drama instructor at Meridian Community College, who took over the role and in a mighty way.

I admit I was a little shocked. I mean mother of a cemetery was perhaps a little odd, but I liked it.

Even though John was no longer a member of our Rose Hill Company, he remained a staunch supporter. Yes, we loved John McClure.

And did I mention "War Eagle'?

If you knew John McClure, even a little, then you knew he was a fan of Auburn University and the words "War Eagle" never left his vocabulary, never ever. And in the small town of Auburn, Ala., his friend count would be more like 2,000 rather than 200.

Yes, Meridian, Mississippi lost a good friend this week, but we are not alone. You see the 200 of us who thought John was our best friend, was never just two hundred people. No, if a John McClure friend survey was ever made, we would see the numbers rise to the thousands.

As John said, "It's just fun."

We'll see you on the other side, John McClure. Farewell, our friend.

Meridian native, Anne McKee, is a lively Mississippi-inspired Storyteller. See her website: www.annemckeestoryteller.com

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