Editor’s note: Every Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs A Life To Remember. Each story in this ongoing series takes a look back – through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers, and more – at a member of the community who recently passed away. “A Life Remembered” is about Craig Martin McClain, who died on November 12 at the age of 83.
Life with Craig MacLean has always been fun and exciting for his wife, Abby.
The polyglot traveler, outdoor man, diver, and shooter can read several books at once and direct his keen heart and intellect to serve, guide and encourage others.
“My fondest memories of him are how much he encouraged me to go for things and do things,” she said. “It helped me grow.”
He has also kept the growth of Hagerstown-based Horizon Goodwill Industries.
During his three decades as CEO and CEO, the organization that helps people overcome barriers to employment has grown from three retail stores and nearly $500,000 in annual revenue to 17 stores and more than $18 million in annual revenue at the time of his retirement in 2015. .
It now has a presence in 17 counties in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, about 550 employees and projected revenue of $25 million for next year, according to current CEO David Schuster.
“A lot of what we do today is built upon the foundation that Craig laid during his tenure,” he said.
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Born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, McClain began his travels around the world as a child. His father, Kenneth MacLean, worked as an accountant for an engineering firm with offshore projects that took the family to locations such as Greece, Guam and Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean.
MacLean was fluent in Dutch, spoke Greek and some Spanish, could read German, and eventually picked up some Tagalog in the Philippines.
Social gatherings as a teenager attending an international school in Greece exposed him to the mix of world cultures.
“It wasn’t unusual to go to a party and listen to all the different languages; you could answer in one language and speak another,” Abby said. “It was a wonderful way of life.”
As a result, MacLean has always been interested in foreign affairs and ahead of other cultures and cuisines.
This way of life also sparked his interest in how organizations work, a talent that would later be combined with his love of helping the people at the head of Horizon Goodwill Industries.
“At Goodwill, he found a home and something he really enjoyed where he could help the community and… its clients,” Abe said.
After serving in the US Army, McClain moved to live with his uncle in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Brooklyn College, where he received a BA in political science in 1964.
During his summer school history class, he got into a heated argument with another student who was a Brooklyn resident.
“And we kept arguing all the way to the train station and all the way home, and we haven’t stopped in almost 59 years,” Abby joked.
After graduating from Stanford University, they married and spent their honeymoon camping in New England, an activity they later enjoyed as a married couple as well as with their three children, Ken, Heather and Jenna, throughout the United States and Canada.
During that honeymoon trip, McClain borrowed a raincoat from Abby to set up camp, and she was the one who ended up soaking.
“If he doesn’t chase after me, he won’t chase me,” she said with a laugh.
They settled in Princeton, New Jersey, where MacLean was pursuing graduate studies in politics and government at Princeton University.
He went on to teach at Oberlin College in Ohio and Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.
MacLean loved teaching, but was not comfortable trying to make the same repetitive material enjoyable for the students.
So his real calling came when he began job testing and customer needs assessment at Goodwill in Cumberland, Maryland, where he worked as a branch manager for five years before being named CEO of the larger organization.
His passion for education, organization and people came together in one job.
“It encouraged education, so that (agents of goodwill) could develop into positions,” Abe said. “He really cared about the people there, and you can see that in his interactions with both employees and customers.”
The MacLean family has requested commemorative donations to the Craig M. MacLean-HGI Scholarship Fund through the Community Foundation of Washington County MD, Inc.
Upon his retirement, the board of directors of Horizon Goodwill Industries named the agency’s headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown the Craig M. MacLean Center for Career Development.
The agency plans to nominate him for CEO membership in the Hall of Fame of Goodwill Industries International.
After McClain’s death, Chairman Ron Powers said in a prepared statement that he was proud to know him.
“Throughout his time at Horizon Goodwill, Craig has reached out to unemployed and underrepresented individuals across our land,” Powers said. “His business model was well thought out and meticulously executed at the most appropriate time in our history.”
McClain was a strong advocate for women, encouraging and mentoring female staff, some of whom went on to run other nonprofit agencies.
He encouraged Abe to get another degree when she was learning a new computer language while teaching mathematics and computer science at Frederick Community College.
“I think his encouragement to me was one of the most beautiful things, because it helped me keep growing,” she said.
It was also bitten by a travel bug.
“He just planted the seed and then it blossomed and we were off,” she said.
Her Christmas gift from diving lessons also blossomed, and she eventually took them on diving trips to locations like Maui, Cancun, the Cayman Islands, and Thailand.
Their trips to the United States included visits to Alaska, Hawaii, most of the western states, the southern tier of the United States, New England, and some of the Midwest.
Their world travels included European countries along the Rhine and Danube rivers, Ecuador, Mexico, the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Russia, Italy, Spain, Croatia, and Greece.
While they were snowbirds living in Virginia and spending the winter in Englewood, Florida, they bowled as a way to stay active and socialize. MacLean did really well at it, scoring in the mid-100s.
MacLean had an enduring appetite for learning and an extensive library. Sometimes reading two or three books at the same time, he was able to combine new facts on the topics he had previously studied into a web of knowledge.
In addition to his library, he had a large collection of other things as well.
Abe said he was the biggest procrastinator and firmer in the world.
“I finally said, ‘We don’t really need our check receipts from the year we got married,'” she said with a laugh.
Abe said he was a quiet man who was always fun to be with, and they even enjoyed their time together at their home in Englewood during the pandemic.
“We just enjoyed being together and watching almost every British detective show on Netflix,” she said.
His well-known sense of humor helped him through his cancer treatment during that time.
“All of his caretakers noted that he was a very nice patient,” Abby said. “He was joking with them.”
The last weeks of his life were a special time for the couple.
“This kind of person was a blessing, because as hard as the time was, we can still enjoy the time we had,” Abe said.