ShareThis Page
Obituary Stories

Kecksburg man, 82, knew all about horsepower — and horses

Jeff Himler
| Saturday, May 26, 2018, 6:09 p.m.
James C. McClain
James C. McClain

James McClain knew all about horsepower. His calling as an adult was repairing diesel trucks for the Army and then a soft drink company.

As a teen, he made use of a more traditional form of horsepower to lend a hand at his family's Mount Joy farm.

“He was a good horseman,” said his son, Jim. “He would take one of his pap's horses into town with a set of plows and plow people's gardens for them.”

With the money he earned, he was able to buy a set of horse harnesses of his own.

Mr. McClain also rode for pleasure. Accompanied by a cousin who boarded horses, “once a year he would go up to Ridgway and go riding in the state forest,” his son said. “He always seemed to enjoy that.”

James C. McClain, 82, of Kecksburg died at his home Wednesday, May 23, 2018, after a battle with cancer. Born June 11, 1935, in Saltlick Township, he was a son of the late Emory and Irma McClain.

Mr. McClain served in the Army's 964th Engineer Company Field Maintenance unit from December 1958 to March 1960 and continued as a reservist more than two years. Posted as a diesel mechanic in Germany and at Fort Bragg, N.C., he was commended for demonstrating “versatility, energy, intelligence, loyalty and good judgment.”

When he returned to civilian life, Mr. McClain drove a coal truck and then put his mechanical skills to work servicing diesel trucks 12 years for Leonard Express and Carolina Freight and another 20 years for Pepsi-Cola, where he retired at 62.

Fitting out his garage at home with mechanic's tools, he maintained his own vehicles, including a favorite El Camino, and taught his sons to do the same.

“We had a block and tackle on the rafters,” Jim recalled. “We didn't pay mechanics. We just did it all here.”

A member of Fairview Church of God in Kecksburg, Mr. McClain enjoyed hunting and, after his retirement, made road trips to Maryland to buy produce from Amish farmers.

Accompanied by his wife and two friends, he drove to Alaska and back.

“He told me they were sitting in a restaurant and watching a mountain goat across the street,” Jim said. “You don't see that in Kecksburg.”

In addition to his parents, Mr. McClain was preceded in death by a sister, Virginia Whetsel. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Claudia; two sons, Jim B. and Randall, both of Kecksburg; four grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; and five siblings.

He was interred with military rites at Westmoreland County Memorial Park.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me