Deceased December 17, 2010
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Jim McClure personified the qualities of mind and character that Amherst’s founders called “piety and intellect.” He was an engaged citizen of his community and country, a devoted husband and father, a skilled legal practitioner, a fair and respected judge and a scholar of the law.
Jim collected, but did not flaunt, all the academic distinctions: high school valedictorian, Phi Beta Kappa and Law Review. After military service, he sampled legal work in government, a large law firm and a corporation before joining the Lewisburg, Pa., firm founded by his grandfather, in which his father practiced. He served the Pennsylvania Bar Association on several committees and was appointed to fill a judicial vacancy. Subsequently, he won election to a term that was interrupted by appointment as a U.S. district judge. He held that position for 20 years.
Known professionally as “The Honorable,” his pastor remarked that the title in his community needed no capital letter. Lewisburg relied on him to lead his church and the school board. He sang in a community chorus and in his church choir. Married to Betty Lou—whom Amherst classmates may recall as queen of the prom—for nearly 60 years, he was the father of five daughters, including Mary Elizabeth Hudec ’83. Jim exemplified the phrase “pillar of the community.”
His Amherst contemporaries will not be surprised to read this abbreviated summary of his life and career. But they will also remember Jim’s knack for assisting with the Sunday crossword puzzle, his skill at the bridge table and his capacity for friendship. They will recall him as a founder of Frisbee for providing the top of a can of Pennsylvania pretzels that was the original disc in games on the lawn of Phi Alpha Psi. His distinctions at Amherst extended beyond his magna degree. He was a pillar of that community, too. His classmates join in fond recollection of a man who well deserved his title as “The Honorable.”
—Ted Bedford ’52