Biographical / Historical
Bruce McClellan was born on April 10th, 1924 in Spring Grove, County of York Pennsylvania, the third of four children of William S. and Josephine N. McClellan. He was Vice President in charge of Sales for P.H. Glatfelter Co. His parents, both college graduates, Williams '08 and Bryn Mawr '14, epitomized community involvement. Bruce grew up in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, a small paper mill town, associated with the ownership of it and the freedom to explore it, knowing its employees and their families, and enjoying the surrounding open natural world of fields, woods, and the mill dam. He considered being a Chemistry major for a possible future in the mill. Perhaps as an only son he went to camp for the summers, first the local Boy Scout Camp, later Camp Pocono where he was also a counselor.
His education began in Kindergarten at York Collegiate Institute-York County Academy, a private day school, and continued through 10th grade when he matriculated to Deerfield Academy. Mary Elizabeth Wisotzkey joined that class of 12 students in 7th grade. Both were on the editorial board of the school newspaper in 10th grade and attended the Columbia Scholastic Press Association meetings in New York City in 1939. He entered Williams College in the fall of 1941, completed two years before joining the U.S. Army Air Force, where he served as a B-24 bomber pilot in the 8th Air Force for 35 missions, earning the Air Medal with Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross, and being separated as Captain in 1945. He completed his B.A. in English with induction into Phi Beta Kappa at Williams in 1946, married Mary Elizabeth, and they went to Deerfield for his first year of teaching English, before further study and a degree in English Language and Literature during two years as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. In later life, he received honorary degrees from Rider University, Lafayette College, Williams College, and York College.
As an assistant dean at Williams in 1950, he was interviewing Lawrenceville students when he was himself being interviewed for a teaching position. He was hired by Head Master Allan Heely to teach English at The Lawrenceville School and came to Lawrenceville in August, 1950. From 1953 until Head Master Heely's death in 1959, the McClellan family lived in Hamill House. He remained an active and deeply involved Head Master through the often difficult sixties, seventies and eighties. In the 1960's he was instrumental in opening the school to African-American students as well as in keeping discussion of coeducation alive until the board of trustees voted in 1985 to open the school to women. Mary Elizabeth McClellan was instrumental in bringing together the Fathers Association and the Ladies Auxiliary to the Lawrenceville School Infirmary into Parents at Lawrenceville in 1975, and provided leadership for the changing roles of women on campus. She served as an Elder in the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, as an active member of the board of directors of the Princeton YWCA, and became a published author for the Bucks County Historical Society in Doylestown P A. The McClellans raised three children, Ann, William, and Robert, in Foundation House and remained there until 1986 when Bruce McClellan retired. During his tenure, McClellan presided over the construction of the Kirby Arts Center, the McGraw Infirmary, the Irwin Dining Center, and set in motion the building of the Crescent Houses that welcomed Lawrenceville's first female students.
Perhaps the key to McClellan's ability to navigate the School through rough waters was the total of his life experience to date. He had an innate sense of self worth coupled with intelligence and a sense of humor, the family experience of involvement in a small town, and he enjoyed people. His wartime experience continued to bear witness to his natural leadership skills. He even grew up in a Victorian house not unlike Foundation House. He was known for his ability to relate to students and adults alike. In his special relationship to the Fifth Form, he regularly had lunch with small groups in his Abbott Dining Room. He loved teaching and always taught a first period class in Room 1 in Mem Hall during his years as Head Master. He enjoyed embodying being a teaching Master with being the Head and promoted the use of that title. In retirement McClellan continued to teach as a docent for the Society of the Protection of New Hampshire Forests where he became a trustee, and continued to be a Head Master of sorts as the Moderator of Dublin to Town Meetings reminiscent of the tenor of faculty meetings. He served as a trustee at Deerfield Academy, sharing experience leading toward coeducation there. Pursuing his experience with land conservation in New Jersey with MSM (Mercer-Somerset-Middlesex Counties), he was one of three founders of Monadnock Conservancy in southern New Hampshire now in its 25th year, and one of two founders of MESA, Monadnock Eastern Slope Association, also focused on preserving land use in and around Mt. Monadnock itself McClellan died in October 2008 at 84 at home in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Mary Elizabeth still resides in Peterborough and remains in close contact with the School.