President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf received the remains of her fallen Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff Dr. Edward B. McClain, Jr. in tears at the Roberts International Airport Sunday afternoon, 31 July, about a week after he died at a South African Hospital on 23 July where he was being treated.
President Sirleaf was accompanied to the RIA by some of her cabinet officials where the bereaved family and friends had assembled to receive the deceased. A box bearing Dr. McClain’s remains was led to President Sirleaf by officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL, while officials paraded behind it just after being unloaded from a commercial plane.
The remains were brought to Monrovia and deposited at the Samuel Stryker Funeral Home in Sinkor after a brief prayer ceremony, pending an official protocol on his funeral and interment.
Government announced the death of Dr. McClain on Saturday, 23 July following a period of illness for which he had been undergoing treatment at the Wilgers Life Hospital in Lynwood, Pretoria, South Africa.
Dr. Edward B. McClain, Jr. was born on November 18, 1944 and would have turned 72 in November, but died following a period of illness. President Sirleaf did not make comment upon receiving her fallen official; but some cabinet colleagues see his death as a loss to the state and someone they will miss because he was accessible and welcoming.
Liberia’s Foreign Minister Madam Marjon Kamara said there were many things that “we” could discuss with him, saying he was accessible and laughed with people and made people feel good if they had something bothering them.
“It’s a special character, it’s a unique character and we’re going to miss him for those qualities that we don’t find every day in people,” she said, noting that sometimes people take jobs and you are afraid of them, and you will have to look at their faces before entering their offices.
Gender Minister Madam Julia Duncan Cassell said Dr. McClain would be missed and that it would difficult to find a replacement as she went on to reflect on some of the fallen Minister’s jokes with his colleagues.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne