There has been an outpouring of love and support from the IMSA family over Facebook, emails, text messages, forums, and phone calls in the wake of Eric McLaren‘s passing last week. People have shared amazing stories about his role in their lives as a coach, mentor, colleague, and friend.
Some of the stories have been pretty funny; others have been incredibly heartfelt. Even though I didn’t interact with him much, I found during my time on campus as a high schooler and, later, as an older sibling of younger students, as an intersession instructor, as a member of the IMSA Alumni Association, and as a visitor that Mr. (sorry, I mean “Dr.”!) McLaren would always make me and my family feel welcome. He did the normal stuff that good people do, but he did it for basically everyone involved with IMSA. Sometimes it seems like people can’t possibly know all 1,000 of their Facebook friends — not only did Dr. McLaren know all of them and their legal guardians, he also had a kind word for every member of the extended IMSA family.
He was such a vital part of the campus life and community at IMSA, it came as no surprise to learn that he had been at the school since it opened its doors in 1986. It felt like he had always been there, keeping an eye on us and keeping us out of trouble (or trying to!). Sure enough, he had.
Like me, Dr. McLaren met his spouse at IMSA. (Some people think that IMSA is weird — and they aren’t wrong!) Dr. McLaren was well known for his quirk of not wearing socks. (Like I said, it’s an unusual place.) From his heart to his toes, Dr. McLaren will always be a part of the weird and wonderful legacies of IMSA (the link goes to just one), a weird and wonderful place that he helped turn into a home and community for so many (weird and wonderful) students, past, present, and future.
His untimely death is incredibly sad, but I am happy to be a part of the family he helped to build at IMSA and to hear the stories of those who had the pleasure of knowing him and learning from (and sometimes teaching with!) him through the years.
Thanks for the stories. Thanks for everything, Mr. McLaren.