Ex-GSA head dies

Jeffrey McClain, 27, the founder of Marquette's Gay/Straight Alliance and former Marquette Student Government financial vice president, died in a plane crash during a New Year's Day snowstorm.

McClain co-piloted the Piper Seminole, which was flying from Oakland, Calif., to North Bend, Oregon. McClain was returning from San Francisco, where he spent New Year's Eve. According to The Associated Press, Mark Ritchie, the 23-year old pilot, reported having power problems. The aircraft tried to make an emergency landing near Rough and Ready Creek but crashed upside down, killing McClain on the spot and injuring three Washington residents. Federal Aviation Administration investigators were scouring the wreckage site for evidence of engine problems as of Jan. 3. The aircraft was registered to the Piper Project II of Sumner, Wash., and was leased by the Auburn Flight Services of Auburn at the time of the crash.

"Jeffrey has left us, but he will forever be a part of Marquette's history," said GSA President Michael Maloney. "Most people just get their degrees and leave, but Jeffrey made this campus a better place."

McClain transferred to Marquette from Seattle and transferred out in 2000 to pursue a piloting career. While on campus, McClain majored in business and got very involved in campus activities. He was the financial vice president of MUSG, one of the founders of GSA and the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

Student leaders and professors remembered McClain as an active student leader and valued member of the community.

"Jeff was a passionate and dedicated student leader," said Jon Dooley, assistant dean of Student Development. "He was concerned about issues of justice and equality and actively worked to promote a diverse and inclusive campus community."

"For those who knew him and worked with him we are lucky to be blessed with memories of him," said Matt Roman, former GSA president.

"I remember him as a very sensitive and open person who also had a great sense of humor," said Mark McCarthy, dean of Student Development. "Jeffrey was an energetic and engaging student who made friends easily and jumped right into leadership in MUSG. I was very sorry to hear about his death through such a tragic accident."

"I knew him through Campus Ministries," said adjunct assistant professor of Performing Arts the Rev. Grant Garringer. "I talked to him a lot. He was friendly, warm, intelligent, interesting. He had a lot of perseverance."