Sally-Bruce McClatchey, 92: Role model for lifelong learning

Mother of eight children, Sally-Bruce McClatchey balanced being a mother, wife, friend, student and teacher seamlessly with grace and impeccable structure.

“She was an amazing provider, she had a sense of incredible hospitality and she was an incredible achiever,” said her daughter Elizabeth Brown.

She was quiet, considerate and very kind, added her daughter Juliet Allan.

Born in Seattle, McClatchey went to the Strathcona Lodge School on Vancouver Island, Canada, where she graduated at age 16. She then attended the University of Washington in Seattle in 1942 and at 19 years old she received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in botany.

She was a wise woman with an intense curiosity, said her son James McClatchey. “She knew something about everything,” added her son John McClatchey.

In 1942 she met the man who would become her husband of 60 years, Marvin Reynolds McClatchey of Atlanta who was then in the Navy, stationed in Seattle. The two wed three months later and moved to Atlanta.

During a summer in the late 1940s McClatchey made a note card that identified every plant on their 18-acre property. She appreciated the natural world and served dinner from scratch every night at 6:15 p.m. “Not 6:10 or 6:20,” said Allan.

Ever an information sponge, after the birth of her eight children McClatchey returned to school. In 1973 she earned a master’s degree in teaching, and then earned a master’s in library science in 1974 from Emory.

“She showed us in her education that educating your children was very important,” said Brown. “We all took that very seriously because of her.”

McClatchey organized the libraries of the Georgia Conservancy and the Cherokee Garden Library. She served as librarian for Mount Paran Church of God, North Avenue Presbyterian Church, The Cherokee Garden Club and St. Anne’s Episcopal Church.

She was president of the Church and Synagogue Library Association of the United States from 1985 to 1987 and in 1993 accepted its award for Outstanding Contribution to Congregational Libraries.

“As a youngster, any time I had a question she would show me how to find the answer; she really focused on teaching us how to do it, not do it for us,” said her son Bill McClatchey.

Sally-Bruce Blackford McClatchey of Atlanta died Wednesday of natural causes. She was 92. A funeral service will be 1 p.m. Saturday at Anne’s Episcopal Church, 3098 Saint Annes Lane Northwest, Atlanta. H. M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill is in charge of arrangements.

“She set and example on how to be of service to others and how to stay disciplined and organized in life,” said her son Penn McClatchey.

Her children remember their mother being by the side of those who needed her, from nursing son Penn’s sprained ankle to visiting son John’s wife every week in the hospital after that daughter-in-law suffered a stroke to spending every night in the hospital with her daughter Sally after a major procedure.

“I couldn’t have done it without her,” added her daughter Sally Larsen.

McClatchey was preceded in death by her husband. She is survived by her eight children: M. Reynolds McClatchey III, John B. McClatchey, William M. McClatchey, James N. McClatchey, Sally McClatchey Larsen, Penn M. McClatchey, Juliet McClatchey Allan, all of Atlanta, and Elizabeth McClatchey Brown of Asheville, N.C.; 25 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.