Aaron McCullough, associational missionary for Troup Baptist Association, called him “the top rung of the ladder.” He was speaking of Reverend James “Olin” McClain of LaGrange, who died on January 13, 2018. Pastor McClain had the distinction of serving as pastor of Wehadkee Baptist Church in LaGrange for 32 years.
McCullough stated, “Brother Olin was beloved by people all across the area and by his fellow pastors in particular. In fact, the pastors in our association decided to honor him by making him the pastor emeritus of the Troup County Baptist Association.”
Paul Baxter, former pastor of First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange and current associational missionary of Pine Mountain Baptist Association, explained, “Brother McClain was a wonderful, highly respected minister. He was a sweet spirited man in every sense of the word. He would dress up every day as if he were going to church.”
McCullough added, “He always attended the weekly pastors’ prayer luncheon we had in the association. He probably preached his last sermon at one of the prayer gatherings. He preached on the prodigal son and called his sermon “The Prodigal’s Pet Pig.” In recent months he happened to miss several luncheons in succession and the pastors decided after the luncheon that they were going to visit him in his home. When we got there we found him dressed in a suit and tie, which was his custom in public, but we had no idea we would find him in a suit and tie in his home on a weekday, but he was dressed up and looked like he was ready to preach. He was asked, ‘Why are you so dressed up today?’
“Brother Olin replied, ‘I am an ambassador for my Lord and I think I need to look like one.’”
McCullough continued, “I never heard him say anything that was unkind or unchristian; and I never knew him to do anything that would be uncharacteristic of a man of God.”
Baxter recalled, “I taught courses on Christianity at LaGrange College for 14 years. One of the high points in all those years was teaching Olin McClain in a New Testament class. He sat on the front row and was eager to learn even though he was in his eighties at the time; and he made an A+ in the class.”
The Rev. McClain was born Sept. 24, 1925, in Troup County, Georgia, to the late James Joseph McClain and Tiny Bales McClain. He proudly served his country in the United States Navy and the United States National Guard of Georgia. Before retirement, he was the general manager of Fling/Steve Harris Ford while also serving Wehadkee Baptist Church. He served the Lord in ministry and pastored churches in LaGrange for more than 55 years, including his 32 years at Wehadkee.
Pastor McClain was also a member of the Optimist Club and was a founding member of the LaGrange area Camp of Gideons International. He was a member of the search committee that purchased the land that is now Rockridge Baptist Assembly and served on the boards of Rockridge, The Harbor, and The Alpha Multipurpose Center.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Reba Lois Yates McClain; sister, Ruby White O’Neal; and grandson-in-law, Adam Vinson.
Survivors include his daughter, Rebecca “Becky” (Ken) Carter; son, David Olin (Paula) McClain; grandchildren, Tiffany Vinson, Mary Beth (Garrett) Pelt, Stacie (Keith) Palmer, Logan McClain, and Matthew (Katie) Carter; great grandchildren, Cierra Vinson, Emily Palmer, Saralynn Pelt, Ansley Palmer, and Carter Pelt; sisters, JoAnn Hamilton and Nell (Paul) Joy; several nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.
A celebration of life service was scheduled for January 17, but postponed due to the inclement weather. Rev. McCullough and Cade Ferris, pastor of First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange have been announced as the ministers to officiate at the service.