Beloved Southeastern professor leaves behind a legacy of love and laughter

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By David Campbell

In the obituary published by Brown’s Funeral Service, Dell McLain is described as having been an “incredible human being who captured the hearts of all” and “nothing short of spectacular.” The people he left behind are encouraged to live their lives to the fullest, and to laugh— a lot.

Addison Martin, Staff Writer

For Dell McLain, every morning was a whole new day to seize and spend making a difference in someone else’s life.

On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, the curtains closed on the life of Dell McLain. Throughout his short 55 years of being larger than life, he made a point to make every day count. He was someone who infused energy and kindness into every person who crossed paths with him. He was not just an educator, but a mentor and friend.

McLain pushed students to try new things and gave them opportunities to reach the outstanding potential he knew they had. He saw greatness in each student at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and was right there with them, helping to tear down walls that stood in their way.

He made an impact not just on the students he taught, but on his colleagues as well.

Dell McLain

“I can say without a doubt that Dell’s friendship and mentorship changed my life forever,” said Michael Scheuerman, Director of Bands at Southeastern.

Scheuerman said his first memories of McLain are from a decade ago when he had first begun working as an adjunct instructor at the university.

“I got to know Dell in Stacy Weger’s office,” he explained, Weger being the former Chair of the Department of Music. “Their humor, personalities and compassion ultimately made Durant and Southeastern the place I wanted to be.”

“Dell was intelligent, creative, had a big personality and he cared deeply for his family, friends and students,” Scheuerman stated.

Countless posts on McLain’s Facebook timeline were made to honor his memory. People shared their accounts of the love, creativity and encouragement he spread in the small town of Durant.

Many Southeastern alumni reminisced on how impactful McLain was in their lives and how supportive he was of their careers through these posts.

Taylor Ray Donaldson, a Southeastern graduate who studied Theatre Management, shared the influence McLain had on him. “He made such a huge impact on my life. He taught me to dream big and make magic with what you have,” Donaldson said.

He met McLain as a freshman in 2009. McLain directed Hamlet, the first Southeastern production Donaldson participated in.

“Dell definitely pushed me to my limits and beyond,” he recalled. “He always knew how to push me outside of my comfort zone in order to learn. He saw past the limiting beliefs I had of myself and pushed me to learn and grow.”

The influence McLain had on every student, citizen and educator he met will not disappear. No matter what he was doing, whether it was directing, acting, singing, teaching or mixing drinks, he did so with a purpose and captured the hearts and minds of everyone around him.

While the stage lights of his life have dimmed, Dell McLain will always be remembered as a shining beacon of hope for the countless lives he touched. The theatre building will stand as a reminder of his passion for the arts, and his presence will be missed, not just at Southeastern, but throughout the community of Durant.

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