Rev. Clinton McNair, founding director of the counseling program at Seattle University passes away

March 21, 2017

UPDATE: Memorial Service for Rev. Clinton McNair

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
4:30 to 5:45 p.m. Memorial Service
6:00 p.m. Dinner (all are welcome)
Seattle First Baptist, 1111 Harvard Ave., Seattle, WA 98122

Rev. Clinton McNair, the founding director of the counseling program at Seattle University died on March 16 in Charlotte, North Carolina, after a short illness. Dr. McNair was a trusted colleague and friend to many at the school and university, an active American Baptist minister in the Puget Sound region, and leader in the pastoral counseling community in the Pacific Northwest through the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.  

"Clinton cared for the whole person," the current director of the School's counseling program, Dr. Christie Eppler, said. "Even when I would meet with him, to discuss the program and student progress he would ask if I had taken my vitamins and ask about my dog.  He was passionate about our students getting to know themselves well so they could be good counselors and had a real heart for training up the next generation." Dr. Eppler said McNair's love of history had changed her own thinking about strategic thinking, too. "He was a lover of history. Now, because of my work with Clinton, I ask not only where we are going, but where we've been and where we've come from." 

Dr. McNair, who practiced pastoral psychotherapy for more than 30 years, came to the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University in 2006 as the inaugural director of the school’s new Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling degree, and built the initial curriculum and internship programs. In order to provide students with a stronger position in the mental health workforce, the program has since shifted to a Couples and Family Therapy graduate degree that is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Dr. McNair retired and was named a professor emeritus by the university in July of 2014, and was honored with an annual student counseling award that bears his name.  During his time at the university, Dr. McNair began a scholarship for a highly respected Disciples of Christ pastoral counselor in the Pacific Northwest region, Rev. Eugene Kidder. 

“Clinton touched a lot of lives in his time with us,” the dean of the school, Mark Markuly, said. “He had an infectious laugh and an abundance of joy, despite the heavy issues that are part of the day of any mental health professional. Clinton was also someone who was in constant motion with work, plans and activities, and continued this demanding schedule after retiring from the university and returning to North Carolina to move closer to his family.  Once back on the east coast, he immediately got involved in counseling, running two offices, and becoming involved in mental health issues in both North and South Carolina. Clinton’s passing will leave a big hole in the lives of many people, coast-to-coast.” 

Dr. McNair was born in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and had a bachelor degree in history, education and English at Virginia Union University, a maser of divinity degree in theology and pastoral care degree from Crozer Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in psychology and pastoral counseling degree from Northwestern University. He was a retired officer in the Army National Guard, where he had served as a chaplain.

Dr. McNair’s memorial service will occur at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 8, 2017, at Cedar Grove Baptist Church, 4449 NC Highway, 211 Westend, North Carolina, 27376. His younger brother, Rev. Pat McNair, who is the current pastor of the church, will officiate. Clinton McNair’s father, Rev. John Preston McNair, was a previous pastor of the community.

“After all these years, Dad is coming full circle (with his memorial service at Cedar Grove),” Martin McNair, Dr. Clinton McNair’s son, said. 

If you would like to honor Clinton McNair with support for the scholarship he began at the School of Theology and Ministry, please send your gift to The Reverend Eugene Kidder Pastoral Counseling Endowed Scholarship at Seattle University, 901 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA  98122.