Lois Howe Ricker McClure
1940 to Today
Dedicated philanthropist, who has contributed generously to Vermont foundations such as ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center and the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge in Burlington. Served as the main benefactor of the Lois McClure schooner, a reproduction of an 1862-era canal sailing schooner.
Date of Birth1926
Lois McClure was born in 1926, grew up on South Prospect Street in Burlington and was a 1944 graduate of Burlington High School. Burlington. As a child, she spent summers at Cedar Beach in Charlotte, and took many rides on the S. S. Ticonderoga. Her daughters rode the Ticonderoga on its last trip to Shelburne Bay. She attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 1954, McClure married James Warren McClure, an owner and publisher of the Burlington Free Press, and later a major stockholder and Vice President of the Gannett Company, Inc. In 1971, the McClures left Burlington for Rochester, New York, where Lois McClure continued her education. In 1978, after J. Warren McClure retired, they moved to Key Largo, Florida, spending summers in Charlotte, until they returned to Vermont in 2002.
In the 1970s, the McClures began to make significant financial contributions to organizations in the Burlington area and elsewhere, and were instrumental in establishing the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Saint Michael's College in 1973. After her husband became ill in the 1990s, Lois McClure took on the leadership role in their philanthropy, a role she has continued since her husband's death in 2004. McClure's focus has been on improving community life for residents of Chittenden County, as well as preservation and educational projects with an emphasis on the history and health of Lake Champlain. McClure has given to Vermont organizations such as the Burlington Community Land Trust, the Vermont Community Foundation, the Vermont Museum and Gallery Alliance and the Lund Family Center. Thanks to a grant to the Shelburne Museum, Vermont residents pay a half-price admission when they visit the Museum. In 2005, she established the J. Warren and Lois McClure Journalism Scholarship at Saint Michaels College. McClure serves as an Honorary Trustee for the Flynn Center of Performing Arts and was presented with the Visiting Nurse Association's (VNA) Richard H. Wadhams Award, their highest honor, in 2007. The award recognizes individuals "who generously provide outstanding support to VNA programs and participate in efforts to increase public awareness of home care and related services to the community."
The McClures were major donors to the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center on Burlington's waterfront, donating $2.5 million to found ECHO in 2003. In 2008, Lois McClure donated an additional $1 million as an endowment, and has also served on the ECHO board. McClure's enthusiasm for educational resources on Burlington's waterfront stems in part from her experience growing up near Lake Champlain, at a time when the city waterfront was dominated by commercial activity, highly polluted, and inaccessible to the public.
To promote Lake Champlain's cultural as well as natural history, the McClures were also donors to the restoration of the S.S. Ticonderoga, now a National Historic Landmark at the Shelburne Museum. In 2004, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum launched its schooner Lois McClure, a full-scale replica of an 1862-class sailing canal boat. The schooner was named in McClure's honor for her major contribution to the schooner construction and support of many other community projects. A replica of the sailing canal boats that commonly traversed Lake Champlain in the nineteenth century, it was created after the LCMM studied two shipwrecks in Burlington Harbor. In 2005, the schooner embarked on a "Grand Journey" from Lake Champlain to Manhattan, hosting over 22,000 visitors along her trip.
With Cedar Point neighbor Bee Tabakin, McClure was the primary donor to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, Lois McClure-Bee Tabakin building at Fletcher Allen Health Care. Both women's lives have been significantly impacted by cancer - Lois McClure's daughter Judy died at the age of nine in 1961, and Bee's daughter, Ruth Ann, died from lung cancer in 1990. In addition, Bee has survived two rounds with breast cancer, and Lois’s late husband was diagnosed with lymphoma and melanoma. The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, Lois McClure - Bee Tabakin Building provides a home away from home for patients undergoing active outpatient treatment for cancer.
Lois McClure has also been a supporter of the Vermont Historical Society, the Burlington Committee on Temporary Shelter, the Burlington Community Land Trust, the McClure Multigenerational Center in Burlington’s Old North End, and a Center on Aging at the University of Vermont, among many other projects and key community resources and organizations. In 2009, McClure was recognized as part of Vermont's Champlain Quadricentennial celebration.
Organizations or Movements
- Foundation Board at Fletcher Allen Health Care
- Burlington Community Land Trust
- Vermont Community Foundation
- American Cancer Society
- Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties
- Vermont Museum and Gallery Alliance
- Shelburne Museum
- Honorary Trustee for the Flynn Center of Performing Arts
- Lund Family Center