Rev Claude Walton McBride

May 11, 1932August 23, 2013

The Rev. Claude McBride, a prominent member of the Athens community for more than half a century, passed away at his home in Athens Friday, August 23, 2013. He was 81. Survivors include his wife, Gayle Gordy McBride, Athens; son, Walt (Claude Jr.) and wife Lori, Gainesville; a daughter Wynter, Athens; and five grandchildren: Harrison, Claudia and Abigayle, Athens; and Susannah and Gracie, Gainesville. McBride was born May 11, 1932 in Columbus to Walter and Ivy McBride. Interment will be at New Hope Baptist Church in Louvale, GA, where Rev. McBride had his first pastorate. It is also the hometown of his wife, Gayle. A memorial service is planned for Sept. 22 at Milledge Avenue Baptist Church in Athens, where he was Pastor Emeritus. Although best known as pastor of Milledge Avenue Baptist Church for 20 years, and as chaplain of the Georgia football team, McBride was truly a “man for all seasons.” He began his career as a journalist, with the Columbus Ledger, in the city where he was born and grew up. During his years as a reporter he was one of four Ledger staff members covering the neighboring town of Phenix City, AL, where in 1954 the Alabama National Guard took over the town for nearly two years as corrupt officials were arrested and tried. McBride was the youngest member of the four-man team whose reporting on Phenix City helped The Ledger win the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Community Service. The Ledger is still the only Georgia newspaper to earn that most coveted Pulitzer. The celebration dinner was especially memorable for McBride, whose date was Gayle Gordy, an Auburn student who later became his wife. While working for the newspaper, McBride also pastored a small church in nearby Stewart County. He received a bachelor of divinity and master of theology degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and held pastorates in Henderson, KY, Jacksonville Beach, FL and Calhoun, GA before arriving in Athens in 1964 to take over Milledge Avenue Baptist Church. In his student days, he had been a member of the Redcoat Marching Band, and Men’s Glee Club and a varsity cheerleader for three years. Returning to Athens and his alma mater in 1964, he began a special outreach to student athletes and was soon asked to be the advisor to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. That role attracted the attention of football coach Vince Dooley who asked McBride to become the chaplain for the Georgia football team. “Chaplain McBride has many functions,” Dooley told a reporter. “They are not narrowly defined. We just play it by ear, and he uses his own imagination, which is quite creative. I don’t know of any school which involves a chaplain to the extent Georgia does.” McBride held that unofficial job for 40 years, and counseled some of the greatest Bulldog players, including Herschel Walker and other members of the 1980 National Championship team. He officiated at the marriage ceremonies for many players and a large number of players attended Milledge Avenue Baptist. His association with the university expanded in 1983 when he was asked to become associate director of Alumni Relations, which involved leading alumni tours throughout the world. He retired from his pastorate after 20 years, “but not from the ministry,” he said. McBride was also a prolific speaker and entertainer, appearing at hundreds of events as his alter ego “Happy Calhoun,” from Possum Gap. Dressed in tattered overalls with a smile exposing sporadic dental work, “Happy” related humorous stories, and usually left audiences laughing and inspired. Among his many affiliations, Rev. McBride was proud to be a member of the Athens Kiwanis Club, The Touchdown Club of Athens, Gridiron, Sphinx and Blue Key. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to Milledge Avenue Baptist Church Foundation, UGA Baptist Student Ministries, Habitat for Humanity, the UGA Foundation, or a charity of the donor’s choice. Online condolences may be offered at Bernstein Funeral Home and Cremation Service is in charge of arrangements.


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Rev Claude Walton McBride

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Edwin Blanchard

September 22, 2013

No two people meant as much to me while I was in Pharmacy School at the University of Georgia as Gayle and Claude McBride. Their home was always open to everyone, and I stayed with them several times until my room at a dorm was ready, etc. Their home was simply "my home away from home", Augusta, GA. I feel that I almost helped raise their two precious children. Gayle was so instrumental in helping our daughter be a Resident Assistant in McWhorter Hall, which sadly, is no more. I have known Claude since the 1950's as he was in college with my brother, and he visited our home several times. Claude could always make anyone feel better. Gayle, Connie and I share the void that you must feel just now, but our prayer is that our Lord will soon fill that void with wonderful memories.
Connie and Edwin Blanchard

William (Bill) Scarbrough

September 21, 2013

Dear McBride Family: Just a note to offer my sympathy upon Claude's death. When I serve as a minister at First Baptist Church, Jefferson, I got to know Claude and really appreciated his friendship. When I moved to Atlanta, our friendship continued and he spoke at my church on several occasions. I am very saddened at his passing, but most appreciative for his life and ministry. You are in our prayers.


William F. Scarbrough

kathryn channell

September 19, 2013

Rev McBride led revival at Greensboro FBC in the mid 1970's. those nights that he preached, the church was filled with the Glory of God through the Holy Spirit. I attended Expo '72 and encountered Rev McBride at one of the seminars. He was such a gracious, funny, humble man of God. I am thankful for his good work as a faithful servant of God. We will see him again.

jb rodriguez

September 10, 2013

"He [God] has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead." Acts 17:31

Lynn Nicholson Kinley

September 9, 2013

My thoughts and prayers go out to the McBride family. I have such great memories of Rev. McBride. I remember his smile and hearty laugh. Mrs. McBride was one of my favorite teachers: Earth Science, 8th grade at Clarke Junior High. May you find comfort in the number of lives that your family has positively impacted. God bless.

Cindy & Kent Kurtz

September 9, 2013

What can I say about the preacher that I grew up with, the family that I have known as long as I can remember? Mr. McBride married Kent and me. When I think of a church home, I think of Milledge Avenue Baptist and Mr. McBride.
We are so sad that he is gone but happy that he is with Christ.
I hope that Gayle and Walt and Wynn are buoyed by knowing that he was so loved.

Elizabeth Wells

September 2, 2013

My dear Gayle, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. You and Claude have touched so many lives with your love, humor, care and smiles, Were he here, I know my dad would join me in sending you love, light and many blessings. Elizabeth Wells

Tommy White

September 1, 2013

My God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow. Claude will be missed on earth as he brings a ray of sunlight to heaven.

Gregory Jerkins

September 1, 2013

I know his wife Miss Gail better than Rev Claude. She taught me 7th grade earth science. And she was a favorite of mine. I always knew how much she loved Rev Claude by how much she talked about him to the class. I send my love to the family. Gregory L. Jerkins, M,D.

Terry B Adamson

August 31, 2013

Claude and Gayle McBride were huge postive influences on many when at Belmont Baptist Church in Calhoun. I send my condolences to his family. He leaves many, many lasting friends,