August 1, 1921 - February 23, 2015
Marvin McClam, who grew up in a large South Carolina farm family, served in the Navy during World War II, and climbed the ranks during a distinguished business career to become president of a vibrant agricultural company, died on Monday, Feb. 23. He was 93.
During a 30-year retirement, he divided his time between Raleigh, N.C., and his beach house at North Litchfield Beach, S.C. He was married almost 64 years to the former Ruth Ludlam, who predeceased him.
Mr. McClam was born Aug. 1, 1921, to the late Fredrick Brending McClam and Hattie Mae Lee McClam. He grew up in Lake City, S.C., the fifth of eight children. Much later in life, he recalled a lasting impression of childhood: No matter how dire the family’s circumstances, his father made sure the children kept busy, and he taught them that any work was worth doing well. Ever excelling in business, always moving in life, Mr. McClam was a living example of those lessons.
He graduated Clemson College in 1943 with a degree in agriculture, attended naval midshipman’s school at the University of Notre Dame, and was commissioned an ensign in the United States Navy. He was assigned to the Pacific Theater and was captain of a landing craft tank during the invasion of the Philippine island of Leyte in 1944.
Mr. McClam was honorably discharged as a lieutenant and spent two years teaching vocational agriculture in Chesterfield, S.C. The following year, Mr. McClam joined FCX as a trainee in its Bishopville, S.C., office. Over the next 36 years, he ascended steadily — first to manager of the Darlington office, then to a statewide distribution job, later to a series of companywide leadership positions, and finally, in 1973, to president and general manager, a position he held until his retirement 11 years later.
Along the way, he served on the boards of more than a dozen industry organizations and led two of them, the North Carolina Seedsmen’s Association and the Southern Seedsmen’s Association, as president. He was recognized by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture with an award for distinguished service in 1978, and by Clemson University as a distinguished alumnus in 1981.
He presided over impressive growth at FCX and engineered its merger with Central Carolina Farmers Inc. They were the two largest farm purchasing cooperatives in the Carolinas.
Mr. McClam retired in 1984 and split his time between Raleigh and North Litchfield Beach, where he and his wife made a second home and spent summers for most of three happy decades. He was at his happiest devouring books about American politics, taking daily 3 o’clock swims with his friends, and sitting on his porch swing, watching the world go by and waving at friends and strangers alike.
He is survived by three children, Dr. Tricia McClam (Dr. Bob Greer) of Knoxville, Tenn., Steve (Terry) McClam of Columbia, S.C., and Louis (Linda) McClam of Raleigh, N.C.; three grandchildren, Erin McClam of New York, Drew (Lori) McClam of Charleston, S.C., and Mark McClam of Raleigh, N.C.; and three great-grandchildren. He cherished his extended family, especially his nephew Freddie McClam.