Lockerbie Scholar Andrew McClune’s family, friends reflect 20 years after his death at SU

[The Daily Orange] Lockerbie Scholar Andrew McClune’s family, friends reflect 20 years after his death at SU

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Andrew McClune loved curling.

He established Syracuse University’s curling team in 2002 and in the same season told his teammates that the goal was to win a collegiate championship. They said he was a fierce competitor. The team, half of whom were new to the sport, later traveled to Minneapolis to compete against other collegiate teams, but McClune wasn’t there to see it.

McClune died in 2002 during his year as a Lockerbie Scholar after falling out of a window in Sadler Hall’s seventh floor. He was 18. 20 years later, those close to McClune still remember his friendliness and work ethic.

McClune had come to SU as one of two recipients of the Lockerbie Scholarship. After a bomb detonated Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scottland, killing 270 people — including 35 SU students — the university created the scholarship to recognize the victims of the attack. One scholar represents the 11 people who died on the ground in Lockerbie while the other now represents McClune.

“He was not just another student to us,” said Lawrence Mason Jr., a now-retired professor emeritus in the Newhouse School for Public Communications.

Before McClune came to SU, Mason Jr. met him in his hometown, where he and his children developed a relationship with him.

“I know all his brothers, his mother. I know his stepfather,” Mason Jr. said. “I’ve stayed at their house a number of times. He was more than the average student to my whole family.”

Jon Mason, Mason Jr.’s son, was also a freshman on the curling team in 2002, and quickly grew close with McClune.

“They were the nucleus that formed Syracuse University’s curling team,” Mason Jr. said.

The team won silver at the 2003 tournament in Minnesota even without McClune, who Mason Jr. said was their best player. Upon accepting their silver pins, the team requested an additional one to give to McClune’s mother, Deborah Scott. She still has the pin and keeps it in her cupboard.

Scott said stories from McClune’s curling teammates have helped her deal with her grief.

“(Andrew) was very competitive,” she said. “(He) just liked to win.”

Scott said McClune also had a great appreciation for the social aspect of curling. She often traveled up north and to Ireland for curling camps with him when he lived in Scotland.

McClune wasn’t an extrovert growing up, so he would bring magic sets and cards to the curling camps, Scott said. Performing was his way of breaking the ice with the other kids.

When she first met McClune over a video conference in 2002, then-Lockerbie program advisor Judy O’Rourke said he seemed reserved. He deferred questions to fellow 2002-03 Lockerbie Scholar, Ruth McNay, who was his good friend, and only communicated about the logistics of the program over email.

But when he first stepped on campus, O’Rourke met the “real Andrew.”

“(He wasn’t) shy or reserved — but always cheerful, always eager to discover new things to do or see,” she said during a speech at McClune’s memorial service in 2003. “He was smart, kind, talkative, and polite. And always — Andy wore that big, beautiful smile.”

Photo Courtesy Syracuse University Special Collections Research Center

McClune was also involved in SU’s ROTC program. Though he was an international student who had tuition, room and board all paid for, he joined because he wanted to join the Royal Air Force someday, Mason Jr. and Scott said.

“He thought it was important training for him, important discipline,” Mason Jr. said. “He wouldn’t waste his time, he’d be up early and experience everything.’”

Scott said McClune built a strong relationship with SU’s ROTC office during his time on campus. The ROTC Color Guard performed the “Presentation of Colors” during his memorial service.

Scott’s second time on SU’s campus was for the ceremony, which filled Hendricks Chapel with laughter and tears, according to an article from The Daily Orange. Her first was to bring McClune home to Scotland shortly after he died.

Chancellor Kent Syverud later invited Scott to SU in 2017. During the visit, Scott saw all the places that marked her son’s experiences while living in New York, such as the Carrier Dome, said Mason Jr.

“That trip was a bit overwhelming. I hadn’t expected it,” Scott said. “It was nice to see … the memorials done for Andrew.”

He was smart, kind, talkative, and polite. And always — Andy wore that big, beautiful smile.Judy O’Rourke, Lockerbie program advisor

Scott wrote in an email to The D.O. that she feels the motto “Carpe Diem,” or “seize the day,” best fits McClune. At the end of his speech at the Rose Laying Ceremony for SU’s 2002 Remembrance Week, McClune left the audience with a French quote.

“Leve ton visage vers le soliel et l’ombre sera derriere toi,” he said to the crowd, adding a quip about excusing his French. “Lift your face to the sun and the shadows will be behind you.”

SU has two memorials for McClune on campus. One, a stone in the Orange Grove, reads, “ANDREW J.K. MCCLUNE — OUR SON, OUR BROTHER, OUR FRIEND, OUR INSPIRATION — LOCKERBIE – SYRACUSE SCHOLARS 2002 — TREASURED MEMORIES.” The other is located in SU’s Tennity Ice Pavilion and celebrates him as a founder of the SU curling team.

“He’s remembered,” Scott said. “As a mother, that’s the one thing you don’t want — (your) child to be forgotten.”