George Spruce McCain, known to all as Spruce, was a man of intellect, hard work, and faith. Surrounded by his wife Lucille Harris McCain and his children, he died peacefully on July 14th just before his 92nd birthday.
Born on August 11, 1928, Spruce was the youngest of four children born to Julia Margaret Riley and Herman Claude McCain. His two brothers Billy and Claude McCain, and his sister Margaret Ann Herndon, all of whom predeceased him, added a rich dimension to his life. As a boy growing up in Denmark, South Carolina, he spent his days after school and most summers delivering coal to the residents in his town. When he was not working, he was fishing at his family’s farm, playing golf with his parents, or sitting at the piano with his mother, a world-class musician.
Spruce was a child of the Edisto River. Summer vacation days were spent at the family’s river cottage jumping off the dock and idling on tubes as he and his friends claimed the river as their island home. Perhaps it was his friendship with the water that eventually led him to the Navy, but the discipline and hard work that were integral parts of his life best prepared him for his time in the service.
A scholar and star athlete in high school, he continued to use his gifts at the University of South Carolina where he was a four-year lettered swimmer and a first-year walk-on for the USC football team. President of his social fraternity, Kappa Alpha, Spruce mentored young men throughout his life. He was a member of the Honor Board and Honor Council and received the Blue Key Honor Society Award recognizing outstanding leadership and scholarship. He joined the Naval ROTC program and graduated with a double major in Naval Science and Business Administration.
Upon graduation in 1950, he married Kathryn Ann Rawl, was commissioned as a Naval Officer and was immediately deployed to the Mediterranean for service to our country during the Korean War. Onboard his first ship as a staff watch officer, his mission was to resupply the Danish weather station at Thule, Greenland, and the Canadian weather station at Alert in the Arctic. He recalled meeting the Inuit guide “Ootah” who had accompanied Robert Peary on his quest for the North Pole. During the war, he served on the flagship USS Columbia and the USS Cabot. Following the war, he served for many years in the Naval Reserve and retired as a Captain.
After returning from his deployment, Spruce joined his family’s firm in Denmark, the McCain Insurance Agency. In 1955, he moved his family to Columbia and became a well-respected professional in the insurance industry. In 1981, he established the McCain Financial Group, which is recognized as a leading financial services firm specializing in Investments and Benefits management for hospitals, professional groups, Employee and Executive Benefits, Retirement and Wealth Planning. Earning his CLU and ChFC, he was often the keynote speaker at conferences around the country on the latest innovations in integrated financial and benefits services. He was past President of the South Carolina Chapter of the Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, and he was several times selected as Man of the Year in the industry. He possessed absolute passion and commitment to his work and continued to advise clients until shortly before his death. His sharp mind enabled him to explain the most complex concepts in the simplest of terms.
Spruce was involved in the activities and interests of his children. When they were active in Town Theater, Spruce helped to Co-Found the Columbia Workshop Theater. During their early faith formation at Trenholm Road United Methodist Church which he helped build, he was involved teaching Sunday School for 25 years. Later, he was on the Board of the TRUMC Foundation. His love of music was instilled at an early age, and as a result, Spruce enjoyed singing in the church choir for over 50 years. As his daughters attended Mary Baldwin College, he became Vice-Chairman of the College Advisory Board, and when his son attended Washington & Lee, he was active there as well.
As a civic leader, he was a member of Richland Sertoma and Forest Lake Club, where he served as chairman of several committees. He was President of Caprician and of the Camellia Ball. He was a member of the Evening Music Club.
Spruce loved his three children and their spouses: Rick McCain and Cindi, Kathy McCain Lee and Richard, and Pam McCain Pearce and Bobby. He also loved his nine grandchildren (Sara Ann McCain Russo and Don; Richard McCain, Jr., and Ella; Matthew McCain and Jessica; Barrett Lee and Meredith; Lansing Lee; Richard Lee, Jr.; Robert Pearce III and Emily; Richard Pearce and Maggie; Kathryn Pearce Menzies and Harry) and four great-grandchildren (Barrett Lee, Jr., Lucy James Lee, Maddin Lee, and Richard Pearce, Jr.). His marriage to Lucy in 1991 brought her children into his life—a son Stephen Leitzsey, deceased, and a daughter Lynn Godman Long and Steve, along with two grandsons Tyler Godman and Wade Godman. Spruce cherished his long relationship with Lynn and her boys and the many special times they spent together in Colorado and on the Carolina Coast. Like a father and grandfather to them, he felt blessed to have them in his life. Spruce and Lucy loved those restful visits to the South Carolina coast. They particularly enjoyed their regular trips to far-flung destinations around the world.
Never lived a man so dedicated to his work, his country and to the people in life he loved. His enthusiastic and positive spirit and his faith have impacted lives far beyond the confines of his own. Love, self-sacrifice, and faith were the essence of his life, a man of God’s own making, a husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather who will never be forgotten.
A family Graveside service will be held at the Denmark Cemetery at 10 AM on Saturday, July 18th. We will live-stream this service on our Official Folk Funeral Home - Live Stream Facebook page. Due to the ongoing pandemic, a celebration of his life will be held in Columbia at a later time.
The family wishes to thank the nurses and physicians at Lexington Medical Center, Prisma, the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, and his personal physician J. Frank Martin. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Trenholm Road UMC Foundation–Music Committee, 3401 Trenholm Road, Columbia SC 29204 or to Bethel Park Methodist Church, 25 Beech Avenue, Denmark SC 29042.
Folk Funeral Home, Denmark, SC is assisting the family with arrangements. Please visit our on-line registry to leave a condolence for the family at www.folkfuneralhome.com.
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