2018 Beacon Award Winner
Michael W. McClure, has been a funeral director for over 40 years and owner of three funeral homes in Chester, IL and the surrounding county. His compassion for all in need is widely respected, but his love for children is known by everyone.
Mike has always had a heart for encouraging, entertaining and educating children. When he started the Chester Baskerville Society in 1988, he immediately started the scion, Cartwright’s Companions, as a vehicle to simultaneously expose the member’s children to the Sherlockian movement. The very next year (1989) he created “Holmes For The Holidays”, a five-issues-per-year journal chock full of games, puzzles, art and original stories, all devoted to enticing the youth (of all ages) into engaging in the Grand Sherlockian Game.
His journals boasted an international mailing list (over 1500 subscribers), and was seen on the A&E Biography episode “Sherlock Holmes” in 1995. It was partly due to his pioneering a “youth movement” that Tom Stix invested Mike into the Baker Street Irregulars in 1992.
Mike has continued to seek ways to keep Sherlock Holmes in front of the younger public. In 1992 he invited Eve Titus, the author of the “Basil of Baker Street” series, to stay in Chester for a week and help him lead programs in all of the schools in the region. He has been continually invited to speak to classes, libraries, and local civic groups. Mike has recently annotated “The Speckled Band” and added 18 new illustrations to the adventure (with a mind-set toward the first time reader), and in Spring of 2018, he donated 82 copies of HIS annotated volume to the 7th grade students of the Chester Public School.
The school administration included his research in their curriculum by teaching a class in April on this favored classic of Conan Doyle’s. Mike has been asked to repeat his pre-read and post-read discussions with each class in ensuing years. Thanks to Mike’s generosity and insight into how to fill a void, a new “annual” focus has now assured that the youth of Chester will continue to be exposed, and learn to love, the magic of the master detective.
Mike continues to expand his amazing project of annually erecting new granite statues to different characters from the Popeye cartoon series. Popeye’s creator, Elzie C. Segar, was born and raised in our hometown, and Mike began the ambitious Popeye & Friends Character Trail in 1996. He has selected, designed, and placed a new statue every year since its inception, and now the cast of characters represented stands at 22! Of course Mike has made the most of his opportunity to spread Sherlock through this campaign as well.
For years he has been able to place an inscription, design or outright representation of Sherlock before the public … which of course is populated by young fans. Mike has included a larger than life granite volume of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” on the statue of Cole Oyl (Olive’s father), and the best proof of his true passion is evidenced in the 2009 unveiling of Castor Oyl, completely decked out in Inverness, Deerstalker and Magnifying Glass!!! Visit www.baskervilleproductions.com/popeye-trail to see the series to date and view, what we believe to be, the only full size granite Sherlockian statue erected in the United States.
In 2018 Mike officially launched his website version of “Holmes For The Holidays”. Please visit www.baskervilleproductions.com/sherlock to see the fun he has started. There is a slideshow near the bottom of the page that gives you a tour through his years of accomplishments in bringing Holmes to all ages. His purpose again is to reach out to the children and introduce them to our special friend.
It is obviously impossible to calculate, the number of children that have been reached by Mike McClure. He is the embodiment of The Beacon Society mission. He continues to find new, exciting and permanently advocating ways to expose Sherlock Holmes to the next generations.