Mom hugs me at my college graduation
Thanks to Amy for the polaroid
When she had me, she took a week of from work maternity leave. I've heard she was dictating memoes from the table where she lay in labour! Legends, I tell you.She was born in April, 1939, in the town of Inman, Nebraska population 35, to a pair of school teachers Warren and Delia McClurg. She had a sister five years older, Marilyn, and a younger brother, James.Born to schoolteachers in a town of 35 in rural Nebraska, Mom worked her way to Yale Law School at a time when there were seven women in a class of 400. In her law career, she had many firsts and accolades and I saw her argue before the Supreme Court of the United States. When she retired, she helped found a charter school for disadvantaged girls in Chicago to learn math and science and technology. She's supported me in all that I've done. My Mom got my brother and I our first computer, an Apple ][+ in 1981 (I was seven). She didn't just buy the computer though, she hired a geek to come over to our house on a regular basis and give us games and teach us BASIC programming and familiarize us with the technology. Later, she would buy us other computers and modems.
She enrolled my brother and me in some fantastic private schools and arranged unbelievable summer experiences to expand our minds. She dragged us around the world when we were pre-pubescent and tons of trouble. Fighting ten and fourteen year olds in the early morning markets of Morocco. I was able to repay her excellent trip planning and guidance just slightly when we travelled Japan together in 2002.
She was born of schoolteachers in Nebraska and while she was busy working hard she afforded us a fantastic education.
Joan and Justin
Then when all that education produced a dreadlocked itinerant web freeloader with a penchant for oversharing, she supported him and took pride in his efforts.
She started work when she was twelve, teaching piano, and playing organ for the local church. In high school, in Bassett Nebraska, she was a terrific student, awarded public speaker, involved in chorus and played clarinet in the school orchestra.
At Nebraska Weslyan College she majored in sociology. She won the Betty Crocker Homemaker award, a scholarship to spend her last semester at American University, in Washington. She remembers watching Kennedy's drizzling inauguration on the steps of the capitol.
She married college sweetheart Rod, a smart guy, unfortunate victim of polio, restricted to crutches. the two of them ended up at Yale Law school together. There she babysat for Senator John Danforth cuz "he had a lot more money than we did."
From there to Chicago, she went to work for Jenner & Block, a lawfirm where she was the second woman. There, she met my father, and the two of them took up together.
They gave birth to Colin in November 1970.
Growing up, I had some residual resentment. I saw her choosing her career over me. As I aged I came to appreciate the circumstances for learning and living she provided me.
She has been tremendously supportive. She had the insight to get our first computer. She didn't like my radio show. But, it was her rent subsidizing that allowed me to work full time for Wired for only $100 a week, for two months in the summer of '94. She enjoys watching me play in cyberspace, my write-ups are typically better now than they were in high school.
Now she's proud of me, but as she puts it, I "used to be very hard to be around." I guess I've got this anti-authoritarian streak. That really came to a head when she married George. My teen years were rough for our little family, but I aged into more pleasant compliance, even appreciation of my parents.
Things got much easier between us after I moved out of the house. We talk every few days, run over our lives, the projects we're working on, the things we're learning. A lot of checking in! And my Mother is able to demonstrate her love through endless newspaper clippings and referred articles. She's an excellent information-sharer.
She made light of like-speak (288k .aiff) on my voice mail.
She wears these marvelous wide brimmed hats.
She is quite powerful. In March of 1993, I watched her argue in front of the United States Supreme Court. I have a picture of her and Bill Clinton, she met him as a representative for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.
She has refused to let stale ideas of gender roles dictate her performance or expectations. She has excelled fantastically, generating respect from her peers.
Here's a list of some of her professional accomplishments:
In February 1996, she visited Swarthmore and I asked her to speak on the subject benefits and burdens of a woman having a career. She's gradually retiring from the law and she's working to establish a science and technology charter school in Chicago for middle and high school girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. After years of work with many talented people in Chicago, they've got the Young Women's Leadership Charter School of Chicago up and running. Go Mom!.
- The first woman to chair the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association.
- The first woman appointed to Jenner & Block's Executive Committee.
- The first woman to chair Jenner & Block's Hiring Committee.
- The first woman elected as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in Illinois.
- Recognized by American Lawyer Magazine in 2013 with a Lifetime Achievement Award.