Editor's note: The following is a tribute written to Marian McClellan by Carol Marshall-Clanton, former editor of the Lovelock Review-Miner.
By Carol Marshall-Clanton
Special to the Review-Miner
Marian Alice McClellan
March 31, 1941 - September 7, 2019
A piece of history was made when Marian Alice Wright McClellan, 78, the first woman elected as a Pershing County Commissioner, died Saturday September 7, 2019 at Renown Medical Center in Reno.
A celebration of life was Thursday, September 12, at New Life Fellowship (old Assembly of God Church), with burial immediately following the service at Big Meadow Cemetery along side of her husband J. W. (Mac) McClellan. Refreshments were provided by the St. Agnes Altar Society.
McClellan and her husband were owners of several small businesses, mining ventures and claims, a mobile home park and an assay laboratory in Upper Valley.
Marian was born March 31, 1941 in Cripple Creek, Colorado to Alice and F. M. Wright. She grew up in Colorado, Arizona, and Utah with her two brothers, Dan and Dale Wright. She graduated high school in Moab, Utah.
She married J.W. McClellan on November 3, 1967 in Coleman County, TX, Prior to coming to Lovelock, he was an U.S. Air Force pilot stationed near Frankfurt, Germany. Her family moved here in 1972.
Marian's father owned F. M. Wright Mining Company and the couple,and her brothers joined her parents in the business. She took a class at the University of Nevada Reno, on assaying to ensure miners would have good assays on their ore. She was an assayer for around 20 years.
In 1978 she became chairman of the Pershing Concerned Citizens (PCC). The group was organized by ranchers, miners and small business owners to protect their rights against U.S. government’s encroachment with wilderness area designations by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other government entities.
She testified at the Nevada Legislature hearings on BLM wilderness proposals and the need to keep Nevada lands open to all citizens. Only one area in Pershing County was designated as wilderness at that time. She held the chairmanship for more than 10 years.
Pershing County faced several economic changes in the early 1980’s and 1990’s.
Following the 1982 I-80 bypass of its county seat, Lovelock, economic development and government projects slowed down throughout the county.
One business that came in the mid 70s was the Southwest Gas Corporation. Commissioner Robert Maher negotiated with Southwest Gas officials to bring a plant located west of Lovelock to Pershing County after Dayton rejected it. Mining and ranching industries faced more BLM regulations as many small mining and ranching operations were swallowed up by larger corporations. Pershing County’s “Boom or Bust” economy was on a downward turn.
McClellan was an activist in the “Sagebrush Rebellion “ as she worked with members of the Nevada Miners and Prospectors a group of small independent miners to improve mining economic conditions. Later she was appointed as a member of NV Legislative Committee on Public Lands from 1985 - 1992.
Elected to the Pershing County Board of County Commissioners in November 1984, she began working with Commissioners Maher, Frank Rutherford and Roger Mancebo in January 1985 to improve economic conditions throughout the county.
As commissioner representative on the Pershing County Roads Department, she sought improvement on the roads in Grass Valley, Imlay, Cosgrave, Mill City as well as in Upper Valley and Lower Valley.
Serving as the commissioner and county representative to Imlay sewer and water system board McClellan and the board sought grant funding for a complete new sewer and water system. The project was done because of the health risks to the town’s residents who were pouring bleach down the lines to disinfect the pipes.
Other facilities like the fire departments in Imlay and Grass Valley were also updated.
She also represented the county on the Economic Development Authority which included the Tourism Board and the Community Center Board. The authority was able to convince the State officials to build the Lovelock state prison ( Lovelock Correctional Center facility), northeast of Lovelock.
Many prison construction and local county board meetings as well as other events filled the community center’s calendar.
The tourism board also sought to bring conventions to the county’s fairly new building. The Nevada Assn. of County commissioners agreed to hold their annual meeting after an invitation from the local board. While commissioner, she also served as a vice president of NACCO in 1992.
Marian was a member of Soroptimist International of Lovelock, a local business women’s organization for several years.
Among the survivors are her daughter, Megan McClellan of Upper Valley, Lovelock, her son, John Hill, and grandsons, Gregory Aaron McClellan pf Omaha, NE and Jay Sanford of Winnemucca.
Her service to the County was instrumental in keeping local businesses viable and strong. I, for one, will miss her and her ability to listen to her constituents.