Keith McClelland served as church organist and choir director at the Church on the Cape from 1992 until his passing in 2002.

This talented, thoughtful, artistic and gentle man provided not just the music for our services but gave us thoughtful guidance in so many other areas.

As an instructor in the Kennebunkport School System, he was affectionately known as the 'Music Man' of the Kennebunks. There are many adults today who remember their childhood as students in Keiths bands and choruses.

Keith helped guide the purchase of our church's current digital/pipe organ, the acquisition of which has made possible the tremendous growth in our music program. So it is fitting to name this music foundation in his honor.

Keiths wife of 47 years, MaryLou, said of this foundation, Im sure hes smiling down on us now.

For those of you who didn't know Keith, the tribute below was published on our website following his death.


Members and Friends Remember Keith McClelland

(May, 2002) The loss of our Choir Director and Organist, Keith McClelland, has
hit all of us in ways we could not have anticipated. This talented, thoughtful, artistic
and gentle man provided not just the music for our services but gave us thoughtful guidance in so many other areas. We will miss forever the 'Music Man' of the Kennebunks.

Keith was born in Mandan, North Dakota. It was during his high school years
that he became the organist at the First Presbyterian Church in town.

He received a B.A. in Modern Languages in 1944 from Jamestown College in North Dakota. Between the years of 1944 and 1968, Keith was Head of the Music
Department at the Theater-Television Institute in New York City. He also played
the piano in Broadway shows, in night clubs, on television and on tours.

In 1972, he became Elder and Chairman of Public Worship at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. In 1972,
he received an M.A. in Music Education from New York University. Keith moved to Maine in 1972, teaching
music in Sanford Jr. High School (1972-1974). In 1974 he became Head of Elementary Music in the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport School System retiring in 1997. He is a former Citizen of the Year in the towns of Kennebunk-Kennebunkport. He passed away in May of 2002. His contribution to the music ministry of our church as well as
 his thoughtful analysis of church issues will be sorely missed.

Below are quotes from members of the congregation...their memories of Keith:

Keith made each of the choir members proud to be part of the Ministry of Music.  After each practice, Keith would close with a prayer.  The prayer was always spontaneous and from the heart.  I would always remember the music and his closing prayer on my drive home.  He always inspired me to do my best and always smile...Elaine Triplett

Over the years I have sung with many choir directors, and they all have approached the task in a different way.  Keith was unique in that it was the interpretation of the music that was so important.  Timing, diction, the notes were important, but interpretation was the key.  He had a way of making the music and words come alive, and as a result, I have never felt closer to the music.  Keith lived his whole life in harmony with God.   There were times he was a hard task master, I can still hear him say "I know you are better than this, you can do better", and, it seemed, we always did.  I'd like to think I am a better person for having known and worked with this marvelous person, I know I feel that way inside myself...Rich Parsons

When I think of Keith, the term gentleman and scholar comes to mind.  Our initial warm welcome by Keith and the members of his choir was the prime reason we felt we'd found our spiritual home at the Church on The Cape.  He was very accepting and helpful to those of us with a love of music and singing but with little formal training. 

We feel blessed to have known him for one short year and will miss him tremendously...Debbie Parsons

I am grateful to have been a part of Keith's church life, both at Church on the Cape and for a short time at the Presbyterian Church in Kennebunk. I worked with Keith on the music for a sermon I did once at both churches.  His suggestions were right on the mark and his anthem with the choir enhanced the sermon. Even more, I will miss Keith's wonderfully dry sense of humor. He came out with some of the funniest statements when I was least expecting it. He made me feel that my church work was very important and that I am a person to be valued.  He had a way of enhancing your self esteem. I will miss him greatly...Alice Bruton

I would like to say a few words about Keith and what he has meant to me over the years.  I first knew Keith when I was a little girl and my mother sang in the Arundel Yankee Belles under his direction.  They were a wonderful group of talented women who sang a capella barbershop music.  They gave great performances!  I have two photos of the whole group and Keith in their costumes... it brings back fond memories of the times I spent in the Kennebunk Town Hall listening to them sing.

My family attended South Church for many years, and Keith was the organist and choir director there.  I sang with the choir there, along with my mom, when I was a teenager, and I loved being a part of the group.  Keith made it fun, and I think that is where I developed a real love of singing.  I can't say that I had a lot of talent, but Keith made it truly enjoyable, and encouraged me in my efforts.

When I was married, we asked Keith to be our organist, even though he was no longer the organist at South Church.  He seemed delighted to be asked.  I don't recall ever having a meeting with him about music selection, we just trusted that he would play something wonderful.

My next memories of him are more recent.  When I returned to Kennebunkport with my family, I was delighted to learn that my girls would have Keith for a music teacher at Consolidated School.  He was wonderful to watch with the kids.  He always found a part for every child in the performances, especially the ones who might not speak up much, and he let the kids know that they were going to be great.  He had such a presence with the children.  They knew he had great expectations of them, but they were eager to please him.

He always seemed thrilled to see my daughters, and he made it a point to let me and my husband know we were doing a fine job of raising them.  He even told me that my parents, whom he knew well, and who have both passed away in the last 5 years, would have been so proud of my girls.

This meant more to me than I can say.   He took the time to write my girls letters thanking them for participating in the church services.

It seemed that Keith was forever taking the time to let others know how much he appreciated their effort, and my one great regret is that I didn't take the time to tell him how much he meant to me.  I will truly miss him, his enthusiasm, and his love for what he did.  I know he made a difference in so many people's lives, just as he made mine brighter for knowing him...Ann Hand

I first met Mr. McClelland in Kindergarten at Consolidated School.  I always truly enjoyed singing with him in music class; he always made it so fun. 

In the third grade, I started playing the recorder with Mr. McClelland. I marched in my first parade with him, leery of the grated bridge, but quickly was assured that I would not fall through (like I thought at the time). The following year, I started to play the clarinet and around Talent Show time, Mr. McClelland approached me about playing a solo. Being the shy little girl I was, he seemed to take an interest in me, and certainly played a role in my self esteem at that early age.

The next week, I was in Mr. McClelland's office watching him in awe as he wrote the notes to the song "Jada" on the music sheet like it was easy as cake.  He helped me right along to the Talent Show by staying after school so I could practice with him and guiding me along to the big day.  The talent show day came soon, and before I knew it I was standing up on stage playing the tunes to "Jada Jada Jing Jing Jing" But, of course to the side was Mr. McClelland accompanying my solo on the piano.  He was always on the side lines offering his support.

The fond memories I have of Mr. McClelland go beyond my Consolidated years.  He often stopped to say "Hi" when I saw him around town and in church, and always asked what I was up to next.  He always made sure I was involved in music and asked me what song I was currently working on.  After high school when he asked me if I continued with music (which had developed into playing the Bass Clarinet) I told him I had not continued in college.  He shrugged, and told me not to give up something as important as music.  That certainly lead me to wipe the dust off my instrument and start playing again.  This is a true example of the love of music he passed on to those he knew.

Mr. McClelland was very generous with his knowledge and took a genuine interest in children.  He was always filled with stories, laughter and wisdom.  I will certainly never forget him and the many times I sat in his music classes singing my heart out...Jinny Garland

I am one of Keith's nieces who had the benefit of growing up with him as a powerful influence throughout my life. The humor you all know was there for me and my siblings from the beginning and the large box of humorous postcards and stories sent over the years is just a small part of my memories of him. He frequently wrote funny songs for our family to sing on long car trips, my most favorite of which opened like this: "Oh I'm going to Seattle, to Seattle Wash, and I hope she washes while I'm there."

To grasp the reality of his passing is very difficult, but is made a bit softer after reading the recollections by his local church friends and knowing how intimately he touched all of you. My heart is with his family there and I know the service will make him proud to have been a part of your community. Wendy McClelland Gepner, Edmonds, Washington

It's only five years since we first met Keith and Mary Lou, but it seems so much longer. They became an important part of our lives as newcomers to Ward Road in Kennebunkport, the place we chose to retire. They are our neighbors and have taught us much about living here, and about living. We shall count as important times trips together to Bailey Island, by boat and by car. Lunched at Richard's restaurant in Brunswick, sharing stories of how much dining there reminded us of the German restaurants in New York City, close to the neighborhood they lived.

The McClellands were with us at retirement celebration in 1998 and our 35th anniversary party in July,2001 and many times in between. It wasn't very long until Keith and Mary Lou knew our daughter's names, where they were living and working, and they never stopped asking about them. They celebrated with us the joy of our first grandchild, Charles. Joan and I hold special a picture of Keith with Charlie in our home on Easter Sunday, 2002.

The encouragement from Keith week after week at choir rehearsal and on Sunday mornings got me (Jim) to do some things I'd never imagined. First a duet with Jim Rooney, then a part of a quartet with Shirley, Elaine and Jim, and in April, 2002, a solo part mixed in with choir anthem. Thank you, Keith.

We'd ride to church together most Sunday mornings. Keith always greeted me with the words, "So good to see you." I knew he meant it and it felt real good. Then a stop at Bradbury's for our NY Times and a conversation about last week's crossword puzzle.

His hugs to Joan, compliments abounding whenever we shared a meal, the friendly wave as he drove Ward Road toward his home are forever a part of our lives in Cape Porpoise. Our family, our church and this part of God's world are richer for the life given to us in Keith. Thanks be to God! Joan and Jim Lennon

Beyond the prodigious musical, artistic and verbal talents that Keith possessed and shared with us all throughout his lifetime, the intelligent, antic and sharp-yet-gentle sense of humor that graced his conversations with us all, what else made him so very special?

The way he wove his strong sense of virtues and values into his life, teaching, and interactions with others was unique.  And the way he gave his full attention and interest to whomever he was speaking made one feel worthy, and eager to do ones best, so as not to belie the expectation and trust he put in each of us.  His thoughtfulness, enthusiasm, and faith were extraordinary.  It was a rare privilege to have been in his presence...Sherry McClelland, So Paulo, Brazil

It's hard to add to the words that have been sent. They paint a portrait of the Uncle I knew and loved and that matches my memories. Modest, immensely talented, supportive, sharply humorous, patient, kind... true words but don't capture all that he was. He touched and influenced my life in so many ways and in reading these notes we see only the tip of the iceberg of others he influenced. What a legacy. Our memories of him will always be strong. (Stories my father told about Keith growing up are told to our children as if we had been there ourselves.) I was blessed to be a part of Keith's family...Terry Keith McClelland, Gig Harbor, WA


The Keith McClelland
Community Music Foundation
The Church
on the Cape
PO Box 2740
Kennebunkport, ME 04046