At Prevent Child Abuse America, we often say that “we all have a role to play in creating great childhoods for all children.” Mike played a role in many ways, from being a mentor to children across the globe to becoming a major donor to youth-serving organizations. While we are eternally grateful for his generous contribution, we are far, far more grateful for his example.
Mike was born in rural north Georgia in 1954. As the seventh of eleven siblings, Mike was raised in a “spare the rod” community where abuse and bullying and were the norm. The “lessons” that Mike experienced as a child would certainly go on to shape his future, though not in the way they were intended.
Although he wasn’t able to afford the chance to go to college, Mike defined the idea of the self-made man. He left his hometown and found a job in manufacturing at Lockheed-Martin in Marietta, GA where he worked for thirty years, all the while continuing the love of learning that was so fundamental to his character. Thanks to books and his inborn intelligence, insight and curiosity, Mike was able to work his way up the ladder at Lockheed while wisely saving and investing.
The fruit of his labor was the opportunity to continue learning and to do so in new places around the world. During his travels, Mike began to care more deeply about the future generations of the places he would visit. From the Pacific Northwest to the urban centers of Cambodia, Mike learned that every country has problems that he believed he could help solve. While overseas, Mike learned to appreciate the need for resources to provide educational opportunities for children in developing and recovering societies. Similarly, due to his own experiences as a child, Mike also cared deeply about preventing abuse and neglect for other children.
When Mike passed away, he left behind no children or family. But he has undoubtedly left behind a legacy. The story of Michael McClesky is one of resilience, perseverance, and the power that one individual can have to shape the lives of others.
Mike’s gift will go towards programs and services – in Georgia, Oregon and beyond – that help prevent child abuse and neglect by creating communities where children can thrive. Mike will be memorialized not only at the National Office of Prevent Child Abuse America, but also in the hearts of all who learn about his story and seek to follow his example.
In gratitude and remembrance of Michael J. McClesky.