Reverend Herschel Herbert McClurkin Jr., 88, of Alma passed away Monday, March 20, 2017, at his home in Alma. He was born July 24, 1928, in Stephens. He was raised in Mulberry and graduated from MHS. Herschel received a bachelor of science in agriculture and master of science in animal husbandry from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and was a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He later received a master of divinity from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. Herschel served on active duty with the Air Force and then retired as a major from the Air Guard Reserves.

Early in his career, Herschel served as youth director at First UMC in Fort Smith and First UMC in Garland, Texas, while attending Perkins. On Aug. 13, 1967, he married Mardell Christello of Fort Smith. They would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this summer.

Through his 30 years in full-time ministry and 18 years of “post retirement part-time” ministry, Herschel served many appointments across the state of Arkansas including: Gentry/Springtown/Highfill, Wesley Russellville/London, Walnut Ridge/Alicia, Newport, Wynne/McElroy, district superintendent of the Conway District, Greenwood, Kibler UMCs and on staff at Fort Smith First UMC.

Herschel also had extensive training in United Methodist camping ministry where he was a member of the planning committee of Shoal Creek Camp and directed its first camp.

Herschel served on numerous boards and agencies. He was a member of the board of Arkansas Methodist Children’s Home, Philander Smith College and the University of Central Arkansas. He served as a member of the Arkansas Inter-Faith Conference, a conference representative to Perkins Alumni Council, a member of the Board of Directors Wesley Foundation at ATU and Arkansas State University, secretary of the Alma Community Outreach Center and on the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation board. He was chaplain of the Ligon Family and Kinsmen Association, a member of the Fort Smith Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow.

On Feb. 10, 2017, he and Mardell received the Fort Smith Exchange Club’s Book of Golden Deeds Award.

Herschel lived his life full of love for the church, his family, friends and the Razorbacks, joy for the Lord, peace through his gratitude in all circumstances, patience in his marriage, raising children, being a grandfather and father figure to so many, kindness to everyone he met, goodness in what he saw in others and through his keen sense of humor, faithfulness in his work, service for others and devotion to his family, gentleness in his pastoral care, ministry and how he handled difficult situations, and self-control in only eating one serving of ice cream a day.

He is survived by his wife, Mardell Christello McClurkin of Alma; his brother, John McClurkin of Mulberry; daughter, Alice Scheer and husband Dr. Blake Scheer of Little Rock; son, Trey McClurkin and wife Tammie of Conway; grandchildren Graham and Ella Scheer of Little Rock and Emma, Siah and Hayes McClurkin of Conway.

Funeral service were at the First United Methodist Church sanctuary in Fort Smith March 25 under the direction of Ocker Funeral Home of Alma. Visitation followed in the church Narthex and burial was at the Alma City Cemetery following visitation.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to Shoal Creek Methodist Camp, c/o Renee Henson, 1102 Northview Drive, Van Buren, AR, 72956 or any Methodist Church or Methodist organization of your choosing. The family would like to thank the many friends, family and Peachtree Hospice for their loving care.