Family Says Claremore Lake Boater's Life Started, Ended With Water

Wednesday, March 19th 2014, 12:01 am
By: Tess Maune

We're learning more about a boating accident that killed a 19-year-old soldier on Claremore Lake. The Oklahoma Highway patrol said the driver of the boat reported hitting a tree stump in the middle of the lake, throwing him and Jonny McClure into the water and causing the boat to spin out of control.

The boat's driver was rescued, but Johnny didn't survive.

"As soon as they confirmed he was in the water and it had been a while, I knew. Even though nobody would tell me anything, I knew," Judy McClure said of learning her son had been involved in an accident while fishing with a longtime friend.

As a military parent, Judy said she was always prepared to get that unimaginable phone call, but she never expected it to come while Jonny was home on leave. He'd been in town less than week when the phone rang.

3/13/2014 Related Story: Rescue Crews Find Body Of Missing Claremore Lake Boater

To say Judy and her husband, Terry, were proud of their son, would be an understatement. One of their most gratifying moments was seeing Jonny for the first time in his Army Greens.

"We were very proud," Judy said.

Growing up in Claremore, Jonny spent most of his teenage years on the ornery side.

"There wasn't an obstacle that he let get in his way," said Judy.

His parents said Jonny was stubborn, and even a little sneaky. He started riding bulls around age 13; though his parents said he kept his 8-second love a secret for about two years.

"Until me and mom finally gave in and let him go and do it," said Jonny's dad Terry.

And while Jonny came off as tough, his mom said he had the kindest heart and was the most selfless person she's ever known.

"For Valentine's Day, he's never done this before, but he sent me flowers to work and it just said, ‘I thought you deserved to have a good day.' So, it was just his heart, he was always looking out for everyone else," Judy said.

Still, what his parents will remember most is Jonny's strong-will. It's that spirit, his parents' said, that led their son to the Army. He was a helicopter mechanic stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado. He enlisted straight out of high school nearly two years ago.

"He was doing what he loved, and he just loved life, so he just took, I think, every day as it came," Judy said.

But before the Army, and before the rodeo arena, Jonny's first love was being out on the lake.

"He loved the outdoors, he loved the water," said Jonny's mom.

That love for water came naturally. You see, Jonny was born in the middle of a major flood in July of 1994.

"I didn't think we'd make it to the hospital in time," Judy told us nearly 20 years ago.

That's the first time we met a then 17-year-old Judy, and her newborn baby boy, Jonny.

"The reason why we agreed to do this story is because we kind of felt like we were bringing his life full circle," Judy said through tear-filled eyes. "Because he started his life and you guys were there, and now you're here as he ends it."

A tragically poetic end for a life born amid a flood and taken in waters he loved so much.

"There is a peace about it because he was with his friend and he was home," Jonny's mom said. "And he was around water, which we knew he loved," added Terry.

Jonny's funeral is Thursday morning, the day he was supposed fly back to Colorado. It will be held at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Nazarene in Claremore. He'll be buried next to his grandpa in Tulsa's Rose Hill Cemetery.