Dr. Gary Phil McBride, 86, our cherished father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle, leader, and friend returned to the open arms of our Heavenly Father and loved ones on January 18, 2023, as a result of natural causes.
Gary was born on April 16, 1936, in Pima, Arizona, to Phil and Delsa McBride. He was the third child in a family of eight children.
Gary spent much of his childhood and teenage life in his beloved Pima, Arizona. His early days were spent working side by side on the farm with his father, brother, and family members. This began a love of working the land and moving dirt. He found his “forty acres” in every place he lived, reaping the rewards of gardens of all shapes and sizes. His grandchildren fondly remember Grandpa making work a game, enticing them to a round of picking up rocks, raking up leaves, helping in the garden, and riding in a wheelbarrow during their visits.
He attended Eastern Arizona Junior College where he was a student body officer and was active in sports. He enjoyed playing football and achieved All State status. It was here that he met Leisel Cluff. Much of their courtship was through letters as he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints in the Southern States Mission for two years. Upon his return he dated and finally convinced Leisel that he was the man for her, and they were married in the Mesa, Arizona Temple in 1958. She says that Gary was always her greatest support and love of her life and Gary would often say, “Do you know what your mother did?” This union produced 6 children. As children we never doubted our dad’s eternal love and devotion to our mother, as we heard and saw this throughout our lives.
Gary continued his studies at the University of Arizona where he received his Bachelor of Science degree. This would lead to additional educational achievements, later in life, receiving his master’s degree in Family Life and his PhD in Marriage and Family Counseling at Brigham Young University. He was blessed to have such incredible support, during these educational endeavors, from his beloved Leisel. Because of his example, his children and grandchildren always knew that education was very important to him.
Gary began his lifetime career with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ Church Education System (CES) by teaching his first Seminary class in Globe, Arizona. This career would lead him to teaching Seminary and Institute classes throughout states of Arizona, California, and Utah. He was the director of the institutes at EAJC, Santa Monica College, LDS Business College, Salt Lake Technical College, and UCLA. During his career teaching, he and Leisel had the opportunity to take a tour to Israel and the Holy Land. The highlight of his career came when he was asked to be one of the instructors for the BYU Semester Abroad in Israel program in 1983. After this experience, he and Leisel fell in love with the travel, and they took several tour groups to Israel, Egypt and European countries. They were eventually able to live in Israel for 3 years, as Gary was asked to be the Assistant Director of the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in Jerusalem, Israel, where he coordinated student travel. Because of this experience, Gary never missed the opportunity to bare his testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ, as he had actually walked where the Savior walked.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he has held many teaching and leadership positions. He has been a member of a stake presidency, bishop twice, high councilman three times and has held a variety of additional teaching and leadership positions. Gary devoted his life to the youth and young adults of the world. He believed in them and gave them every opportunity to learn and grow to become who God wanted them to be.
Gary did private counseling in parenting and husband and wife relationships throughout his life being a certified Marriage and Family Counselor in Arizona, California, and Utah. He is an author, writing the book, “A Gold Medal Family.”
Out of all the things Gary achieved, his greatest accomplishment came as a husband, father, and grandfather. He loved his family. As a family we will miss his laughter during our “Zilch” games, his newspaper wrapped Christmas gifts, his story telling, his ability to use every form of cereal in the cupboard for his cookies, his famous popcorn balls, and the endless fun activities he had for his grandchildren to keep them occupied before family dinners. We will miss getting our bag of Peanut M&M’s at Christmas time, his unusual nicknames, and his often heard rallying cry of “Te hesh na hey.”
Although we miss our Dad, Grandpa, and Great Grandpa, we are comforted to know of the great celebration and family gathering in heaven. He has now been reunited with three of his children who passed away, being the first to know if Sherry Lynn has curly hair, reunited with Darleis and planning their next heavenly cabin, and if David’s stature is over 6 feet tall.
Gary is survived by his wife, Leisel, son, Kenneth (Lynnette), son, Clarence (Lori), and daughter, Starleen (Paulo) Blaser, son-in-law, Karl (Kim) Nelson, his grandchildren: Shaline, Chylie, Stephen, Brandall, Sean, Brindyn, Dannion, Daniel, McKenzie, Jacob, Joshua, Austin, Madison, Megan, and Jackson and 10 great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his three children: Sherry Lynn, Darleis and David, his parents: Phil & Delsa McBride, and his siblings: Philis Bryce, Norma Natividad, and Leora Taylor.
Our family would like to thank the staff at the Jordan Valley Rehab Center, the staff at the Beehive House in Riverton, the nurses and staff of the Suncrest Hospice and the many doctors, nurses, family, and friends who cared for Gary during his last days.
Funeral services for Dr. McBride will be conducted Friday, January 27, 2023, at 2:00 p.m., at the Pima Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Bishop Jared Ray of the Pima First Ward. Concluding services will follow in the Pima Cemetery.
The family will receive friends Friday afternoon, January 27, 2023, from 1:00 p.m. until 1:45 p.m., at the Pima Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.