For nearly 20 years, Lois M. McClurg, LCSW, LMSW served as an impactful and compassionate clinical social worker at Henry Ford Allegiance Hospice Home in Jackson, Michigan, where she specialized in grief counseling and worked to help as many patients as possible. After accruing experience as a consumer energy contractor for Motorola in the late 1980s and early 90s, and building a career as a real estate office manager for Red Carpet Keim Santi Realty, overseeing than 30 agents for more than a decade, she began shifting gears upon being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. She saw firsthand how medically-minded treatment was and felt compelled to work with cancer patients herself, changing how people going through the illness were treated by providing hope, serving as a good listener, and overall maintaining their humanity. In the midst of her treatments, she pursued an education in social work at Jackson Community College and ultimately earned an associate’s degree in 2001. She was subsequently recognized by Michigan legislators for her academic achievements and began volunteering for hospice—and discovered it’s where her heart belonged.
Ms. McClurg attained a bachelor’s degree in social work from Spring Arbor University, graduating magna cum laude in 2003, at which point she was hired at what was then known as Hospice of Jackson and Oaklawn. She has found it incredibly rewarding to be there for people in their time of need, bring smiles to so many faces, and provide them with the best quality of life she can. In these early years of her career as a social worker, she also lent her natural expertise to assisted living facilities and mentored college students with an eye toward the medical field about hospice. In 2005, she worked four days a week, 10 hours each day, at the hospice and two days a week, 10 hours each day, at Duane L. Waters Hospital within the Michigan State Prison, all while attending classes three nights a week at Michigan State University in order to be more qualified to handle patients who were confronting death. She was part of a newly designed program for advanced standing students—within 17 months, she was equipped with a Master of Social Work in clinical and medical work. In addition to counseling patients, she founded a monthly social work group—facilitating meetings with her peers and familiarizing herself with resources across the community—regularly engages with veterans and widows to help them through any issues they have, and has volunteered at hospice memorial dinners and fundraisers.
Up until her retirement from the hospice in 2022, Ms. McClurg served thousands of patients and family members. Toward the end of her time there, she grappled with her own loss as her husband of 24 years, Ronald Earl, passed away following an illness. She attributes much of her success to her husband, an incredible supporter who gave her the confidence and encouragement to achieve her goals. She decided to separate from the Henry Ford Health System to focus on other avenues. Additionally, she remains connected as a member of the National Association of Social Workers.
A mother of four and grandmother to five, with five step-grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, Ms. McClurg hopes to be remembered as a strong encourager of others and someone who loved to help people. As a late-in-life student who took it upon herself to change her career, she advised to any and all young professionals, “Never give up. You could do anything you want to do, if you put your mind to doing it.” She looks forward to the next chapter of her life.