Dover obstetrician Dr. James B. McClements dies at 88

Jim McClements

James B. McClements

DOVER — After nearly 60 years in Dover and a busy 35-year career in obstetrics, Dr. James B. McClements died Monday.

The Pittsburgh-native moved to Dover after being recruited by Dr. John Kreiger, the only gynecologist in southern Delaware in the late 1950s.

The ’50s ushered in a era of medicine when the first specialists were emerging. Prior to that time, almost all doctors were general practitioners who handled anything from common colds to surgery.

“For many of the older doctors, it was difficult to see a change of guard like that and they made it difficult for a lot of young specialists to even get a license,” son Bill McClements of Lexington, Massachusetts said.

But once Dr. McClements was licensed, his practice was the only game in town and he worked all week and traded on-call days with Dr. Kreiger.

“We estimate he delivered about 7,500 babies during his career with the majority being in the first few years of moving here,” Mr. McClements said. “There’s a whole generation who was either delivered by Dr. McClements or knew someone who was.”

The McClements kids, all five of them, agreed that people recognized their names as belonging to the well-known physician.

“I’d say my name or put by credit card down and people would ask if I belonged to him,” son Walter McClements of Durham, North Carolina, said. “Obviously, women remember who their OB/GYN was and a lot of people know the name of the doctor who delivered them.”

Dr. McClements’ legacy in obstetrics includes the modern age of maternity care at Kent General Hospital and the founding of the Dedicated to Women medical practice.

While that first generation of McClements-delivered babies was just in elementary school and his own kids were slightly older, Dr. McClements served as president of the Capital School Board for one four-year term.

“All of us went to Capital so he was passionate about our educations and the educations of all the kids in our community,” son Walter McClements said.

“He was never someone to brag about anything,” son, Jim, now of Boulder, Colorado, said. “He was passionate about things but he was always quiet about them. But of course, he was proud.”

Although Dr. McClements remained serious about his profession and public service, his sons said he was a light-hearted guy who had a passion for nature and a great sense of humor, always incorporating his Irish wit into conversation.

After retirement, Dr. McClements  had time on his hands to dive into his love of nature with gardening, bird watching and photography.

In 2003 he donated a 60-acre parcel of land to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources to help preserve an important local woods and wetlands now known as the Anne McClements Woodland of the Fork Branch Nature Preserve, in honor of his first wife who passed away in 2003.

“He really loved that parcel of land,” Jim McClements said. “We had all spent a lot of time out there and he had done a lot of development, especially in west Dover but he thought this parcel should be preserved.”

Dr. McClements also was very involved in gardening, a hobby he enjoyed with Anne. The two planted a wildflower garden their children said was a must-see for gardeners all over.

A memorial service will be held at Torbert Funeral Home at 1145 E. Lebanon Road in Dover at 11 a.m. Saturday, with visitation from 10 to 11 a.m.

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