#23 Gordon M. “Sandy” MacLaren

Sandy was born in Newark, N.J., April 23, 1907, the son of James and Bertha Schaffer MacLaren.  Sandy joined Boy Scouts when Scouting was in its infancy and became a Tenderfoot at age 13 and worked his way up to the highest rank of Eagle Scout. “(Scouting) is my life. There was never a period I wasn’t in Scouts. It was and always has been my life” Sandy once said.

When Sandy moved to Elizabethtown, at 20, and discovered the townspeople had never heard of Scouting, he adopted the Scout’s can-do attitude and formed a troop in just a month.

He retired in 1967 as a Scoutmaster for the Newark Developmental Center, Troop No. 147, where he was Scoutmaster for 22 years.  While there, he saw mentally and physically disabled young men turn into productive scouts and took great pride in three of them attaining Eagle Scout status.

One of Sandy’s fondest memories is of Stanley Barnes, a deaf-mute patient at the developmental center who earned his Eagle Scout rank. “That was the biggest challenge I had. For lifesaving merit badge, he had to enter the water quietly, which was awfully hard to teach him,” Sandy recalled “But he actually taught me as much as I taught him.

Sandy Served as Chaplain at Camp Babcock-Hovey from 1981-1988. That’s when he started the fund that purchases the Bibles through freewill offerings from individuals, churches and even community organizations. Sandy made it possible for every camper at Camp Babcock-Hovey to receive a Bible while at camp.

At his death, he was the oldest living Scouter in the area with 79 years of scouting. He entered Boy Scouting in 1915 and had lived in Newark for over 40 years. He was a member of the Newark Chapter No. 117 of the Royal Arch Masons, and also of the Knights Templar; a member of the Friends Church of Farmington. Sandy left a wonderful Scouting legacy. He was honored with the District Award of Merit, the Silver Beaver, the St. George Emblem, Order of the Arrow Vigil Honor (Vigil Name – Short), Wood Badge Beads and eleven the Silver Cuckoo from the Japanese Scouting Association. One of Sandy’s dreams was fulfilled on his 70th birthday, when he went to Japan for a month and worked with handicapped Boy Scouts there.

Sandy once said “It’s the fond memories he holds of being a Scout that have driven him to volunteer for the organization for the last seven decades. I enjoyed it as a boy, and I felt like every other boy should have the privilege that I had.” The other reason for his dedication is simple: “It was fun!”

Sandy  died Sept. 17, 1994 at the Demay Living Center in Newark. When you read your Bible, say a prayer for Sandy MacLaren. Regardless of your religious beliefs, we’re sure Sandy is in a position to put in a good word for you. That’s the kind of guy he was.

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