Brian N. McLaughlin

Brian N. McLaughlin

Brian McLaughlinBrian Nevius McLaughlin died gracefully from complications of Primary Progressive Aphasia and Vascular Dementia on July 11, 2023. He was at home in Takoma Park, MD with his wife, Donna Firer, and their two daughters, Katie Garber (Adam) and Amelia McLaughlin, at his side.

Brian was born in Washington, DC in 1943 and grew up in Garrett Park, MD. Brian graduated from Walter Johnson High School in 1961. A lifelong athlete, he gained brief and shining stardom as a Junior on the Varsity Basketball team. From 1965 to 1968, Brian served in the Peace Corps as a middle school teacher in Sarawak, Malaysia.

He completed a B.A. in Behavioral Research with High Honors at Yale University in 1965 and a Doctorate in Educational Psychology and Evaluation at the Catholic University of America (CUA) in 1980. Brian had a 25-year career at the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as an Education Specialist, Psychologist, and Computer Specialist (1970-1995).

He had a fulfilling second career at the intersection of education and technology, which included work at Green Acres School and PBS Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Child development was one of his intellectual and professional passions. When Katie and Amelia were young, Brian wrote of his “deep-in-the-bones feeling that daddyhood is my truest calling in life,” adding, “Young children are life spirit incarnate, when you muster the patience to appreciate it.”

Brian was an avid supporter of progressive causes. Notably, during the politically hot summer of 1964, he joined hundreds of college students who went to Mississippi to assist civil rights groups in registering African American voters.

Brian was known as a deviser of elaborate ruses and an inventor of games – and for his garrulousness (“How do you get this guy to be quiet?”). But more than that, he was known for his keen ability to create and energize community; he loved having fun with people and solving problems together.

In addition to his wife and daughters; Brian is survived by his sisters, Coille Hooven (Berkeley CA) and Karen Gallant (Frank), (Soquel CA); his two granddaughters Diana and Rhiannon, and numerous nieces, nephews and other extended family. He is preceded in death by his parents Donal McLaughlin, Jr. (2009) and Laura May Nevius McLaughlin (1998); and his brothers-in-law Peter Hooven (1991) and Peter Pfaelzer (2021).

People of all ages were drawn to his cheerful and playful essence. His kind and gentle spirit is hugely missed.

A memorial gathering, “The Life of Bri,” was held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring on September 30, 2023. Services were also livestreamed on ZOOM.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Brian’s memory may be made to: Carpe Diem Arts’ Daily Antidote of Song, Democracy Now! or WPFW 89.3 FM.