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PASSAGES: Clinical social worker, educator Jason McVicker dies
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

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Jason McVicker, 54, died Oct. 13 of a heart attack.

University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration ( SSA ) Dean Neil Guterman relayed his death to colleagues.

At the time of his death, McVicker was a private clinical social worker/therapist at Lakeview Center for Psychotherapy and a visiting faculty member at the University of Chicago School of SSA, the Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC and Loyola University School of Social Work.

He previously served as the director of mental health services at the Center on Halsted, was a master practitioner instructor at the University of Chicago's School of SSA, a program supervisor at Chicago House and counseling program director at Blue Gargoyle Community Services.

McVicker was born Aug. 13, 1962 in New Orleans, Louisiana and graduated from Broadmoor Senior High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He received his bachelors degree in drama and communications from the University of New Orleans ( UNO ) in 1987.

He met his future husband Michael Worley 29 years ago when Worley was on vacation in New Orleans. They began a long-distance relationship almost immediately. McVicker later moved to Chicago to be with Worley full-time. Shortly thereafter, he received his MA in clinical social work from the University of Chicago ( 1994 ).

They were married this past Spring in Chicago.

McVicker is survived by his husband, his father Laddie McVicker and brothers Kevin and Shane.

He was preceded in death by his mother Dawn K. McVicker.

In addition to his work as a visiting faculty member and in private practice, McVicker also served as a clinical consultant for Test Positive Aware Network, Mercy Housing Lakefront and Juvenile Protective Association. His specialties were LGBT issues, HIV/AIDS, grief and loss, substance abuse and milieu therapy.

McVicker, along with five other authors, published "Integrating Prevention in Residential and Community Care Settings: A Multidimensional Program Evaluation" in the Guilford Press' AIDS Education and Prevention: An Interdisciplinary Journal in 2005 and participated on a panel, "The Art and Science of Teaching Direct Practice in Social Work," during the University of Chicago School of SSA Centennial Field Instructors' Event and Centennial Symposium in 2008.

McVicker's grandmother instilled a love of opera in him at a young age, and he carried that passion with him until his death. He took this passion a step further over 30 years ago when he became the lead stage manager of the New Orleans Opera.

"I interview Jason for a book I wrote about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina where I included a variety of Katrina experiences," said long-time friend Katheryn Krotzer Laborde. "Jason clearly represented people with roots in New Orleans who lived elsewhere but felt extreme loss. This was years after we met in the drama department at college. After graduation, we connected again when Jason came to town to visit with our fellow UNO drama classmates. When I visited Chicago in 2014, Jason asked my boyfriend and me to talk to one of his classes about our Hurricane Katrina experiences. Many of us have long felt very grateful to Jason for his thoughtfulness in gathering us together, year after year. Right now, so soon after his death, I can't help but see his face everywhere and I know in time that phenomenon will pass but what will stay with me is his spirit. He meant a lot to me and I learned a great deal from him."

"I met Jason in our college drama program and we clicked right away," said long-time friend Michael Gravois. "I remember that he was unapologetically himself at a time when being gay wasn't openly discussed. He expected people to accept him for who he was at all times. I wasn't out at the time and his openness was an inspiration for me to come out. He was the first person I told that I was gay and he helped me navigate the coming out process with my family and friends. Since then, we've kept in touch and visited each other in our respective cities a number of times. Jason was always a facilitator, helping people connect to life including the UNO group. We would meet annually for dinner, drinks and to share stories of our lives. A dozen of us are meeting on Saturday night to raise a glass and share stories of Jason. I'll miss him dearly."

"Jason was an amazing therapist, especially for members of the LGBTQ community," said colleague and friend Dr. Claudia Mosier. "One of his passions was training other therapists in the complexities of LGBTQ competent care. The professionals he trained are providing high quality care for the LGBTQ community across the country. He's helped many clients over his 20-year career and will be greatly missed."

"I'm so sad to hear of Jason's death," said McVicker's former Chicago House intern Eevie Smith. "He was a consummate professional and beautiful person who lived a life of service to fellow travelers. As a social worker and psychotherapist, he has touched the lives of countless people who found their way to his office in their darkest hours. He was patient, serious, forgiving and smart. He treated every person with respect and dignity, even when that was hard as hell.

"I had the tremendous good fortune to have Jason as my first clinical supervisor in 2004 when I was just picking myself up from a very difficult part of my life. I have this beautiful memory of sitting in his office—terrified, traumatized, totally unprepared to be anyone's therapist—and talking about how clinical theory was like stars in the dark for navigating or just casting the dimmest light as two people try to understand each other and get by. He pretended he knew what I was trying to say and helped me grow into a life that had seemed impossible. Jason is an inspiration to me as I teach the next generation of social workers at Syracuse University. When I think of Jason, I think of the stars. Peace to all of his friends and family."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following quote added after original posting.]

"Jason was a walking encyclopedia of opera, which he discovered at the age of eight," said Worley. "He could tell you the year of any major singer's debut at a certain opera house, recognize the singer in most audio recordings, and tell you the whole cast of most Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. Jason worked as stage manager at the New Orleans Opera and later traveled extensively to the great American and European opera houses. He wrote numerous opera reviews for Windy City Times, and most recently for an Italian online opera zine, GB Opera."

"Jason knew and loved opera with an interest and passion that impressed all who knew him," said Eric Weimer, assistant conductor at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. "He could cite casting and staging details of Lyric Opera productions going back to the '70s and '80s with a precision that was uncanny and enviable. I last saw Jason and Michael at the season opening performance of 'Das Rheingold' and his review of that production has already appeared on the GBOpera website. I'm brokenhearted that this is his last review."

A memorial service will take place sometime in November.

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