Charles R. McClary was born April 8, 1897, in Orange County, one of the oldest of more than a dozen children born to John and Viola McClary. He served in World War I, moved to Alexandria and married Nora Toombs. On December 21, 1925, he joined the Alexandria Police Department.
Charlie McClary, one of the most popular officers on the force, was promoted to sergeant on June 1, 1928. He served in the traffic unit on a motorcycle. His younger brother, Clarence, also joined the department though the two would not serve together long.
On June 20, 1929, around 9:05 p.m., Sergeant McClary and Sergeant Edgar Sims were investigating a liquor complaint at a residence in the 500 block of North Patrick Street. Sergeant Sims was at the rear and Sergeant McClary was in front when he saw a man emerge from the dark alley. The man pulled a gun and fired repeatedly at the officer, striking him once in the neck. The gunman then fled.
Sergeant Sims ran to the stricken officer, who said, "They got me." Sergeant Sims put Sergeant McClary in a car and sped to Alexandria Hospital. They attempted to operate on him, but he was dead. His weapon still holstered, he never had a chance to defend himself.
The gunman was identified as William Kidd, who was also known as Kid Lilly and John Gaines. Kidd, 51, had been wanted for shooting a woman in Pittsylvania County, and Sergeant McClary had captured him three weeks earlier. But while being transported, Kidd escaped and returned to Alexandria, where he encountered Sergeant McClary and shot him. Nearly four years would pass before Kidd was captured and returned to Alexandria. On February 17, 1933, he pleaded guilty to killing Sergeant McClary and was sentenced to life in prison.
Sergeant McClary, 32, was survived by his wife Nora and their five children. He is buried at Bethel Cemetery in Alexandria.