Laughlin Chalmers McLean Jr.
August 2, 1925 – May 20, 2020
Laughlin “Yank” Chalmers McLean, Jr. passed away peacefully on May 20, 2020 with Sammye, his wife of 70 years, at his side holding his hand. Yank was born August 2, 1925 in Pratt City, Alabama. He was proud to be a part of the greatest generation, enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps at age 17 so he could serve our country during World War II. Immediately after turning 18, Yank went to basic training in Texas with further training in Michigan. He entered active duty on November 17, 1944 based at Lavenham, England with the 487th Bombardment Group. Yank served as a navigator for combat missions over Germany and occupied France on the B-17 Flying Fortress “Bonnie Lassie.” Upon returning to the United States at the end of World War II, he attended Georgia Tech and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Yank worked for U.S. Steel in Fairfield, Alabama for 41 years and retired as Technical Director of Engineering. He was an active member of Southminster Presbyterian Church in Vestavia Hills and an avid golfer at Chace Lake Country Club for many years. In his retirement, Yank enjoyed gardening, carpentry, painting and woodworking as well as traveling with Sammye. He was known for sharing his many talents with his family, leaving them with beautiful pieces of handmade furniture and artwork. Yank was preceded in death by his 3 siblings. Yank leaves behind his wife, Sammye Sturdivant McLean; his daughter, Ann McLean-Muse and her husband Dan of Canton, MA; his son, Bob McLean and his wife Julie of Mountain Brook, AL; and his son John McLean and his wife Lyn of Brentwood, TN. Yank (Grandad) received so much joy from his grandchildren and their families. He leaves behind 12 grandchildren (Dan Muse, Jr. and his wife Maureen, Bob Muse, John Muse and his fiancé Bobbie Decker, Annie Muse Kearney and her husband Denny, Sam Muse, Will McLean, Robert McLean, Emily McLean, Mary Cameron McLean, Lauren McLean, Ryan McLean, and Matthew McLean) and 5 great-grandchildren (Fiona Muse, Niamh Muse, Kieran Muse, Honora Muse and Laven Kearney). Yank will be missed by his Hoover neighbors, cousins, nieces, and nephews. He wished to acknowledge a special thanks to Sid and Gayleen McLean who have been so supportive over the years. Lastly, he will be missed by his new friends at Kirkwood by the River where he has lived with Sammye for the past several years. Yank will receive interment at the Alabama National Cemetery honoring his military service to his country. Memorial services will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory by either mail: Dyslexia Education Fund, Hindman Settlement School, 56 Education Lane, P.O. Box 844, Hindman, KY 41822 or by website: hindman.org/donate/.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.johnsridoutselmwoodchapel.com for the McLean family.
Laughlin Chalmers McLean Jr.
May 29, 2020
Earlier today, I was part of the visitation service for Yank/Granddad. It has been a personally trying thing to lose Granddad, but hearing so many stories from so many people about how Granddad positively impacted their lives made me smile. It has been remarked upon that we were lucky to know him and be a part of the family he helped build with Gram/Sammye June, but I would argue that doesn't cover the half of it.
Imagine a dozen caring, conscientious grandchildren spread across a vast American continent (and sometimes across the Atlantic) equally sharing deep sadness at the loss of one person (and beyond that - 5 great-grandchildren). Throughout their moving individual eulogies, there consistently emerge multiple strong themes - curiosity, hard work, pride, and love.
The one I want to highlight and celebrate was how Granddad cared deeply about every single member of his family. Like Uncle John said today, Granddad was just there. He was there for Aunt Anne as she cheered. He was there for my brother and me as we played sports in high school. He was there for my sisters. He was there for every cousin in all their scholastic, athletic, and life accomplishments. He was so irrevocably and deeply proud of each of us. Every conversation I had with him over the last few years would end with, "Well, we're so proud of you" and if you gave him a few seconds he would invariably exclaim, " We're proud of all of you". I'm going to miss that.
If the world were more populated with Yank/Granddads, it would be a better place. But it isn't and Granddad is gone. The world is less for that, but it is so much more because he was here. Moving forward like he would have wanted, I hope only that Gram realizes how special the impact they together had upon our lives and how deeply ingrained in each of us the lasting memories and lessons of Granddad are. While he may be physically gone here and now, his spirit, character, and example will live on through all of us.