Richard McLean

November 6, 1931May 7, 2011


Richard Cameron McLean died with his loving wife at his side at their home in Boulder, Colorado, on Saturday, May 7, 2011. He was 79.

Dick was born in Denver, Colorado, on November 6, 1931, to Leslie Robert McLean and Martha Alberta McLean. He attended Park Hill Elementary School, Smiley Junior High School, and East High School in Denver.

Dick received his B.A. from Stanford University in 1954. He returned to Colorado and began the study of law at the University of Colorado in Boulder and married Carolyn Lindseth, now Carolyn Bartos. One year later, he entered the U. S. Army as a second lieutenant. He was honorably discharged from the Army as a first lieutenant in 1956 and returned to Boulder to complete his legal education.

After receiving his J.D. from C.U. in 1958, Dick served as a law clerk in the United States Court of Appeals,10th Circuit, to Judge Jean S. Breitenstein, after which he went into private practice with the firm that became Sheldon, Bayer, McLean, and Glasman, P.C. His practice was heavily oriented toward civil litigation at both the trial court and appellate levels, with emphasis on products liability, professional liability, architectural and engineering litigation, insurance law, premises liability, municipal liability, and automobile liability. He authored the Colorado Ski Safety Act. He argued over 150 cases in the district courts of Colorado, the United States District Court, and the Superior Court of Los Angeles and presented more than 40 appeals before the Colorado Supreme Court, the Colorado Court of Appeals, the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

During his legal practice, Dick was a member of the American Bar Association, the Colorado Bar Association, the Denver Bar Association, and the Boulder Bar Association. He served as President of the Colorado Defense Lawyers in 1978-1979. He was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

From 1959 through 1979, Dick was an active member of the Boulder County Democratic Party. He served as its Chairman in 1955 and 1966. In 1970, he was elected to a seat on the Boulder City Council. He served as Mayor of Boulder from 1972 through 1973, during the period of protests in Boulder against the war in Viet Nam. He took responsibility for clearing protestors from the 28th Street Bridge when he received reports that people armed with rifles and shotguns were heading toward Boulder to confront the protestors.

As council member and mayor, he was Boulder's representative to the Denver Regional Council of Governments and the Urban Drainage District and member and chairman of the Boulder subcommittee of the U.S. Corps of Engineers Committee on Environmental Planning. In 1979-1980, he served as a member of Boulder's Open Space Board of Trustees. In 1980, Governor Richard Lamm selected Dick to serve as a judge on the Colorado District Court, 20th Judicial District. From 1981 through 1996, Dick presided over civil, criminal, domestic and juvenile cases. He retired in 1996, but continued to work as a senior judge and mediator for another two years. He was retained three times by popular vote.

During his tenure as a judge, Dick showed his deep interest in the welfare of child victims and children accused of violations of the law. He believed strongly that juvenile offenders could be rehabilitated. In 1995, he received the Annual Outstanding Service to Children Award from the Boulder Interdisciplinary Committee on Child Custody.

In 1998, Dick was elected to represent District O on the Regional Transportation District Board of Trustees. He was re-elected to the Board on 2002 and served until the end of his term in 2006. He served as treasurer of the Board.

In his private life, Dick was an amateur astronomer who built his own first telescope at the age of twelve and, over the years, upgraded his telescopes to greater levels of power and accuracy. He would go out every cloudless night, even when the weather required ski pants and parka, to view the skies. He traveled to Costa Rica and Romania to view solar eclipses. He was a voracious reader of scientific books and articles, ranging from Carl Sagan to Stephen Hawking, and of U.S. and world history.

Dick was a fearless skier, who loved Winter Park and celebrated each season by making at least one run down Outhouse. He enjoyed travel, camping, and bicycling. He hiked almost daily in Boulder's Open Space, until a weak heart rendered that impossible. In his last years, he took pleasure in his visits with his daughter and her family, and especially with grandson Greg and his dog Ellie.

Dick is survived by his wife, Edie Stevens; his daughter, Joan McLean Braun, her husband, David Braun, and his grandchildren, Gregory and Lindsay Braun of Boulder; his son and daughter-in-law, Scott McLean and Ginny Doers McLean of Evergeen; and Edie's family members, son James Stevens, daughter-in-law Esti Stevens, grandsons Matthew And Sean Stevens of Chula Vista, California; and son John Stevens, daughter-in-law Carla Stevens, and grandchildren Alex and Julia Stevens of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and his former wife and always friend Carolyn Lindseth McLean Bartos.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 18, 2011, at 4:00 p.m. in Grusin Hall, Imig Music Building, University of Colorado-Boulder. A reception in the rehearsal hall will follow the service. Donations in Dick's name may be made to the Nature Conservancy.

Please share thoughts, memories, and condolences at


Richard McLean

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted

Caroline Hoyt

May 25, 2011

Dick was a fine mayor, an excellent judge and a great RTD board member. He presided as mayor at that magic moment when Boulder transitioned from a backwater college town to an innovative amazing small city. I will always have the greatest respect for him.
My heart goes out to Edie and his family.

May 22, 2011

Dick was a fair-minded and good human being. Though he had faults and weaknesses like all of us he was a fine public servant who served the community well.
Chuck Howe

Monica Sheets

May 22, 2011

I am so sorry to hear of Dick's passing. Judge McLean was a great boss, mentor, and friend to me as I started out in the legal profession. I feel honored to have known him. He was such an honest, funny, caring, interesting and brillant man. My deepest sympathy to his whole family.