Arthur McLean

Obituary of Arthur Douglas McLean

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Arthur Douglas McLean (Doug), age 89 of Los Gatos, California, passed away at his mountain home surrounded by his loving family on March 23, 2021.Doug was born in Adelaide, South Australia on February 16,1932 to Gwen and Eric McLean. He was the eldest of 4 children- Douglas, Marion, Jocelyn and Barbara. After graduating from the University of Western Australia in Perth, Western Australia, Doug came to the United States in 1953 to attend the University of Chicago in Illinois on full scholarship. There, he earned his PhD in what is now known as computational chemistry. Although Doug participated in seminal research, authored numerous papers, and had been cited in hundreds of articles, he would put, as one of the most fortuitous and momentous moments of his student life, his meeting Joyce Ellman, a Chicago native, whom he married in 1956. Through Doug’s work as a computational chemist our family met a lot of scientists/chemists over the years. It may not be noteworthy but we can say that on two separate occasions, Nobel Prize winning chemists were at the house visiting with Dad. Dad did not care about material things like new cars, fancy clothes, or appearances. One of his heroes was Albert Einstein and sometimes Dad’s hair would be just as wild. On a trip from Chicago to Florida with Mom (honeymoon?) they had to buy five new tires because the tires kept getting flats because Dad kept buying really cheap retreads. Fortunately for us, the marriage survived the trip. The two of them had a love affair that never ended. Bonded in their drive for knowledge, their passion for creating a fair and just world, their absolute delight in books, plays, music, and of course their six children, together they were a pillar of strength, courage, and love. They believed an individual should and could change the world, and they did- each a stalwart supporter of the other as science frontiers were pushed, wars were protested, and marches and vigils were held for social justice. Doug dug a fifty foot well by hand making the entire feat a family affair. He designed the winch that he was going to trust his life to by standing in the aisle of a hardware store for two and a half hours while looking at parts. When he came home to assemble the apparatus on the living room floor, he was pleased that every piece purchased was needed and used. There wasn’t one extra. His labor force was his young children, and it speaks greatly of his fatherhood that he trusted that they would not drop a bucket on his head, especially as day by day the buckets grew heavier as the soil got wetter and the height, they needed to be hoisted increased each day. The well served the family for over 30 years until it collapsed during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Doug saw no use in a garage when one could use the same space for a squash court. Yet again, using his own design, he built a complete four-walled squash court with swinging doors and markings to Australian code. Doug included his children in every step, welcoming all their efforts, even if it slowed the time table to completion. Doug was always there for his beloved Joyce, a devoted caretaker of all her physical needs until the end, but he was also there for his children. Wondrous backpacking trips into the high Sierras help with one’s homework no matter the hour, cooker of his “magic” toasted cheese sandwiches, walks on the beach, sharing stories while enjoying wine and sunsets. He lived a good and full life brilliantly and kindly spread his passion for life to the next generations. Doug is survived by his children Debra McLean (Greg Williams) Ken McLean (Mary Dang), Ruth Foster (Ken Foster) Rebecca McLean (Lou Scioccetti) and David McLean (Dawn Simpkin) as well as 11 grandchildren, and 7 great grand-children. He is also survived by his sisters Marion Hume and Barbara Bowyer as well as numerous Australian nieces and nephews He was predeceased by his wife Joyce McLean (2011) and son Kim McLean (2003).
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