- Fred McLean
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Memories of Fred McLean
Imperial Beach Councilman McLean dies at 73
By Janine Zúńiga Union-Tribune Staff Writer
4:31 p.m. May 26, 2009
Fred McLean -
IMPERIAL BEACH – Imperial Beach Councilman Fred McLean, who was recently re-elected to the City Council, died early Sunday. He was 73.
Mr. McLean, who was being treated for a rare type of cancer that had quickly spread to his liver, contracted pneumonia and died at San Diego Hospice, said his wife Dee McLean.
Mr. McLean privately told friends and council colleagues about the cancer but didn't speak publicly about it. He was diagnosed April 3. His treatment began April 9.
He had missed several council meetings since the diagnosis and while undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
Councilwoman Patricia McCoy called Mr. McLean a gentleman who was firm but polite and always deferred to others.
“He was a great friend,” McCoy said. “He loved the city absolutely and defended it wherever he felt he had to. He'd say it was the best place to live.”
Mr. McLean was the city's representative on the Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. He was on the council's Military Affairs subcommittee and the Otay River Watershed Management Plan policy committee. He also was active in the San Diego Association of Governments' Bayshore Bikeway Working Group.
In a recent letter to city officials and council members, Mr. McLean talked about his “inoperable, incurable cancer” that he said blindsided him because he had taken care of himself and thought he would live a long life.
“One day everything is wonderful, and the next day suddenly life plans and expectations change,” Mr. McLean wrote.
The letter credits his San Diego Tennis & Racquet Club friends, many of whom are doctors, for urging him to get tested immediately after he described his symptoms.
“There is no early detection test for this type of cancer,” the letter read. “I am fortunate that my friend diagnosed the jaundice and got me into treatment quickly.”
An avid tennis player and bicyclist, Mr. McLean could be seen riding his blue bike around town. He would ride to the Ye Olde Plank, a historic tavern on the beach, in the mornings to have coffee because the place was quiet then, his wife said.
“He'd go over there so often that people started calling that his office,” Dee McLean said.
Mr. McLean was born in Chula Vista and graduated from Chula Vista High School and San Diego State University. After high school and for 12 summers, Mr. McLean was a lifeguard at Silver Strand State Beach. Before teaching for 32 years at Chula Vista High, Mr. McLean served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
His wife said Mr. McLean always stressed to his students the importance of serving their community, and he saw his time on the council as his duty.
After retiring as a teacher, Mr. McLean was a literacy volunteer at several local elementary schools. In 2004, he was elected to the City Council. He was re-elected in 2008.
Besides his wife of 44 years, Mr. McLean also is survived by two children, Kurt McLean of Imperial Beach and Margaret of San Diego; a sister, Sheryl Wiltgen of Chula Vista; a brother, Kirby of Clifton, Texas; and five grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the city for a skate park.
Because Mr. Mclean's term expires in 2012, the City Council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss how to fill the seat.
The council may appoint someone to fill the remaining term or until a special election can be held in November. The seat also may be left vacant through the term or until a November special election. The city must make a decision within 30 days.
The meeting will be held at City Hall, 825 Imperial Beach Blvd.
My brother and I had Mr. McLean for Mexican History at Chula Vista High School back in 1979-1980. I remember him as a kind, interesting and interested man. I am sure he will be greatly missed.
I had Mr. McLean in my junior year (1993). He stood out to me as only a few teachers have. I am very sorry and saddened to hear of his passing.
I was in Mr.McLean's US Government class in 1979. He was one of the teachers that made an impression in my life, and know he'll be remembered by many of his former students. I'll remember him in my prayers as well as his family. May he rest in peace.
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