John Washington McLean was born December 9, 1922 to Washington McLean, Jr. & Hortense Monlux McLean, in Los Angeles, CA. He was the second child born to this union after his sister Marian Hortense McLean was born in 1921.
Early in 1923, John’s family went down to Nacozari, Sonora, Mexico where his father worked for Phelps Dodge. John and his family spent 12 years there, where he learned to speak Spanish, and it would be some of the happiest times in his life. Their cook, named Jim, was Chinese and John said he never heard Jim speak Chinese, just Spanish!
During the depression, John’s family moved to Los Angeles, CA, then to Morenci, AZ. From Morenci, they moved to Globe, AZ, then down to Naco, AZ where John worked as an Oiler on the big engines at the Power Plant. His father was Supervisor there so John had to make a very good impression as a worker. The Power Plant supplied all the electricity for Bisbee, and the surrounding area.
John graduated from Bisbee High in 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on November 13, 1942. He was on a destroyer until it was blown up by a torpedo, and from then on John went to Submarines. While on subs, he ran the big engines as a 1st Class Motor Mac. The sub he was on had many encounters with the enemy, and they got the job done!
While still enlisted, he met and married June Kidd from Idaho on May 18, 1947 and a year after John joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he and June were married in the Salt Lake Temple. He was given and honorable discharge from the Navy Department on October 27, 1948 in San Diego, CA.
John and June moved to Tucson, AZ where John worked on airplanes at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. In 1952, their son, Gregory Lynn was born. They moved to Idaho Falls, ID where John worked for Firestone in the Missile Department for many years. He and June divorced and John transferred down to the Firestone Plant in Long Beach, CA. There he met and married, Hallie Jean Empey on December 1, 1957 and moved to Livermore, CA. John and Hallie had twin boys, Tony Martin & Bradey Foster McLean born June 21, 1959 in Torrence, CA.
In 1960, John, Hallie and the boys moved to Encinitas, CA. where John went to work for Gulf General Atomic. There he did experiments using radio-active material. He used manipulators to handle and work the experiments looking through 5′ thick glass that was layered with thin lead. This would keep the operator free from radio-activity.
John retired from Gulf General Atomic in 1985 and moved into the house he bought from his parents here in Safford. John held many callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Young Men’s Presidency in Tucson, Boy Scout Merit Badge Councilor, a great Home Teacher, Ward Clerk, Director of the Spanish Name Extraction Program in the Carlsbad, California Stake. He worked in the same program in the Safford 5th Ward and the 4th Ward. John worked in Family History and submitted many names to the Temple. He loved to deer hunt with his Dad, also camping, hiking, and loved the outdoors. He really enjoyed going up on Mt. Graham for the Wheeler Family Reunions.
John passed away peacefully on Monday April 25, 2016 at the golden age of 93 years, 4 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days.
He is survived by his son Tony (Hollie) McLean from Escondido, CA, Granddaughters, Stephanie McLean, Jenny Williams, Stacie McLean and 4 Great Grandchildren. Niece’s, Sandy (Ron) Loomis, Kathy (Matt) Fliss, Nephew’s, Robert (Amy) Phillips, Thomas Phillips and RJ Phillips.
John is preceded in death by his parents, Washington & Hortense McLean, and son Bradey Foster McLean.
A viewing for John will be held on Saturday, April 30, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. with the funeral service starting at 11:00 a.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Mt. Graham Chapel. Interment will follow in the Safford Cemetery.
Services are under the direction of McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel & Gila Valley Crematory. Online condolences may be extended at www.caldwellfuneralchapel.com.