Remembering Lewis “Sandy” McLean

June 22, 2022

Lewis “Sandy” McLean 1935-2021

Sandy McLean was born and raised in Los Angeles. He was a twin, in fact – five minutes older than his brother William McLean. Sandy attended Los Angeles High School and USC – a classic Angeleno. He left his hometown to serve in the army and then moved to the upper Midwest to study dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Though he decided not to practice dentistry, he found his passion putting his scientific background to work, in a career in pharmaceuticals, with the corporation that is now Bristol Meyers Squibb. In Sandy’s expansive personal life, he was a swimmer, a tennis player, a bike rider, a camper, a USC football fan, a reader, a theatre fan, a traveler and an opera lover, who was, his wife wrote, “ always on the move.”

Sandy’s wife, our Fluff McLean, joined The Ebell in 1994 and Sandy, like so many other spouses and partners of Ebell members, became, for all practical purposes, a member of The Ebell too, attending events and becoming a familiar and welcome presence, with his infectious smile and buoyant good nature.

Sandy was also a member of the Wilshire Rotary Club for many years and served that organization as president. In their life together, Fluff and Sandy had, for 20 years, mentored teenagers in their home, teaching them life skills and helping prepare them for a brighter future.

In 2004, Fluff became the 56th president of The Ebell, bringing impressive organizational and social skills to her office, but that same year brought a significant health crisis to Fluff herself and then another to Sandy, who contracted a severe case of encephalitis, which deeply impacted the rest of their lives. The courage and ingenuity with which they faced these challenges was a testament to their devotion to each other, their strength of character and their optimistic temperament. In spite of those daunting obstacles, Fluff never faltered in her presidency or her commitment to The Ebell, and Sandy never faltered in his willingness to be by her side, through her Ebell presidency and far beyond.

Dennee Frey, Ebell member shared this memory of Sandy McLean:

“Sandy was the friendliest, most likable of “first husbands”. He always had a big smile and an enthusiastic hello. At a Paramount screening of a film about fostering children, we had lunch with Fluff and Sandy and learned how many children they had fostered over the years. They were an exceptionally close team, especially for the Hancock Park Historical Society.

Loyce Braun, former Ebell president shared this description of a recent conversation with Fluff about Sandy:

“When I called Fluff to ask if we could talk about Sandy at the Legacy Tea, I told her how sorry I was that I had not known that he had passed away until months afterwards and so hadn’t offered my sympathy in a timely fashion. Fluff was very understanding and talked a little bit about Sandy and used a phrase that might have been startling to someone else, ‘He was a weed’, she said.

“But I knew exactly what she meant and it moved me deeply. In 2006, in her April President’s message, Fluff had written about spring gardens and all the hard work they required and about annual and perennial flowers and then had come down firmly on the side of… the weeds. I was so taken with this novel idea that a few years later in my April Presidential message I referred to her earlier essay myself, so her surprising take on cultivated versus wild plants stayed firmly with me.

‘This is what Fluff wrote about garden plants and weeds: ‘I like those the best that are like the weed. They are inspiring, unpredictable, creative and adaptable. You never know where you will find them as they tend to mix well with other plants, surviving in almost any environment. They are to be admired, for they seem happy as they struggle to survive. Yes. I like that which grows wild. Weeds. They have my respect.’

“Now, that is a tribute to Sandy to remember.”