Gary E. McLean Sr. passed away unexpectedly on his homestead on Sept. 5, 2013.
Gary was born in Puyallup, Wash., during the annual Daffodil Parade. One of six children, his father died when Gary was only 10 years old. This made it very personal and important to Gary that he maintain constant presence in the lives of his own children and grandchildren. He shared a wealth of great stories and adventures that will be passed on for generations.
One of Gary's brothers and a cousin of Barbara's introduced them on a blind date. He wasn't looking for a wife, but always told the children the minute he saw her that she would be his wife. And two months and nine days later, on March 29, 1973, they eloped to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, along with Barbara's sister, Margie, as a witness. And the adventures soon began.
They came to Alaska with a 13-month-old and a 1-month-old. They drove the rocky Alaska Highway in a Chevy Nova with a bassinet in the back seat and luggage, highchair and a nephew's dirt bike tied down in the trunk. Gary lived in Alaska for 38 years, also living in Juneau for a time.
Gary worked a variety of jobs before taking the family to the woods and homesteading along the Tanana River. He was at peace with the world there and it seems only fitting he died there.
Always proud of his homesteading and agricultural heritage, this staunch Scotch/Irishman began seriously growing produce for sale at the Tanana Valley Farmers Market. This after he was supposed to be retired from the Department of Corrections, retiring in 1999. Peas and carrots had to meet his expectations - or they didn't go to market.
Gary was a former United States Marine in Vietnam. The unwelcomed homecoming was a constant hurt. He wasn't an easy man to know, but he was well worth knowing, his handshake always firm.
His family always came first. He cherished his wife and indulged her "social season" at the farmers market. His buttons would pop at the great pride he had for his three children, Gary Jr., Brandy Lynn and Kyle. He instilled his ethic of hard work in each one. He was able to know all eight grandchildren and hoped for great things from them. He again shared his stories, recipe for "magic soup," and introduced the "Tickle Machine."
We will forever miss him but he lives on in each one of us. We hope we're deserving of the honor.
Gary is survived by his wife, Barbara, of Southbank Homestead; sons, Gary E. McLean Jr.; of Glendale, Ariz.; and Kyle M. McLean, of Fairbanks; daughter, Brandy Lynn McLean, of Delta Junction; grandchildren, Gary E. III, Samuel A. and Aila W. McLean, of Glendale, Ariz.; Morgen and Codey McLean, of Delta Junction; and Barbara R., Kyle Jr. and Charlybelle McLean, of Fairbanks; brother, Rory (Christine) McLean of Puyallup, Wash.; sister, Penny Lindell, of Anchorage; and three other brothers, of Washington state.
He was preceded in death by his father, Donald D. McLean, and mother, Daisy E. (Doyle) McLean, one nephew and a niece.
A funeral service will be at noon Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, at Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home. Private burial services will be held later that day in Delta Junction.
Arrangements were entrusted to Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home.