McLellan, William Howard
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was born December 1, 1924 in Casper, Wyoming and passed away September 30, 2011 in Pasadena. Bill grew up on his parents' farm in Orland, California. In May of 1941, at age 16, he joined the Canadian Army to see the world. He served as a radio tank operator in the Canadian Armoured Corps, and was posted to the Headquarters Company of the Three Rivers Regiment in England. While there, he fell in love with Patricia Price, a young British file clerk. Bill and Pat married in 1945, and the moved permanently to Pasadena one year later, where Bill attended Caltech. A pioneer in nanotechnology, Bill designed and built the world's smallest motor in response to a challenge issued by physicist Richard Feynman in 1959. He was awarded a cash prize, and was featured on an episode of the nationally-broadcast television show "I've Got a Secret" in 1961. Bill spent much of his life working as an engineer in the Astronomy Department at Caltech. He was a much-beloved member of the Caltech community, where he remained a consultant until the time of his death.
Bill was predeceased by his beloved wife, Patricia. He is survived by two daughters, Jill McLellan (John Tornow) of Seneca Castle, NY, and Judy McLellan of Pasadena; two grandchildren, Molly Tornow-Coffee (David) of Buffalo, Brett Tornow of Seneca Castle, NY; and his sister, Hattie Mary Hurchalla of Pagosa Springs, CO. He is mourned by his family, along with the many dear friends and neighbors who remember with love his spontaneous acts of kindness, the generosity with which he contributed time and engineering know-how to all manner of repair projects (from automobiles to children's toys), his curiosity about everything - and his comprehensive knowledge of the history and genealogy of Clan McLellan. His cremains will be interred at Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Contributions in Bill's memory can be made to Friends of the Palomar Observatory or to Eaton Canyon Nature Center Associates.
Published in Pasadena Star-News on Oct. 5, 2011