Family and friends of Steve McLachlin will gather in Ormond Beach next weekend to honor the memory of The News-Journal's longtime art director and cartoonist, who died in January. He was 82. He was 24 and just days out of Army uniform when then General Manager Tippen Davidson hired him in 1961 as the paper's first fulltime art director. He retired in 2000, after four decades of award-winning page designs, story illustrations and freewheeling cartoons. Most memorable were his elaborate full-page Christmas drawings, described by News-Journal Columnist Mark Lane as "riotously busy imaginings of a Santa Claus barely able to keep his reindeer under rein."
The celebration of McLachlin's life and work will begin with a memorial service at noon Saturday, June 15th in the Ormond Beach Memorial Gardens, 78 E. Granada Blvd., followed by a Scottish wake from 1 to 4 p.m. at Billy's Tap Room, 58 E. Granada. John Stephen McLachlin was born in New Jersey, grew up in Missouri and arrived in Florida as a teenager when his parents moved to Ormond by the Sea in the early 1950s. Harry McLachlin was regional manager for an insurance company; Lola McCully McLachlin was an artist and clothing designer who quickly saw the possibilities of a couture salon in downtown Ormond Beach and established one in rooms above the venerable Billy's Tap Room pub. "She was the only woman who could run a hat shop over a bar, call it Lola's Penthouse Studio and get away with it," McLachlin said of his mother. Lola McLachlin once said she realized her son was extraordinary when, at age 6, he began reading the family's encyclopedia set, finished the last volume and started over. He also began drawing pictures and writing stories in early childhood. In his Ormond Beach studio, McLachlin produced paintings that were big, bold and abstract, often with Native American themes. He blended wood, metal and ordinary objects into sculptures that appeared organic. He collected, restored and replicated antique firearms, specializing in Kentucky Longrifles. After retirement, he opened The Art of Restoration, a business devoted to restoring antique paintings and furniture, as well as weapons. In a Facebook post, McLachlin described himself as an expert in American antique firearms and Sub-Saharan tribal arts. "(I) do metal sculpture, love reading, music, cooking, photography, all things creative and expressive,' he wrote. Missing from the summary was his passion for fishing - and shrimping and lobstering - all of which he indulged at every opportunity in the company of his son, Andy, or his News-Journal boat buddies, Harold Clark and the late John Gallant. McLachlin's first marriage, in 1961, was to News-Journal reporter Mary Bailey. Their son died in a diving mishap in 1990 while he was a student at Florida State University. The marriage ended in 1993. In 1994, he married Donna Jordan, marketing director for the Seaside Music Theater. He and Jordan, also an artist, were active in arts organizations and in the Ormond Beach Unitarian Universalist Congregation over the next 20 years. Jordan died of cancer in 2015. Mark Lane wrote a special tribute to his friend and former colleague in a Jan. 17 column: "I'm going to miss hearing his stories and world-weary observations told in growly monotone over a beer or several. I was lucky to have worked with McLachlin, and longtime readers were lucky to have regularly picked up a newspaper where his whimsical, deadline-drawn creations leaped from the pages." McLachlin was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Marilee McLachlin Fallon; his son, Brian Andrew McLachlin; his wife, Donna Jordan; and a stepdaughter, Cricket Jordan.
Survivors include three nieces: Shari Fallon Epand and husband Don, Paradise Valley, AZ; Christina Fallon Chegri, Mesa, AZ; Cynthia Fallon Bebout and husband Daniel, Broaddus, TX; five great nieces and two great nephews; two great-great nieces and two great-great nephews; a stepdaughter, Shannon Jordan and husband Joseph LoBuglio, Carrboro, NC, and five stepgrandchildren. Other survivors include his first wife, Mary McLachlin,and husband William Anthony, Norman, OK.