Andrew Quincy McLean, Jr

Jun 19, 1932 – Sep 13, 2018

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Obituary

Andrew Q. McLean, Jr., a 50+ year resident of Huntsville, Alabama, passed away of natural causes on September 13, 2018.  He was at the home of his son, Gary, in the Seattle area, where he was able to enjoy the company of all three of his beloved children during his final days.  He was truly a humble hero to all who came to know him.  Every child or pet always treasured his calm demeanor and reassuring tone.  He led a life full of memorable experiences with his family and friends, and could always be counted on for his warm, quiet presence that would often include a wry observation or phrase that could break up a serious moment at any occasion.  Indeed.  Some related to cows, flat rocks and rain; another spoke to the utility of physical features on swine. 

Andy was born in Atlanta, on June 19, 1932, the son of Andrew Quincy McLean, Sr. and Linnie Eppie Mullis-McLean, who were both raised on farmland in the Alma and Vidalia, Georgia area, where he visited often as a child.  His Father worked for decades as a Foreman with the U.S. Railway Mail Service, which required him to be away for weeks at a time on railroad journeys throughout Georgia and points beyond.  That is how Andy developed his deep passion for trains of all kinds, first manifested in the “wallpaper” he pasted on the walls of his bedroom in their family home in Smyrna – comprised of magazine photos of trains and railroad workers at destinations and venues throughout the USA – if he couldn’t travel with his dad, then he wanted to study all about where he’d been.   Shortly before the home was demolished as part of the new Smyrna City Hall project, his children scraped a collection of faded train photos from his childhood bedroom and had them framed for display in his home, where they proudly hang to this day.  He shared his love of trains with his kids, building large and highly technical displays and tracks that pulled out from beneath the bed or dropped down from the garage wall.  He enjoyed model railroads as an adult, and was an active member of the Redstone Model Railroad Club, running trains with friends, enjoying club dinners, and especially field trips to see long trains, tunnels, old bridges and the like, throughout the Tennessee Valley region.

 

He graduated at a young age from Smyrna High School and enrolled at Georgia Tech, where he studied engineering for about two years.  His education was interrupted by his enlistment in the U.S. Air Force, where he served from 1950-1953, mostly working as a radio-officer on military flights involved in the rapid construction and development of Thule Air Base in the north of Greenland – a place he said is only memorable because it was half-way between Washington and Moscow at a time when the Cold War started to brew.  His missions and assignments were never the subject of great stories with his family, until he entered older age, when he finally shared accounts of polar bears walking outside the windows of his barracks; a plane crash that had to ditch into the sea near Shannon, Ireland, where he was the only survivor; and experiences with native residents living in the Arctic region. 

After his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1953, he continued his education, graduating from the University of Georgia, in the mid-50s.  Immediately thereafter, he started his lengthy and distinguished career path as a devoted public servant, working for the U.S. Army as a civilian auditor and contract specialist responsible for reviewing budgets and developing specifications for missiles and weapon systems from the 1950s through the 1980s, including the nation’s first large ICBM project (Pershing), Redstone,

Minuteman, Patriot, the Safeguard anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, and the Roland surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, until his retirement from the U.S. Army Missile Command in 1987.  During his tenure with the Missile Command, he earned an MBA from Alabama A&M in 1974. 

In the late 1950s, he met the love of his life, Nora Jean Chitwood, while they were working in Orlando with the Martin Company.  They married in 1959, and remained so until Nora passed away in 1991.  His kids could have been forgiven if they never knew their given names, because Andy always had a pet name for those he loved, Terry was “Son”; Gary was “Race Horse”; and Valerie was always, always his “Angel Baby.”  Andy and his family hold special memories and about their years as part of the Sherwood Baptist Church congregation in the late 60s through the 70s. 

Andy is survived by all three of his children, Terry (Kathy); Gary; and Valerie (Bruce); his beloved grandchildren, Stephanie, Andrew, Breck, and Roger; his sister, Becky McLean; cherished sister-in-law, Ida Faye “Woodie” Wheelhouse; many nieces and nephews; his Redstone train club buddies; and wonderful neighbors, especially Wanda and Mort Combs.  Both of his parents, his wife, and his older sister, Betty McLean-Moran, precede him in death. 

A private celebration of Andy’s life will be scheduled sometime this Fall.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Redstone Model Railroad Club, P.O. Box 8206, Huntsville, AL  35808.  Online condolences and special memories about Andy may be shared at www.bonneywatson.com   

Guestbook

Deborah McCutchen
Seattle, WA
Sep 24, 2018

It was a joy to have the opportunity to get to know Andy McLean. We will always remember his wit and good humor. He will be missed by his many friends.

Ed Taylor's and Deb McCutchen

Anne and Jim Sims
Madison, AL
Sep 20, 2018

I was saddened to learn of Andy’s passing. He was a very good friend for many years. Through the early years of this twenty-first century, Andy, along with other close friends, made many trips to Alabama’s largest industrial district to search for and photo-document the artifacts that we found. One of my most memorable events, during the years of explorations, was Andy’s strong desire to walk through the 700+’ West Jefferson Tunnel, located off the now abandoned L&N, Cain Creek Branch’s Banner Branch, in western Jefferson County. We walked almost a mile from my truck, on the abandoned roadbed, to the west portal of the tunnel. That’s when I realized that I had forgotten to bring a flashlight. Andy urged me to press on. So we did. It was hotter inside that tunnel, than the stifling heat outside! Not far into the blackness of the tunnel, we couldn’t see anything but a small light (the east portal) at the other end of the tunnel. We pressed on, until we were outside the east portal. Andy then asked me about a curved trestle located in that area. So, with an overabundance of mosquitoes we walked and swatted another quarter mile or so, to the picturesque and beautiful curved trestle that crossed Five Mile Creek. Now, with an impending setting sun, and with it the rapid encroachment of darkness and the dreaded walk back through the tunnel, we hurried back along the abandoned roadbed, through the tunnel, and to my truck before darkness came. We were tired but this was a very rewarding adventure.I had hopes of making more trips to Alabama’s industrial districts. But sadly, that was not to be.

To the McLean family, Anne and I extend our sincere condolences. I know you will miss him, but know that many others share your sadness.

Rest in peace, Andy, you are one of a kind. The “Real Deal”, and you will be very much missed by many.

Jim and Anne Sims

Karen Crook Stephenson
Union Grove, Al
Sep 18, 2018

Hey Terry,

My brother, Jay Crook, forwarded the obituary of your dad to me today. I'm so sorry to hear of your dad's passing. I hold some very fond memories of you and your family in Sherwood Park. I remember you, Jay, and I blowing up a lot of army men (plastic green guys) in the area behind our house. We also threw frogs off the top of the dugout with fire crackers in their mouths. We were BAD!!!! Tell your family we will be praying for them.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Karen Crook Stephenson

Mike Petersen
Huntsville, AL
Sep 18, 2018

A wonderful person I met my first visit to Redstone Model Railroad Club. Andy was always genuine and kind and offered an abundance of knowledge to me on train electronics. I will cherish the few old locomotives from his collection he gave me saying "I know a young smart guy like you can figure these out and make them work with DCC, enjoy! And I did. My regards to the family.

Jim Norris
Decatur, AL
Sep 18, 2018

My sincere condolences to the family. Andy was a long time supporter of the Redstone Model RR Club and a friend. Always a gentleman, always willing to lend a hand.

R. Nallamala, MD
HSV, AL
Sep 17, 2018

Gary:

Sorry to hear about Mr. McLean.

Thank you for your dutiful care of your father.

Wonderful write up in the paper, our office all shared in reading it today.

R. Nallamala.

Liz Byrne
Huntsville , AL
Sep 17, 2018

I didn't know Mr. McLean, but as an eight year resident of HSV & a person who finds this area abundant with histories of interesting life stories, I have developed a very unusual hobby of reading obituaries of those who have been a vibrant part of local history.

Your father's life story was so interesting, and afterward I felt I knew him! He truly found a way into my heart, and I thank you for sharing him with complete strangers. May his story live on in all your hearts!

Jay Crook
Toney, AL
Sep 17, 2018

Terry,

I am saddened to hear of your dad’s passing. It is my earnest prayer that you, Gary and Val will receive a gentle peace at this somber moment. The news of your father brings back so many sweet childhood memories of long hot summer days spent with you and your family. Thank you and your family for the opportunity to create those precious remembrances.

JULIAN BERRY
Huntsville, AL
Sep 16, 2018

I will miss Andy. Although I did not see him too much for the last couple of years (age and iillnes) we enjoyed our trains together for many years. RIPAndy

Susan Frampton Farrington
Katy, TX
Sep 15, 2018

Valerie,

I am so sorry about the loss of your Father. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time.

Susan

Basilio vargas
Albemarle, Nc
Sep 15, 2018

Our thouts are with you and the family at this time sorry for your loss we will keep you in our prayers

Kindest reguards

Basilio Vargas and family

Mary Battle
Tuscaloosa, AL
Sep 15, 2018

Dear Val, Gary, Terry & families,

I want to send my deepest condolences for the loss of your dad. I am so so sorry to hear of his passing. My thoughts and prayers will be with you all during this time.

Love,

Mary

Cathy Kulas
Huntsville, Al
Sep 15, 2018

Dear Terry,Gary and Val,

My deepest sympathy to all of you on the passing of your father, Andy. He was such a sweet ,gentle soul. Loved his trains!

Thoughts and prayers for all of you during this most difficult time.

Love,

Cathy

Rich and Marian Gordon
Des Moines, WA
Sep 15, 2018

Our hearts, prayers and thoughts are with you.

Thank you for sharing your Dad with us.

Love and Blessings,

Rich and Marian

This obituary is provided by Bonney-Watson, providing caring and compassionate funeral, cremation and cemetery services since 1868. We have a professional staff, four funeral homes, two cremation facilities and one of the largest cemeteries south of Seattle, as well as a comprehensive grief support program.

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