Family remembers Don McLean
DON McLean was born in Mitchell on November 7, 1927, to D.S.L. (Stuart) and Joan Mitford (nee Lilley) McLean.
He grew up at Possession Creek, north of Mitchell, with his brothers Malcolm and Lachlan.
Their mother taught them their first years of schooling via Primary Correspondence School.
A part-Aborigine, Bill Jackson, had a profound influence on the three boys, teaching them many bush skills and animal husbandry.
Don went to Toowoomba Prep School from 1939 to 1942, then Churchie in 1943.
The drought and his father’s ill health caused Don to return to Possession Creek before completing his senior years of high school.
Romance blossomed for Don, with Helen Loughnan, and they announced their engagement in May 1949 and married soon after.
On December 8, 1950, Don and Helen’s son Walter was born in the Mitchell Hospital.
The Maranoa River was in flood causing Helen, also known as Peep, to cross the river by the rail bridge in light drizzle.
On May 9, 1952, the couple’s second son Bruce was born in the Mitchell Hospital.
A third son, Jonathan, was born in the Mitchell Hospital on January 29, 1965, during the severe drought which finally broke the following December.
Don instilled into his sons a strong work ethic.
He was known as a hard worker, a characteristic that has also shown up in his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He was always prepared to give his sons a go and his advice was always sound.
He always called a spade a spade and had the courage of his convictions. Despite coping with many adversities, he was still a very humble man.
Don was community- minded. He was the local Abbieglassie Rural Fire Brigade warden for more than 25 years and a JP for more than 50 years.
He was inaugural president of the local Tomoo Rd Branch of ICPA in 1971 and he and Peep held executive positions while educating Jonathan.
Don was a councillor on the Booringa Shire Council for 19 years, representing Division 5 from 1979 to 1997.
Like his father before him, Don was Mitchell Show Society president and received life membership with Peep in 1989.
Every afternoon Peep and Don would have a drink and discuss the day’s business with whichever sons were at home.
Right up until the floods they still sat outside of an evening for a drink, a smoke and yarn.
The Mitchell floods in 2012 affected Peep and Don, leading to their full-time care by the wonderful staff at the Mitchell Hospital and Booringa Wing.
Don was farewelled at a service conducted by Rev. Steffan van Munster at All Saints’ Anglican Church, Mitchell on September 30 last year. He was interred with Peep.
Don would have been proud of his six grandsons, who all wore McLean ties and acted as pall bearers.
Don is survived by his three sons – Walter and Christine, Bruce and Elizabeth, Jonathan and Tarn McLean, nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.