My personal thanks to comrade Lange for sending flowers and sparking my offering of a donation to Alan’s parish.

Through the kind offices of the circulation assistant at Wenatchee World, I am forwarding a couple of articles concerning Alan’s death and—more significantly—his life. The folks at WW have promised to send me any additional coverage they may have of his funeral or after. I’ll pass those on. As in Fred’s initial offering, if you see comrades missing from this address package—I know some are—feel free to pass them on. In this case, it’s even legal.

Semper fi,

Andy V.


Area religious leaders mourn death of priest: McLean died of self-inflicted gunshot, authorities believe

By Michelle McNiel World staff writer
Sunday - February 13, 2005

WENATCHEE -- The Rev. Alan McLean died in surgery Friday night after apparently shooting himself in the chest at his church, St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

A preliminary investigation, including forensic and physical evidence, suggests the wound was self-inflicted, Wenatchee police Sgt. John Kruse said Saturday morning.

Emergency dispatchers received a 911 call at 6:38 p.m. from 428 King St. There was no one on the line, but a dispatcher heard "labored breathing," indicating the priest called after being shot, Kruse said.

Investigators did not find a note, but did find a .45-caliber handgun with the priest, Kruse said. McLean bought it in December, he said.

Kruse said police believe McLean was by himself when he was shot. He did not know where in the church McLean was found.

Church members and other religious leaders expressed shock at news of McLean's death.

"The church is stunned. It has hit us like a fist in the chest. It's a real tragedy," said Wenatchee resident Ron Bartram, a longtime church member.

McLean, who lost both legs during combat in the Vietnam War, appeared to be conscious as he was wheeled out of the church on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance.

As the ambulance was pulling away, a woman ran from a vehicle toward the church yelling, "That's my husband! That's my husband!"

A firefighter told the woman that her husband had been shot, and the woman climbed into the ambulance before it headed to Central Washington Hospital.

The Rev. Jane Ostby at The Sunnyslope Church said McLean was a gifted man, very serious about matters of faith but with a nice, dry sense of humor. "He had a very caring heart. This is such horrible news," Ostby said Saturday morning.

Church member Pete Peterson and his son, Michael, were clearing an adjacent lot for the church when the shooting occurred. Pete Peterson said he talked to McLean around 12:30 p.m. Friday, and then started working on the lot at 4:30 p.m. Around the time of the 911 call, Peterson said he was pounding and hammering noisily, but recalled hearing a strange noise. A short time later, after emergency vehicles started arriving, he said he walked over to the church to see what happened.

"He's a super nice guy," Peterson said of McLean as he waited outside the church entrance.

McLean has served as priest of the Wenatchee church since Sept. 3, 2002. At the time, the church had been without its own priest for two years. He was one of 44 candidates for the position.

After earning his master of divinity degree in 1990, McLean did training in Indianapolis, Ind., administrative work at a seminary in Illinois, and served as pastor of churches in Pine Bluff, Ark., and Forest, Va., before coming to Wenatchee.

Before his seminary training, McLean had a successful business career. He earned a bachelor's degree in history at Harvard and a master's degree in business at Stanford University. He worked in finance for the Pillsbury Co. and lived for five years in France. The course of his life changed in the early 1980s, he said in an interview with The Wenatchee World in 2002, after he enrolled in a four-year evening course in Bible studies. Two years later, he left his prosperous business career to attend Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.

"I'd been wrestling with whether I was called to some kind of role in the church," he told a reporter in 2002.

McLean said he was leading a Marine rifle platoon in Vietnam in 1967 when he stepped on a land mine and his legs were shattered. He left the service with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Because he retained one knee, he was fitted with prostheses that enabled him to walk without a cane.

He met his wife, Betsy, in Boston and they were married in 1968. They have three grown children.

McLean served as secretary of the Network of Churches, a coalition of churches in the Wenatchee area.

Two weeks ago, McLean started a new monthly worship service for Episcopalians in Leavenworth.

Pastor Sam Detwiler of the Wenatchee Brethren-Baptist Church, who has worked with McLean through the Network of Churches, said, "He's a good man. He has a lot of integrity. He cares a lot about his church and he's very willing to work with other churches."

Bob Shepard, executive director of Serve Wenatchee Valley, a network of 35 local churches, said McLean has been active in a local pastors' luncheon and hosted a multi-church Good Friday service at his church two years ago.

"He's a great guy; he has a great sense of humor," Shepard said. "He has provided wonderful leadership for the Episcopal Church. The church struggled without a leader for a while, but he has really stayed the course."

"It's truly sad," said the Rev. Tom Kuykendall of St. Joseph's Catholic Church. "He always struck me as a truly kind man. We'll certainly keep him and his congregation in our prayers."

World staff writers Ryan Feeney and Rick Steigmeyer contributed to this report.

Michelle McNiel can be reached at 664-7152 or by e-mail at
The Wenatchee World Online -
14 N Mission St., Wenatchee, WA 98801 * Phone: 509-663-5161, Fax: 509-662-5413


Pastor's death stuns St. Luke's church family

By Denise Holley World staff writer
Monday - February 14, 2005

WENATCHEE -- A devastating injury in the Vietnam War accompanied the Rev. Alan McLean for the rest of his life, as he walked on prosthetic legs through a business career and ministry in the Episcopal church that brought him to St. Luke's Episcopal Church in 2002.

Last Friday, McLean, 62, was carried into an ambulance from his church office at 428 King St. with a gunshot wound to the chest that Wenatchee police said was self-inflicted. He died later during surgery.

In 1967, McLean stepped on a land mine while on a Marine patrol in Vietnam and lost parts of both legs.

"We know that Alan lived with physical and emotional pain throughout his life," Bishop James Waggoner of the Spokane diocese said Sunday at a 10 a.m. service at the Wenatchee church.

"He (McLean) continues to be a casualty of war," Waggoner told the congregation. "Certainly this recent war (Iraq) brought back the pain and horror."

Members from St. James Episcopal Church in Cashmere joined the Wenatchee parishioners to fill the small sanctuary. At a potluck lunch after the service, senior warden John Lafer said no one could have predicted the event because McLean didn't reveal the extent of his pain.

"He was in a great deal of pain," McLean's wife, Betsy, said about her husband. The Veterans Hospital in Spokane had recently changed his prosthetic legs and he was still adjusting to the new limbs.

"He was deeply affected by his time in Vietnam and very distressed about the war in Iraq," his wife said.

On the last day of his life, her husband went to work in his office, came home to have lunch with her, then returned to the church, she said. "I had no inkling (about what was coming)."

Church member Bob Reilly, an Army veteran and retired pastor, said soldiers with severe wounds and traumatic combat experience never recover fully. "They just don't talk about it," he said.

Post-traumatic stress disorder triggers a chemical reaction in the brain, said retired Episcopal priest Bob Hasseries of Cashmere, who counseled draftable men during the Vietnam War. "It kicks you into a depression and you never know when it's going to happen."

World War II veterans would meet at reunions to swap war stories, but veterans returning from Korea, Vietnam and the first Gulf War had no such outlet for their trauma, Hasseries said. The same is true for those returning from the Iraq war.

At a church network meeting last year, McLean said he wanted to start a support group for veterans experiencing stress from the current war, said the Rev. Michael McNiel, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in East Wenatchee.

"It was bringing up a lot of old memories for him," McNiel said.

Betsy McLean said her husband was "blessed with enormous grace, understanding and compassion -- and a good wit."

Waggoner described McLean as "a companion in faith who has touched and transformed lives. In the midst of pain, Alan McLean did extraordinary things with his life."

McLean's daughters in Olympia and Tacoma and son in Albuquerque, N.M., traveled to Wenatchee to be with their mother. A memorial service is tentatively scheduled for Saturday.

Denise Holley can be reached at 664-7148 or by e-mail at

The Wenatchee World Online -
14 N Mission St., Wenatchee, WA 98801 * Phone: 509-663-5161, Fax: 509-662-5413


Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2005

The Wenatchee World


An autopsy on the body of a priest who was shot Friday at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Wenatchee shows he died of a gunshot to the chest, Chelan County Coroner Gina Fino said. The death of the Rev. Alan McLean, 62, was ruled a suicide, she said.

- Ryan Feeney, World staff