Richard MacLean, Valley Stream native and humanitarian dies at 66

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Richard Edward MacLean, a humanitarian, philanthropist, leader, father, grandfather and all-around lover of life, died at age 66 in his home in Brookfield, Conn., surrounded by family, on Aug. 25. Although cancer claimed his life, it did not define him.

Richard was the second of four children born to parents Edward MacLean and Genevieve Elderkin in Valley Stream. He graduated from Valley Stream South High School in 1971. There, he excelled in wrestling and jamming out to his favorite band, The Grateful Dead. He went on to attend Columbia University, wrestling on a collegiate level and earning a bachelor of arts in religion in 1976. In 1977 he enrolled in New York Law School and earned his juris doctorate in 1980.

 He was known to be fun, interesting, charismatic and smart, according to loved ones. He was often the life of the party with a microphone in hand singing his heart out, or sitting in a corner spot having a heartfelt chat. Known by his friends for his sincere compassion, Richard was as famous for getting his friends out of trouble as he was for getting himself into it. He had a smile that could light a room, a selfless and generous nature and was funny as hell.

 Above all else, Richard held his children dearest, including his three children, three grandchildren and his dog, Teddy. In the spirit of his favorite family vacations, he purchased “Chez Dick,” his own permanent lake residence and sanctuary on Lake Lillinonah. He was an avid water-skier and boater, enjoyed racquetball, and snow skiing and had a legendary golf swing. He traveled the world, most recently taking trips to Africa, Ireland and France. Richard was considered a renaissance man of many hobbies, talents and passions. Among his many interests was a love for holiday decorating, including construction of a Christmas village.

 Richard had a long and successful career as a lawyer, propelled by his work ethic and hustle. His career began in private practice, and after years of trials and working in courtrooms, he headed into corporate law with the Sobe Beverage Company. He was an early employee of the global pet food company, Blue Buffalo, having many different roles at the company including v.p. of operations and general counsel.

 He was also well known for his love for music and the arts. He played with The Irish Band, a local Fairfield County favorite, and acted in several productions put on by the Fairfield Gaelic American Club. Richard was a lifelong fan of Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, and Paul Simon among many others.

Over the last several years of his life MacLean took on a role as a philanthropist. He was a member of several charity boards including Action Against Hunger, Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation and Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Foundation. In his work with Action Against Hunger, he traveled to a small village in Kenya to observe a mother-to-mother support group, a local dispensary and a community health unit. He was also a regular supporter of The Umbrella Club and the St. Patrick’s Gaelic Athletic Organization.

 Richard is pre-deceased by his daughter, Rebecca MacLean Audet in 2013, and survived by daughter Katherine MacLean and her husband John Motsinger; son, Edward MacLean; brother, and sister-in-law Greg and Sue MacLean; sister, Nancy Gerbeau; sister, Margaret (Peggy) MacLean and grandchildren Anya, Frances and Raymond in addition to, of course, his true better half and loyal friend to the end, Teddy the golden retriever.

 In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Richard MacLean Fund through Action Against Hunger, an international nonprofit organization focused on supporting children struggling with hunger. There will be a memorial and celebration of Richard’s life for his family, friends and colleagues from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Redding Country Club at 109 Lonetown Road, Redding Conn.

-Compiled by Peter Belfiore