John Kenneth McLean, 77, died on Nov. 29.
He was born on April 15, 1934, in Burns, the third of four sons born to Avis J. Carter and Warren McLean.
McLean went to grade school at Andrews and Fields, then attended and graduated from Crane High School in 1952. He roomed with Buster Miller for three of his four years in the Crane dormitory. While attending Crane, he had many adventures and misadventures, and created friendships that would last for life.
McLean spent his life with livestock, beginning before he was school-age, herding a bunch of old ewes and bummer lambs that didn’t go to the mountains. He spent his life raising sheep, cattle and good quarter-horses. He spent 17 years with the sheep, summering in the Steens and Pueblo mountains. Their herders were mainly Spanish Basque. In time, he learned their language and Castilian Spanish. The McLean’s ran 5,000 to 6,000 head of sheep along with their cows.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving from 1957-1959, and was stationed at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., as a cook and baker.
McLean was the last of a breed — the old time buckaroos from back when horses weren’t broke until they were 5-years-old. There were no horse trailers, so a horse may have to go 30 to 50 miles the first day. McLean packed a string of mules into his sheep camps and lived in a tent. He eventually moved out of Harney County and onto Little Butter Creek.
In September of 1976, McLean went to the Pendleton Round-up and met Bette Tessman, one month later they were married. Their married life had many ups and downs — losing a ranch, owning what he said were “the toughest cows in the country with the debt load they carried” — but McLean and his wife survived in the cattle industry, and topped the market numerous times with their calves.
McLean’s special joy was being surrounded by young people. Through the years, numerous college kids would sit down to enjoy his sourdough biscuits and learn from him. McLean named the young cowboys who would come visit “the Patawa Posse,” for the name of the creek he lived on.
When McLean gave compliments, they were along the line of “he knows how to work a cow,” or “he’s a hand.” He was a shrewd judge of character and was outspoken — everyone knew where they stood with him. His family joked that no one holds a grudge like a Scotsman.
McLean is survived by his wife, Bette; daughters, June Falcon and husband Ty, and Sue Hughes and husband Jay; son, John McLean and wife Jodi, and Chap (Warren) Mclean; five grandchildren; step-children, Jo Marie Tessman, Jennifer Lewis and Aric Tessman; three step- grandchildren; brothers, Ronald McLean and wife Tyke, and Keith McLean and wife Linda; numerous nieces and nephews; and a large extended family on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
He was preceded in death by his oldest brother, Delmer and his parents.
Services for McLean will be at Tutuilla Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 2 p.m. Burns Mortuary in Pendleton is in charge of funeral arrangements.