Former Oak Bay Police Sgt. Dan McLean could never sit still and wasn’t going to let an annoying thing like cancer change that.
One week before he died Tuesday at 62, he met many visitors at his Oak Bay home, never turning anyone away due to fatigue from the illness. One of those visits saw Mayor Nils Jensen and members of the Oak Bay police present him with a Chief Constable’s Commendation. Another brought out a very determined McLean, who wanted to go out with friends for a beer.
“He said, ‘I want to go out and have a pint, I’m going out,'” said McLean’s wife of 32 years, Barbara. “It was so hard for him to do it, but he said, ‘I’m going to do it,’ and he did.”
The future police officer was born in Cranbrook, but his family moved around because his dad held various jobs, from logging and fishing to running a restaurant, motel and hotel.
McLean graduated high school in 100 Mile House and went to Edmonton to study political science. He took a year off from studying and travelled through Central and South America, where he became fluent in Spanish and witnessed the military coup in Argentina.
He joined the Edmonton police in 1980 and moved to Oak Bay in 1986, retiring in 2007. In those 21 years, he was active in the community. A huge baseball fan, he coached at various levels and served a stint as president of Oak Bay Little League. He also volunteered with Oak Bay Kiwanis and organized a donation drive of new and used baseball equipment from around the region for children in Nicaragua.
“He managed to get a whole container full of equipment down there,” Barbara said. “This was probably one of his biggest projects he has done.”
Oak Bay police Deputy Chief Kent Thom said McLean really cared about the community and his fellow officers.
After he retired, McLean stopped by the police station for a visit and asked Thom if he had had his prostate and colon checked. When Thom responded no, McLean, who had just beat prostate cancer, insisted he get it done, explaining why and the importance of early detection.
“He left quite an impact on the people he met,” Thom said. “He’s probably one of best-liked police officers we’ve had.”
McLean was diagnosed with liver cancer shortly after his prostate scare. During his long battle with cancer, he wrote a book about the history of the Oak Bay police and taught himself Italian.
Dan McLean is survived by his wife Barbara and children Jimmy and Coralie. A celebration of his life will be held this Saturday (Nov. 16) at Windsor Pavilion at 1:30 p.m.