- Published: March 4, 2010
David Stanley McLellan, a retired professor of political science at Miami University and the author of several books about international affairs, died Sunday, Feb. 21, at his home in Yellow Springs. He was 85.
Dr. McLellan was a son of hardworking immigrants who learned that with determination and education he could rise and make a difference in society. He went on to travel the world, champion civil rights, interview world leaders, write dozens of books and articles, teach hundreds of students, and raise four children with Ann, his beloved wife of 65 years.
Dr. McLellan was born Dec. 24, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York. A track scholarship took him to Yale University in 1942. After a stint as an Air Force navigator and bombardier in the Pacific in the final months of WWII, he returned to Yale to finish a bachelors in 1948. Then he and Ann, who had married in 1945, discovered Europe. In Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. McLellan earned a License es Sciences Politique degree. After returning to Yale for a masters in international relations, the family went to Grenoble, France. There he conducted graduate research for his Ph.D. dissertation. At the same time, as a contract employee for the Central Intelligence Agency, he scouted the Alps and measured fields where the Allies might land airplanes if the Soviet Union invaded Europe.
The family then moved to Riverside, Calif., where Dr. McLellan would teach political science at the University of California.
In California, Dr. McLellan became deeply involved in Democratic politics and the civil rights movement. His parents had left Scotland in part to escape rigid class differences. As a child, he had felt the sting of being at the low end of a rigid social pecking order because his family were immigrants, and at Yale, he felt the scorn of his more privileged classmates.
One day on summer break, a visiting African-American college friend of his younger brother, Robert, was turned away from a public swimming pool. Dr. McLellan would fix his passion for justice and equality on rights for African Americans. In addition to his public statements, he and Ann opened their home to leaders of the movement who visited California to tell their story, recruit backers and raise funds.
Dr. McLellan was not afraid to take unpopular positions, even when they put him at risk. As a young, untenured professor in the 1950s, he spoke out forcefully and publicly against the repressive tactics of the House Un-American Activities Committee. A furor ensued. Despite political pressures to support the U.S war in Vietnam, he opposed it.
David and Ann McLellan sought to open the eyes of their children to the world beyond the United States. In 1966, he accepted a two-year post as director of the University of California’s education abroad program in Bordeaux, France. The family — often riding in a VW bus and camping along the way — visited Scotland, England, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy and Spain. In 1968, the entire family boarded a train in Paris and spent several weeks visiting Berlin, St. Petersburg, Moscow and Prague.
In 1970, Dr. McLellan joined the political science department at Miami University of Ohio. As in California, he was a devoted and popular teacher.
Dr. McLellan published numerous books and articles centered on the Cold War, including the favorably reviewed biographies, Dean Acheson: The State Department Years, and Cyrus Vance. He also edited a volume of Acheson’s letters.
Dr. McLellan was awarded a Ford International Relations post-doctoral fellowship in 1959, a fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Foreign Policy Research in 1963, a Rockefeller Fellowship at the Villa Serbelloni, Italy, in 1970, a Clare Hall Fellowship in Cambridge, England in 1982 and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in Washington, D.C. in 1983.
Dr. McLellan is survived by his wife, Ann Handforth McLellan of Yellow Springs; son Eric, daughter Marjorie and son-in-law Gary Greenberg, all of Yellow Springs, daughter Michele McLellan of Phum Thum, Cambodia, and son-in-law Roger Wyatt of Saratoga Springs, N. Y.; grandson Jesse Greenberg of Los Angeles and granddaughters Cara Greenberg of Columbus and Hypatia McLellan of Yellow Springs. His oldest daughter, Hilary, preceded him in death in October 2009.