Paying tribute to a friend |

Paying tribute to a friend

Dear Editor:

Our dear friend Charles Martin McLean (May 17, 1949 – Oct. 5, 2010) lived 10 times the life experience that most mortals ever will know.

Chuck was that rare visionary who awed and inspired with precisely planned grand designs. After he took me on in 1994 over a cup of coffee, I became his “right-hand man” at Denver Research Group at the ABC, Basalt, and finally from our respective home offices. Around Aspen, where his lovely wife Amy served as Aspen city manager for eight years, Chuck was less famous.

But known to few local residents, from Aspen during 1994-2000, I was blessed to help Chuck: (1) Introduce public Internet access and build empowerment websites for Compton, Lynwood and 15 other Los Angeles barrios with The Pacific Pipeline Project in 1995-96 (the O.J. Simpson jury was sequestered on the sixth floor of our Intercontinental Hotel that autumn); (2) Revolutionize U.S. environmental regulation in the 1990s – first by coordinating face-to-face dialogues at The Aspen Institute, where leaders of Fortune 500 companies, major environmental groups and city, county, state and Federal agencies learned to stop demonizing one another at our “Series on the Environment in the 21st Century,” then in actualizing the first of more than 50 cleaner-cheaper-smarter Final Project Agreements signed nationally, a public, transparent environmental strategic plan which pre-permitted a $2.3 billion semiconductor manufacturing plant in Chandler, Ariz., dissolved five levels of government red tape into one permit, had me publish and manage a cutting-edge project website for Intel, and prompted then-EPA Administrator Carol Browner to fly down to Maricopa County for the FPA signing with Intel and ADEQ; and (3) Create, then populate and manage the Israeli Defense Forces’ main public relations database on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under Ariel Sharon (now The Fairness Project) – even though none of us four principals were Jewish.

Along the way, I managed McLean Properties Inc., for Chuck, helping him clean out the Denver Gaylord mansion of DRG’s hey-day, and acting as gofer when he boldly elected to be his own general contractor (demolition expert, earth mover, electrician, plumber, etc.) and build an eclectic dream home on the West End in Aspen. This, he swapped within weeks of completing construction with a house across the street owned by Java creator/Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy (a much nicer home, IMHO), which he immediately remodeled. With insatiable curiosity and boundless energy, this figure transformed each sector he touched with a diligence and integrity lost on no one. Chuck, you were the hardest worker and kindest soul I shall ever meet.

Rest in Peace.

Jim Coombs


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User