Laura Fae Martin McLean, 99, died peacefully on Wednesday August 5, 2020 in her Mystic, Connecticut home at StoneRidge. She was born in Lakeport, California to Rev. Arthur N. and Vesper Meadows Martin. When Laura Fae was still a baby, the family moved to Colorado where Rev. Martin became pastor of the Christian Church in Rifle. Laura Fae and her older siblings Bob and Ruth grew up as part of a loving and close-knit community full of friends and watchful neighbors. The mountains were their playground and their special treat was swimming in nearby Glenwood Springs’ famous Hot Springs Pool, which she frequently and proudly reminded her children, was the largest hot springs pool in the world.
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After 10 years in Rifle, the family moved to Windsor, Colorado where Laura Fae developed her lifelong love of classical music, particularly Opera. Her teenage years were filled with academics and singing and she was accomplished at both. More than once she performed on a local radio station and she graduated from Windsor High School as valedictorian of her class. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Denver and after teaching for a short period, was accepted into the Graduate Nursing Program at Yale University. It was at Yale that she met a handsome medical student who turned her life upside down, and after a whirlwind romance, she married Charles McLean in January 1946, just a few months before the army shipped him off to the Philippines and Korea. During her new husband’s tour overseas, Laura Fae returned to her family in Greeley, Colorado where she taught elementary school English.
After Charles’ discharge from the Army, the newlyweds settled in Connecticut, where Charles was a medical resident. Their firstborn, Chuck, arrived in May of 1949. In 1952, the couple moved to Buffalo New York where Charles became a Fellow in the Cardiopulmonary Laboratory at Buffalo General Hospital. That same year, they welcomed their second child, Patti. In 1953 they returned to Wethersfield, Connecticut when Charles joined the staff at Hartford Hospital. In 1960 son Jimmy was born, and the family moved to Glastonbury, CT where they lived for 45 years.
Although a busy mother of three, Laura Fae found the time to become involved in local politics and other volunteer efforts in Glastonbury, and when Jimmy reached school age, she became a teacher of students with special educational needs at Academy Junior High. Laura Fae’s nurturing and creative teaching style endeared her to her students and several of them stayed in close contact with her for many years after she retired. In 1980, Laura Fae and Charles bought a summer home in East Dennis, MA on Cape Cod Bay, which brought them and the whole family much joy for more than 25 years.
Laura Fae was a happily transplanted Easterner, but the call of her Rocky Mountains never waivered, and over the years, the family made numerous road trips that crisscrossed the US but always ended up in her beloved Colorado. In the end, both her sons caught the Colorado bug, with Chuck settling in Aspen and Jim in Golden.
Laura Fae’s intellectual curiosity and creativity were well known and much appreciated by her family and friends, and her greatest talent was writing. She was a prolific poet with a great sense of humor. Her friends and family always looked forward to the poems and riddles that could be found at any time, in any place for occasions that didn’t even exist until Laura Fae memorialized them in verse. She was also a great lover of animals, especially her beloved cats. When she and Charles moved to the StoneRidge Retirement Community in Mystic, she immediately created a newsletter called PawPrints that featured photos and clever stories about all of StoneRidge’s four-legged residents.
Above all, Laura Fae loved her family and her dear friends. She always put others first, and she formed fast and long-lasting relationships. In fact, she shared “round robin” letters with a group of Nursing School alums for more than 60 years until she was the last surviving member of the group. She was a real presence, and she will be greatly missed, and never forgotten by all who knew and loved her.
Laura Fae is survived by her daughter Patti and husband Tom of Stonington, CT; son Jim, and his wife Debbie of Golden, CO; grandson Colin, of Golden, CO; and grandson Slater of San Francisco, CA. She is also survived by her nieces, Marla Kitchell and Patty Meismer and their families, all of whom were so dear to her. She was predeceased by her brother and sister, her beloved husband, and dear son Chuck, and numerous much-loved pets. Once we are able to travel and gather for a family memorial, Laura Fae’s ashes will come with us to Colorado where she will forever be among family and friends in the Mountains she loved so much.
While Laura Fae was a regular contributor to several charities that supported people and animals in need, we know she would especially appreciate memorial contributions to any chapter of the ALS Association in honor of her son Charles M. McLean.
The family would also like to thank the dedicated and caring professionals at StoneRidge’s TopSail Assisted Living Facility, as well as Hartford HealthCare at Home Hospice, and the individual caregivers who treated our mother like family and became our friends. They were so kind and compassionate during these challenging times and we will forever be grateful.
Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home, 59 Spruce St., Westerly is in care of the arrangements. For online condolences please visit www.gaffneydolanfuneralhome.com