|“His spirit winked with lustrous light,
May tour the planets in a single flight.”
From his own poet-heart, in lines written about his own son, are these words which so well describe the spirit of the Reverend Charles Edward McLean—fun-loving, youth-centered, God-filled minister of the Gospel. On Sunday, May 7, 1950, he went swiftly, as through an already opened door, to be with the God he served so well and the boy who had gone on ahead of him just a little while.
Brother “Slim” McLean had suffered two heart seizures some weeks before, and his death came unexpectedly on a Sunday following the noon meal and the usual Sunday morning services in the Church in New Iberia.
He joined the Louisiana Conference in 1922, was ordained in 1924 at Crowley and served the following pastorates: Istrouma Church in Baton Rouge, Gibsland, Gordon Avenue in Monroe, Keener Memorial in Baton Rouge, Franklinton, Bastrop, Crowley and New Iberia.
In his early life he studied at the grade school at Gurlie, Louisiana, and the School of Theology at Centenary College, leaving college in 1918 to serve with Company 4, Headquarters Battery “C,” 72nd Artillery of the United States Army during World War One. He received his honorable discharge in April 1919.
He was married in 1921 to Miss Lucille Bowdon of Pelican, Louisiana, and to this union the following children were born: Charles Richard, Francis Edward, Beatrice Ruth, Julia Alice and James Albert (twins), Mar-garet Lucille, William Paul.
His son, Lieutenant Charles Richard McLean of the United States Marine Corps Reserve, was killed in line of duty on January 19, 1944.
The love and deep respect of the ministry and the faith of Louisiana Methodism belonged to Brother “Slim” and his wonderful family in a way earned by only a few great souls. His interest in and devotion to youth made him a general favorite at camps and youth programs. Skill in archery gave him a special place wherever Methodist young people gathered together, and many a time his bow and arrow were loving weapons used to help youngsters “put on the whole armor of God.”
Children were drawn to his radiant light-heartedness, as were older people. Surely that is why be bad such tender concern for the Louisiana Methodist Orphanage and other kindred homes and therefore made such a capable understanding chairman of the committee on Hospitals and Homes of the Louisiana Conference from 1948 until his death.
He was a preacher of unusual ability because he had mental agility and brilliance coupled with the heart and soul of a poet, plus a unique human and fun-loving spirit. His record in conference studies showed not A’s but mostly hundreds! His would overflow in poetry of a singular worth and reached both depths of feeling and height of inspired faith as he wrote lines about his hero boy. It was an inspiration to all who knew him to find such depth of feeling mingled with light-hearted, friendly loving kindness. His ready wit brought brightness to scores of people; his love for sports, especially fishing, made him “everybody’s preacher.”
Of course the greatest thing about him was his radiant faith. It extended through his entire family during their time of greatest sorrow, and on to countless persons who found solace and comfort because of it. He expressed this sublime faith best, I think, in the poem, “L’envoy” and in the little message sent out by the family at the death of their son and brother. In~ so doing he pictured his own great soul. As I quote these, may I use the second and third verses to describe the two of them as they “sit down together in the Father’s Kingdom.”
“We have not lost him. He is absent on a mission in sunnier climes than ours. We have him enshrined in affection as abiding as is character, and in beautiful memories as imperishable as is the mind!”
2. “He has put aside his silver wings
And has taken service with the King of Kings:
Where youth is no longer a prey to strife,
And where no man wasteth precious life.
3. “His spirit winged with lustrous light,
May tour the planets in a single flight,
And-all unmarred by hate below-
May share with others his warm heart’s glow.”