Obituary of Susan H. McLean
February 13, 2021
Susan Elizabeth Hinton, the only child of Frederick Hinton and Laurel Thompkins Hinton, was born in the Bronx, NY. When she was two, her father was murdered attempting to foil a robbery at his place of employment; when she was nineteen, her mother passed. For significant periods of her childhood she was raised by her maternal grandparents James and Winsome Thompkins. While a teen, of her own volition, she committed to the Episcopal Church. Susan excelled in New York City's public schools: her talent as a flutist earned her acceptance to the acclaimed competitive-entry High School of Music and Art in Manhattan from which she graduated in 1965. In 1966, she was sent to California to have her only child whom she raised as a single parent in Southern California and the Bay Area.
Susan's life-long career in the travel industry began when she became a pioneering black flight attendant. Her primary assignment was ferrying troops between the States and the Viet Nam war zone during active hostilities. Working for such airlines as Eastern and Seaboard World, she traveled throughout the Pacific Islands and the Far East, spending considerable time in Japan. When Susan stopped flying to maintain a more stable environment for her son in Oakland, California, she became a travel agent. This work not only sustained her but enabled ongoing travel; she even worked for a few years in Jamaica, West Indies. In 1988, she returned to the Bronx to assist her ailing grandmother and took a position at American Express where, over her 15-year tenure, she earned management responsibilities and won many achievement awards. Working in Lower Manhattan both before and after September 11th, 2001, Susan was directly exposed to both the trauma and the toxins associated with the World Trade Center site.
On October 15, 1989, she met her life partner, Charles E. McLean Jr.; they wed in 1997. Always together, Susan and Charles enjoyed supporting their families, engaging with friends and neighbors, fine dining and of course travel. They traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Europe. Susan particularly loved Paris, the South of France, Florence, and the luxury of cruising.
In 2004, Susan followed Charles to Washington, DC where he had taken a position in the federal government. After a period of volunteering for veteran support organizations, she accepted a position as a Freedom of Information Act Specialist at the Federal Aviation Administration. Although the McLeans returned to their New York City home in 2014, Susan continued to work for the FAA until retiring in 2018.
Susan loved Greenwich Village and her New York life: the Met, the US Open, Knicks games at the Garden, visiting friends in the Hamptons, etc. In addition to her daily reading regimen, her interests included New York-oriented publications, sports, political affairs, music (from Doo Wop and Latin to classical and jazz) and gossip. Her understated manner and presentation exuded class; her signature style was sharply conservative. Her quiet self-confidence was buttressed by her sterling character, courage and unmatched integrity. What's not to love?
Susan was certified by the Word Trade Center Victims Fund and waged her courageous battle against breast cancer with quiet dignity from 2005 until her passing. She is survived by her husband Charles McLean; granddaughters Jessica Lynn Cruse and Desirae Elizabeth McBee; great-granddaughter Zoey Elizabeth McBee; grandson-in-law Tyler McBee; and daughter-in-law Catherine Porter; son Donald M Cruse; cousins Sharon and Tracy Hart, and Brent Carrington. Many friends, neighbors and former colleagues across the country also mourn.
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