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William Campbell 'Mac'

McLean III | 1927-2008

Noted Tampa attorney William 'Mac' McLean dies at 80

Mac McLean was a Plant High, Duke University and UF law school alumnus.

Mac McLean was a Plant High, Duke University and UF law school alumnus.

PALMA CEIA — William "Mac" McLean finished his life just blocks away from where it began.

"He was actually born on Bayshore Boulevard,'' said his son, Campbell McLean.

"He was born in what's now known as the Bigelow Mansion. It was Tampa Hospital at the time. Then he grew up in Beach Park, made his way to Palma Ceia, and ended up back on Bayshore, and that's where he was living at the time of his death."

He had left for a few years, for college and law school, but Mr. McLean would never have thought of calling any other town but Tampa his home. He lived his entire life here and devoted much of his professional life to government work.

He passed away April 27, after battling multiple myeloma for many years. He was 80 years old.

"He was a sixth-generation lawyer," his son said. "It goes back to the late 1700s. His father was the Hillsborough County attorney for many years, and my great-grandfather was a supreme court justice in Mississippi. There's a fair amount of pressure to become a lawyer."

So after he graduated from Plant High School, Mr. McLean studied at Duke University and then the University of Florida law school. He immediately returned to Tampa and went into private practice with his father.

Familial pressure may have influenced his career choice, but he loved the practice of law.

"He never officially retired," his son said. "He still kept an office right up until the time of his death, and he was still seeing clients. He had cut back but he never stopped working."

His specialties were real estate, property and probate law, and he was a recognized expert in the field of eminent domain.

"He wrote the first chapter in the Florida Eminent Domain Handbook," Campbell McLean said. "For eminent domain lawyers in Florida, that's kind of their bible."

Besides maintaining his private practice, Mr. McLean served as either the assistant Hillsborough County attorney or as a consultant attorney to Hillsborough County for eminent domain continually since 1958.

In 1972, Mr. McLean was appointed general counsel to the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority, and served in that position for 25 years. For 20 years, he was a member of Hillsborough County's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Preservation Program.

In his later years, he joined the firm of Gray Robinson, where his son also practiced.

Practicing law wasn't the only family tradition Mr. McLean reveled in.

He was fiercely proud of his heritage and was a co-founder, past president and an active member of the St. Andrew's Society, which is devoted to celebrating all things Scottish.

He was also an accomplished bagpiper who often performed with the St. Andrew's Pipes and Drums, which he also co-founded.

Besides his son, Mr. McLean is survived by his wife, Ruthanne, daughters Susannah Shubin and Cynthia Baran, brother Howard Jones McLean and five grandchildren.

Marty Clear writes life stories about Tampa residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at

Noted Tampa attorney William 'Mac' McLean dies at 80 05/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2008 4:31am]
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