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R. Taylor “Teto” McLean, retired lawyer who enjoyed tennis and music, dies

R. Taylor “Teto” McLean was an active member of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.
R. Taylor “Teto” McLean was an active member of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.

R. Taylor “Teto” McLean, a retired lawyer who loved tennis and whose musical tastes ranged from Lead Belly to Beethoven, died Jan. 15 from complications of a stroke at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Woodbrook resident was 92.

“Teto was one of the finest fellows I’ve ever known and in every way,” said Truman T. Semans of Brooklandville, a boyhood and lifelong friend. “He was a naturally gifted lawyer, ornithologist and athlete, a very good lawyer, and just a good all-around fine fellow.”

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Robert Taylor McLean, son of Alexander Henderson McLean, an Air Force colonel, and his wife, Frances Winship Taylor, an amateur actress, was born in Baltimore and raised on Bellemore and Harriton roads in North Roland Park.

During the 1940s, he attended St. Paul’s School for Boys, which was then located in Mount Washington, where he played football, lacrosse and basketball.

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After graduating in 1946, Mr. McLean, who was known as “Teto,” attended the Johns Hopkins University for two years before enrolling in the University of Virginia, where he played lacrosse for three years and was an active member of Delta Phi fraternity.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1950, his law degree three years later from the University of Virginia School of Law.

In the early 1950s, he practiced law in downtown Baltimore and was an assistant U.S. attorney until the mid-1950s, when he joined the fledgling Proctor, Royston & Mueller firm, which is now Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid, where he was a partner and practiced both estates and trusts law until retiring in 2017.

Mr. McLean, an inveterate outdoorsman, enjoyed kayaking, camping, ocean swimming and bird-watching, and was never without a pair of binoculars. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of bird calls, markings and behavior, family members said. He liked leading bird-watching hikes and especially enjoyed birding with his son, Robert Taylor McLean Jr. of the Woodbrook neighborhood of Baltimore County.

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“In the 1970s, he went to Africa twice, and these were trips he always wanted to do,” his son said. “He went to the Mpala Game Preserve in Kenya to see big game and flew over a lake in an airplane so he could observe and study the thousands of storks that had congregated there.”

“He was quite the environmentalist,” Mr. Semans said.

Mr. McLean also visited the Holy Land and made several trips to the British Isles and Europe.

He was a longtime communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, where he taught Sunday school, was a vestryman and a lay Eucharistic minister, and led a rector’s search committee.

“For many years, Teto was a close friend and confidant of mine,” Jeffrey P. Ayres, a partner at Venable LLP and a longtime active member at Redeemer, wrote in an email. “We participated together in a weekly prayer group and numerous small groups at the Church of the Redeemer. Teto was a sweet grounded guy — a mentor and a role model. I will miss him fiercely.”

Mr. McLean “translated his deep faith into actions and civic action,” according to a biographical profile submitted by his family.

He attended the Poor People’s March on Washington in August 1963, where he heard Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “I have a dream” speech. “His children share an early memory of their father bringing home a homeless man to give him a pair of shoes,” according to the profile.

He was a co-author of “Listening Hearts: Discerning Call in Community,” published in 1991, and “Grounded in God: Listening Hearts Discernment for Group Deliberations.” He served as president and a trustee of Listening Hearts Ministries, an “organization that teaches people to listen prayerfully to discern God’s call in their lives,” according to the profile.

“He did not like bragging about himself and was a very modest man,” his son said.

For several decades, he served on the board of St. Paul’s School for Girls and was a member of the investment committee of the endowment fund for the Pickersgill retirement community in West Towson.

A lifelong tennis player, he was still impressing younger opponents with his reflexes at the net, and played just three days before his death.

“And he drove himself to the inside courts at Bare Hills,” his son said.

Mr. McLean enjoyed all varieties of music, and his interests ranged from classical music to opera, gospel and jazz. Some of his favorite artists were Huddie William Ledbetter, more commonly know by his stage name, Lead Belly, Joan Baez and Mahalia Jackson, and “he loved listening to the Beethoven,” his son said.

Intellectual interests included becoming an informal scholar, family members said, of St. John’s Gospel and the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Other interests include biography, history, human origins and physics.

Mr. McLean enjoyed attending his grandchildren’s concerts and soccer and tennis events, and spending family vacations at Delaware resorts such as Fenwick Island and Rehoboth Beach.

The Charlesbrooke resident of the Woodbrook neighborhood of Baltimore County was a member of the Elkridge Club.

Services are private, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans for a celebration-of-life gathering are incomplete.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, the former Patricia Lyman Friend, a retired lawyer, whom he married in 2008; two daughters, Margaret McLean of Baltimore and Helen McLean Heller of Upper Marlboro; a stepson, Alex Friend of Baltimore; a stepdaughter, Meredith Friend of Roanoke, Virginia; a brother, Alex McLean of Jacksonville, Florida; a sister, Alexandra McLane of Wayne, Pennsylvania; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. He was the brother of the late Stewart H. McLean and Frances Winship Proutt. He was married for 50 years to the former Peggy Merrick, who died in 2002.

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