Donald McLean Jr.
Don McLean is definitely a hometown boy. He was born in a tiny hospital that once existed on Main Avenue, grew up with his brother Billy across the street from the Odd Fellows Cemetery at Alturas and Clemmons, graduated from Fallbrook High School and spent his working career as a firefighter serving here in Fallbrook.
“I love Fallbrook history,” Don explained. That is why he volunteers so much time and effort to support the goals of the Fallbrook Historical Society. Don is a member of the Board of Directors and is responsible for the facilities at the Heritage Center and the Reche Schoolhouse. He sits on the Asset and Administrative committees and curates the Gem and Mineral collection at the Heritage Center. Don’s grandparents spent most of their lives amassing the collection and generously put it on display at the
Heritage Center. Don’s late father, Donald McLean Sr., remembered finding his first geode as a child on one of their rock hounding trips to the Mojave Desert. The gem and mineral collection includes specimens from all over the world and is quite popular with Museum visitors.
“Fallbrook was a great place to grow up,” said Don. “No one locked their doors and if you got in trouble your folks would know about it before you got home.” One “getting in trouble” story concerned a certain Halloween during his high school years. There was a friendly rivalry between the Fallbrook, Bonsall and Rainbow boys. Don borrowed his father’s pickup and installed standing plywood sheets in the back to act as cover when firing. Then he dug up the eggs that had been buried weeks before so they
would ripen into stinky ammo. He picked up the Fallbrook guys and they parked at the Halloween battleground on Main Street to wait for the Bonsall and Rainbow armies. Just then the Sheriff pulled alongside them and delivered a lecture about the dangers of throwing objects from a moving car and other Halloween pranks. As the Sheriff was warning the Fallbrook boys, a cabbage flew out of the darkness where the rivals were hiding, and smashed into the police cruiser. The Sheriff stopped mid-sentence, bellowed “get ‘em,” and drove away. The battle was on! That is the kind of small town history that is delightful to record and makes Fallbrook a special place.
The Fallbrook Historical Society is recognizing Don McLean as Member of the Year for his dedication to preserving and sharing our history, yet Don has served Fallbrook in many additional capacities. He is on the Board of Trustees for the Masons, Board Chairman of the Rainbow Girls, and is on the scholarship committee. He is active in the Fallbrook High School Alumni Association and works on their fundraisers. He has represented North San Diego County Fire Departments in support of the annual Burn Run event that raises funds for the Burn Institute. Don spent his career with the North County Fire Protection District in Fallbrook, retiring as Captain. While responding to emergency calls, he shared happy moments when a life was saved, and shared the grief with parents who lost a baby to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. “I went to school to be a history teacher and ended up being a firefighter,” he said. “I’m pretty glad about the way things turned out.”