Merrill F. McLane, 91, a retired Central Intelligence officer who served overseas and in Washington, D.C., died peacefully in his boyhood home in Rockport, Massachusetts on September 14, 2008, surrounded by his family.
Mr. McLane, who lived in Bethesda, Maryland, was born in Rockport, Massachusetts. He was an enlisted man in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1934 to 1938. In World War II, as a Marine rifle platoon leader in the operation to retake Guam from the Japanese, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He retired as colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves.
He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1942 and was active in alumni affairs. In 1976, he received a master’s degree in cultural anthropology from American University and went among the Gypsies in Spain. This resulted in three books, the first of which was Proud Outcasts, the Gypsies of Spain. He also attended the Naval War College in 1956-57.
A mountaineer, he was co-author of a climbing guide to the Grand Tetons, and took part in the rescue of a parachutist on top of Devil’s Tower, Wyo., in 1941. He played ice hockey until he was 78, and continued to skate with his grandchildren.
In Rockport, he was a founder of the Rights-of-Way to the Sea Committee, designated by the state of Massachusetts as a model for its other coastal communities to follow to protect access along the oceanfront. He is the author of “The Adventure of Blueberrying on Cape Ann, Massachusetts.”
He was a former member of the Alpine Club and a fifty-year member of the Thoreau Society. A longtime Unitarian, he supported the opening of its first church in Honolulu.
Survivors include his wife, Helene, a native of Louvain, Belgium; his daughter, Karen McLane of Kensington, Maryland; his stepdaughter, Natalia DeWitt of Bethesda, and four grandchildren. He is predeceased by his son, Bruce Merrill McLane, in 2005.
A celebration of his life will be held in the First Universalist Church of Rockport, MA, on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Arrangements by the Burgess & Mackey Funeral Home, Rockport, MA.