Miriam Rosemary McLean

June 19, 1931 ~ September 29, 2021 (age 90)


Miriam (“Mim”) Rosemary McLean, longtime Seattle resident, passed away quietly in the early morning of September 29, 2021.  Born in Washington, D.C. on June 19, 1931, she grew up in the Georgetown neighborhood; the family eventually moved to Northwest D.C. in 1948.  Graduating High School in 1949, she attended  The Julliard School of Music in New York City for two years, studying composition for piano.  She returned to Washington in 1952, and worked for her father’s automotive repair business.  During those years, Miriam was active in dance, road rallying (she drove a 1952 MG-TD sports car, as did her mother), and acting in numerous plays at Market Playhouse, a small Georgetown theater, owned by her mother, and mutual friend, Mark J Nearman.

She eventually met her husband-to-be, Ralph Todd Snavely, in 1955, while working for her father.  They attended road rallies and races together, including trips to Nassau, Bahamas, for the annual Sports Car Club of America’s Speed Week.  In 1957, they married, and had one son, Craig Snavely McLean, born December 15, 1957.  After divorcing in late-1961, Miriam and Craig moved in with her parents and long-time family friend, Mark.  She resumed college-level courses, eventually graduating w/ a Bachelor’s of Science from Howard University, Washington, D.C., then a Master’s degree from American University, also in D.C., in 1965.

From 1965 thru Summer, 1969, she worked at the National Institute for Health, Bethesda, Maryland, doing research with fireflies, along w/ John D. Buck, a pioneer in such research.  Craig has fond childhood memories of being paid to collect fireflies and their larvae during the summer months!  In late-Summer 1969, Miriam and family moved to Seattle where she pursued, and eventually obtained, her PhD in Zoology at the University of Washington.  Living in this setting, she discovered the joys of hiking, alpine skiing, and gardening.

The job market was tight for newly-minted PhDs in the United States, in 1974.  Following the lead of Mark, who landed a teaching job at the University of New South Wales, Australia, Miriam found a post-doctoral position at Australian National University, Canberra.  The family moved there in October, 1974, and Miriam and son, Craig, lived in Canberra for two years, where Miriam worked on a project involved w/ the physiology of insect eyes.  She and Craig returned to Seattle in August, 1976.

Further career activity for Miriam involved another post-doctoral position with the Medical  College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in 1978-79, and then with the Biological Structures Department at University of Washington, 1980-92.  Here, she conducted research into aging on the cardiovascular system.  In 1992, wanting to slow down a little, she took a part-time position w/ the University’s Primate Center, working in capacity as research librarian, until retirement in October, 1999.

In 1986, Miriam purchased a home of her own in the Wedgwood neighborhood in Northeast Seattle, where she would live for 32 years.  Here, she really “dug into” gardening, and had extensive vegetable and fruit gardens, including a massive Kiwi vine, which gave shade to the back patio.  Mim also enjoyed ice-dancing, and skated in a number of the ice shows, put on by the Seattle Skating Club.  She also joined the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives in 1988, after long-time family friend, Mark, became a monk at the Shasta Abbey, California.  Miriam remained in Seattle, and was active in the North Cascades Priory of this order, eventually becoming a Lay Minister, and made frequent trips to Mount Shasta to visit Mark, and to participate in various retreats and ceremonies held at the Abbey.

Declining health led her to sell her home and move to Queen Anne Manor at the end of 2018, and she moved to Vineyard Park of Puyallup in July, 2021, where she passed away on 9-29-2021.

As per her request, her ashes will be interred at the Shasta Abbey, California.  Any donations in her memory should be made to:  Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, Shasta Abbey, 3724 Summit Drive, Mt. Shasta, CA 96067.

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