Wallace Donald McLean of Morris Lane, executive vice-president of The Morris Plan Company of New York, the largest industrial banking institution in America, was born in New Hampshire of Scotch parents. He is the great grandson of John McLean of New York, who was a prominent public citizen and one of the founders of The Bank of Manhattan.
Mr. McLean’s early life was spent in Washington, D. C. He attended the public schools and later prepared for college at the Friends’ School of that city. From there, he entered Princeton University, graduating with an A.B. degree, in the class of 1896. He then concentrated on the study of law at Columbian University, (now George Washington University), in Washington, and in 1898 received his degree of LL.B.
Mr. McLean took an active part in college life while at Princeton. He was one of the organizers and the secretary of both the Princeton Whist Club and the Princeton Camera Club. He was also a member of the Glee and Banjo Organization, and Cap and Gown Club, and was Censor Orator of his class.
At the time of the Spanish American War, Mr. McLean entered government service. He was in the Office of Loans and Currency, in the United States Treasury Department. The young executive became chief of a division in the Bond Department, and was ultimately selected as one of three to balance the War Loan. While serving in the Treasury Department, Mr. McLean received a commission from the State of New York to compile a record of all persons from this state who enlisted in the navy in the Civil War.
In 1900 he was admitted to practice law in the Supreme Court for the District of Columbia and later, in the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. His practice was largely confined to corporation law.
Mr. McLean has a wide acquaintance with public men, and he has been active in many Capitol functions. He was chairman of the Intercollegiate Committee in the Inauguration of President McKinley; in charge of the organization of Taft Clubs during the campaign of Taft’s nomination for president; and a member of the Republican staff in Chicago, and in the Publicity Department during Taft’s campaign for presidency in 1908. He was also a close personal friend of the late Chief Justice.
He was also friendly with another president, Woodrow Wilson, and retained this close friendship for many years. As secretary for the Princeton Alumni Association for the District of Columbia and the Southern States, Mr. McLean was in charge of President Wilson’s inaugural dinner, which was confined to the members of the Princeton Graduating Class of 1879.
Mr. McLean has always been interested in matters of a patriotic nature, being both secretary and vice-president for several years of the District of Columbia Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was also one of the founders and a member of the board of directors of the University Club of Washington.
Mr. McLean left the Capitol in the spring of 1913 to assist in the organization of a law department in the United States Express Company, and was appointed assistant to the president of that corporation.
In 1914 the United States Express Company disposed of its interests to other express companies, and Mr. McLean resigned at the close of the year to assist in the organization and become the first general manager of The Morris Plan Company of New York.
Subsequently he became vice-president., and today is executive head of the institution which is the largest of its kind in America.
This banker has also devoted considerable time to the organization of similar institutions in different parts of the country, and is an officer and member of the boards of directors of many Morris Plan Banks and allied corporations. He is also a member of the board of governors of The Morris Plan Bankers’ Association.
Financial assistance to the masses has always made an appeal to Mr. McLean, and The Morris Plan was the pioneer in extending credit based on character and earning power. The demonstration of the soundness of the principle and of its usefulness to the community has caused the creation of hundreds of banks similar in nature; also in the principle being advocated through the personal loan departments of national and state banks.
He has resided in Westchester for the last sixteen years, living both in Bronxville and later in Rye, and finally selecting as his permanent residence the attractive Georgian Colonial home on Morris Lane, formerly occupied by Frederick Pope.
Mr. McLean is a member of the Board of Directors of the Middle Heathcote Association, and a member also of several clubs in New York City and Westchester County.
In 1915, he married Miss Ada Rorick McConnell of Michigan. They have a son and daughter, Wallace W. McLean, age fifteen, and Catherine E. McLean, age thirteen. The boy is now preparing for Princeton while Catherine is a student at Winbrook School in White Plains.
Source: Scarsdale Inquirer, August 28, 1931.