TSH: City Commissioner A.A.‘Mac’ McClanahan found dead

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Today in Sanford History (TSH), A.A. “Mac” McClanahan, who served as a Sanford City Commissioner off and on for 30 years, was found dead in his home. He was 74. It was April 19, 2000.

A native of Minneola, McClanahan was still in high school when he joined the U.S. Navy in 1943, beginning a lifetime of public service.

In 1953, he was assigned to the Sanford Naval Air Station. He served in 3 wars and retired from the Navy as a lieutenant commander in 1970.

McClanahan was elected to the city commission in 1971 and served until 1978, when he was defeated by a 2-1 margin. He ran again in 1982 and 1984, losing both times, but won again in 1986.

In 1994, McClanahan was defeated by upstart candidate Kerry Lyons by 7 votes. He would defeat Lyons in 1998 and was representing District 3 at the time of his death.

McClanahan would sometimes joke that he lost 5 elections, but he would note that he also won 5 elections.

“He never worried about how his vote would impact the next election,“ his son Mick McClanahan told the Sanford Herald at the time of his father‘s death. “He always did what he thought was right.“

For all of his time on the city commission, however, McClanahan is probably best remembered for his charity work.

During a 10-year period beginning in 1983, McClanahan oversaw the construction of 160 homes for poor families in the Oviedo area as the director of the Seminole Self Reliant Housing program. Before Habitat for Humanity developed a nationwide presence, McClanahan‘s nonprofit was recruiting volunteers to build homes. To be eligible for a house families were required to put in sweat equity as a down payment.

Over the years McClanahan also collected thousands of old bikes that he would fix up and give to needy children at Christmas time.

At the time of his death, McClanahan was suffering from heart and stomach problems, his family told the Herald. The pain was so bad at the end that he missed two months of city commission meetings before taking his own life.

“He was not happy about not being able to be there,” Mick McClanahan told the Herald.

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