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John Henry McLennan, 80, of Holden, Missouri, passed away suddenly at home on Monday, July 24, 2023
He was born in Inkster, Michigan, October 17, 1942 to John Henry and Mildred (Carder) McLennan. The family moved to Cherry Hill/Plymouth area when he was four and lived there until he married. Living outside Detroit and his dad working for Ford, he was always into cars and had lots of stories. His first car – a ’32 Ford, he named Wild Child.
In 1963 he married Arlene (Sahlsten) and had three children: Steve (1964), Christine (Chris 1968), and John (1971).
John’s first career was with the Hanover Insurance Company (1964-1983) and trained in Property and Casualty Claims. John quickly learned the business and was promoted many times until he was chosen to head the Kansas City Branch office, becoming the Hanover’s youngest Branch Manager ever.
The whole family became very involved in horses and showed in the Golden Circle Horse Show Circuit for eight years, making many lifelong friends and winning lots of trophies and ribbons.
John moved from Blue Springs to Oak Grove in 1979, and in 1980 married Kay. She introduced him to Motown and all of the ‘60s music. He made her listen to Country and they both quickly found they loved it all.
In 1983, a friend and neighbor approached him about joining him in the home building business. He jumped at the chance to do something different. From 1985-1988, they owned the Oak Grove Lumberyard. In 1988, John started his own construction company and his sons, Steve and John, worked with him until he retired in August 2010.
John had a passion for building barns, houses, additions or home remodels. John and Kay had a wonderful 22 years in Oak Grove, becoming charter members of the Oak Grove Square Dance Club, where they met their best friends, the Grahams and Bakers.
In 1996 John and Kay bought the James and Florence Sechrest Farm between Pittsville and Holden. When they bought the Sechrest farm, Kay decided to sell her 1970 Mustang Mach 1 and the proceeds went to buy cattle for the farm. But that was only fair since John sold his Yamaha motorcycle the first year they were married to buy her a dishwasher.
After John retired from construction in 2010 he began buying and restoring classic cars in his shop, going to car shows and cruise nights with Kay. Through the cars, they made some new and lasting friendships. John quickly connected to other car guys in Holden and met them for lunch twice a week for many years. We have to say John left this world “with a tool in his hand,” as the day after he passed, UPS delivered another car part.
A life well lived for sure. There seemed to be nothing he couldn’t build but that’s because if he didn’t know, he would do the research and figure it out. He was a strong believer and supporter of education and continuing education, especially business courses if you were going to run a business. He had one year of college at Eastern Michigan University and regretted not finishing, but we can’t imagine that he would have had a better life if he had.
As for the family, he was definitely the center of our universe. We are grateful for all he taught us, always available to us for advice and guidance; and he supported all of us in our endeavors. He told us he loved us and was proud of us. He taught us the way to go mostly by example and that’s why we’ll be able to continue to thrive, but it won’t be quite as fun for a while. His loss brings us all closer and we will continue to honor him in the way we live the rest of our lives.
As a husband, he was a great companion, partner and buddy; so smart, fun, interesting and humorous. We are all so grateful for our life with him. Besides wife Kay, of the home, John leaves sister Dee (Dick) Smit of Ann Arbor, MI, and brother Ron (Cyndi) McLennan of Manchester, MI; children Steve (Holden), John (Pittsburg, MO), and Christine Smith and her fiancé Kenny Sands (Oak Grove). Grandchildren include: Kristan Frame, Zach Gunter, J.C. McLennan, John McLennan, Megan McLennan, Mathew Smith, Logan McLennan and Emilie McLennan. Great grandsons include: Owen and Jack Frame, Jase, Bearic and Henry McLennan and two on the way.
As John had requested, there will be no public memorial service. The family will have a private graveside gathering at the Holden Cemetery. Cremation was performed by Williams Funeral Chapel, Holden. Donations in John’s memory (checks only) should be sent to: Holden R-III School Foundation, 1612 S. Main, Holden, MO 64040 816-732-5568.


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