In 1950, son William L. IV said in an interview, Mr. McLean joined the Bulletin and worked in nearly every department before moving into senior management in the 1960s.
In the 1970s, when Evening was dropped from the title, he struggled with at least two major forces in Philadelphia newsgathering.
First, folks who previously learned of the day's events from newspapers read in the late afternoon and early evening now began to get their headlines from television.
Second, The Inquirer, in second place for decades, became a nationally respected publication with reporters and editors attracted from around the nation to produce Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigations.
After the first money-losing years in decades, Mr. McLean sold the Bulletin to Charter Media Co., an arm of an oil company.
In an Inquirer interview published on the last day that the Bulletin was published, Jan. 29, 1982, Mr. McLean said, "To this day, I feel we really did a fine job and gave the public a straight story. That's the greatest source of satisfaction I have."
He recalled that "when I first started out, if you went into a subway car or a railroad commuter train, people were reading a newspaper. Today that isn't so. There are so many things that contributed, the whole schmear, if you will."
In a 1992 Inquirer interview, timed to the 10th anniversary of the newspaper's closing, Mr. McLean said:
"It would have been most extraordinary to have been able to do something that would have allowed the Bulletin to move in a different direction than where the times were taking it."
Beginning in 1975, his son said, Mr. McLean developed a second family-owned business, Independent Publications Inc., in Bryn Mawr.
That 1992 Inquirer interview with Mr. McLean reported that the firm then consisted of three small daily newspapers - in Nashua, N.H.; DuBois, Pa.; and Geneva, N.Y. - as well as two weeklies in Brookville, Pa., and a printing plant in South Jersey. The website for the firm shows more extensive holdings today.
Mr. McLean was chief executive officer of the firm until 2001, his son said, and chairman of the board until 2010.
Mr. McLean was a part of the family foundation, the McLean Contributionship, since 1954, was its chairman from 1984 until 2010, and served as a trustee and director until his death.
In 1964, he was president of what is now the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, served several years as a trustee of its foundation, and was recognized with a PNA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.
He helped lead the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
He was a member of the Merion Cricket Club, the vestry of the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr, and the Blooming Grove Hunting and Fishing Club in Pike County.
Besides his son, Mr. McLean is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; son Warden; daughters Lisa and Sandra McLean and H. Brooke Katzenbach; a sister; and five grandchildren. A daughter, Laura, died in 1965.
A memorial service was set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Church of the Redeemer, 230 Pennswood Rd., Bryn Mawr.
Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or email@example.com.