WINDHAM – The louder a car’s engine, the more Earl McLellan enjoyed it.

“His favorite was probably his ’64 Chevrolet Super Sport,” said Joan Kirk, who described herself as the “lady in his life. “For an 81-year-old man, when he got into that car, it was like he was 18.”

Mr. McLellan died Wednesday at age 81.

Kirk said Mr. McLellan had a quiet side but was known to do some funny things.

“He could do devilish things in a quiet way,” she said.

Mr. McLellan, who was bald, had a collection of “crazy hats.” One had a fake ponytail hanging from the back; another made it appear that he had a crewcut.

“We’d go out and God only knows what he’d have on for a hat when he came out of the car,” she said.

Mr. McLellan was a machinist for 40 years at Saunders Brothers. During that time, he built his own log chalet, where he lived for several years.

He was passionate about classic automobiles and owned three vintage cars and two trucks over the course of his life.

He won many awards for displaying the vehicles at car shows and shared them with the community.

“We used to go to (area) nursing homes, and they’d bring out the patients. He’d wheel them around to show them the cars,” Kirk said.

Occasionally, he’d drive the cars in parades as well. Kirk said he liked to rev the engine to “deafen” the crowd.

“He just had a good time,” she said.

Even in his later years, Mr. McLellan enjoyed the open road. He owned a motorcycle for years but bought a Harley Davidson when he was 70.

“He always wanted a Harley because he liked the way they sound,” she said.

Mr. McLellan’s daughter Bonnie Lannigan described her father as a quiet but fun guy who had a warm spot in his heart for young children. She remembered returning home one day from school, upset that her teacher was leaving.

“I just climbed up in his lap and he just held me. He kept telling me it would be OK,” Lannigan said.

She said her father was kind and comforting. When difficult situations arose, he would say, “Well, that’s the way the mop flops.”

“He was a man with charisma,” Kirk said.

Even when receiving treatment for colon cancer that had spread to his lungs and liver, he won the hearts of his nurses.

Other patients would be called by name for treatment, Kirk said.

“When he’d go into the cancer center, they’d come out and wrap their arms around him and kiss him and say, ‘C’mon honey, let’s go.’“

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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