Alexander “Sandy” McAfee, 93, died peacefully on Thursday November 19 at his residence in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. He was born on September 18, 1927 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Sandy attended Roxboro Elementary School, and then Hawken school through 8th grade. A Character Report written by Elmer Sipple during his time at Hawken captured many of his enduring qualities: “There is little doubt regarding the contention that Sandy possesses a definitely superior mentality. His abundant energies, attractive personality, and original ideas have made him a definite leader in his group and the lower school. Sandy is unusually well coordinated and has the ability to perform most ordinary physical feats with ease. Although he possesses wholesome confidence in his athletic ability, reference to his performance is always made with genuine modesty.”
From Hawken, Sandy went on to The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, where he played football and baseball. He stayed in Connecticut to attend Yale University, class of 1950, where he lived in Pierson College and played on the football and rugby teams.
Following Yale, he took a job with Cleveland Cliffs as a surveyor in the underground mines of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Nine months later, he was called to serve in the Korean War. As part of the Marine Corps 1st Marine Division, he fought in combat in Korea from the fall of 1951 until he was released as a First Lieutenant in December 1952. He described his experience there as elemental. “You lived in a trench, and it was thirty below zero and your mind was conditioned to getting the next can of pork and beans. You would trade a bottle of whiskey for a candle to read by—that was a big deal getting that candle. At night, to read, that was so precious.” He received eight medals for his service in Korea: six Air Medals for completing 162 air missions over enemy territory, a Commendation Medal for service on the ground, and one Presidential Unit Citation.
After his service in Korea, he returned to the Cleveland Cliffs home office as an iron ore salesman. It was around this time that he met the love of his life, Marianna “Nina” Clemson, in a lift line on a ski trip to Aspen. They rode the chair up that day and remained together for the run of their lives--56 years in all--until she passed away in 2012.
Realizing he was not one for large company bureaucracy or politics, Sandy left Cleveland Cliffs in 1981 at age 53 to join his old friend Bill Conway at Best Sand Company as president. “It was the greatest thing I ever did,” he once said. “It gave me a completely new lease on life.” He stayed at Best Sand, which became Fairmount Minerals, until he retired as vice chairman in 1990. He was on the board of Fairmount Minerals, The Garick Corp, and Contour Packaging.
Outside of work, Sandy served on the boards of the Rainey Institute and as a trustee of Suomi College and was a founder of the Cleveland Racquet Club.
An avid sportsman, he loved skiing, tennis and platform tennis. An effectual golf swing eluded him. But his favorite avocation was fishing; He spent countless hours on the pristine waters of Lake Muskoka and Deer Lake in Ontario, Canada patiently waiting for small mouth bass to strike.
Sandy was known more for straight talk than tact. He said what he meant and meant what he said. He played piano by ear, sung with the Sleepless Knights, and had a repertoire of limericks that his friends and family enjoyed—over and over.
He is survived by his two daughters, Christie Osmond and Molly Marshall, his son Andy McAfee, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. No immediate memorial service is planned due to COVID-19.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Yale Alumni Fund in memory of Alexander McAfee ’50 at:
Office of Development
P.O. Box 2038
New Haven, CT 06521-2038
Or, through this link:
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