Jeffrey David McClelland
Jeffrey David McClelland was born March 31, 1959 in Saginaw, Michigan, but grew up in Racine, Wisconsin. His father’s work for S.C. Johnson Wax took the family to Brazil from 1970 to 1974, giving Jeff the opportunity to learn Portuguese and to develop his interest in traveling and learning about new places and cultures.
Jeff attended Northwestern University on an ROTC scholarship and graduated in 1980 with a degree in Chemical Engineering and a commission in the United States Navy. He went to flight school in Pensacola and continued his training in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he also served as a Flight Instructor. He then was stationed at Moffitt Field, CA, flying P-3 anti-submarine warfare planes. His numerous deployments took him to places such as Alaska, Japan, Africa, and the Middle East. Jeff left active duty in 1986 but remained in the Naval Reserves until his 20-year retirement as a Commander.
After receiving his MBA from the Stanford Business School, Jeff began his commercial aviation career as a Financial Analyst with American Airlines. After three years, he moved to Northwest Airlines, where he worked for nearly a decade in senior management positions in both finance and operations. In 1999, Jeff was hired by Phoenix-based America West Airlines as Senior Vice President of Operations to lead the turnaround of the airline’s significant operating challenges. He was named Chief Operating Officer the day before September 11, 2001 and continued to lead the airline’s operational recovery in the wake of that event. He was instrumental in the merger of America West and US Airways in 2005 and afterwards assumed a new position as Executive Vice President/Chief Administrative Officer with responsibility for finance, legal affairs, human resources, labor relations, properties and facilities, and two wholly-owned subsidiary operations. He also proudly served as a board member of the Arizona Science Center.
Jeff was a brilliant executive but liked nothing better than to be out among the airline’s operations. He especially loved all things associated with flight and had the highest regard for the aviation professionals in the flight center. With that in mind, the airline also renamed its flight center building in Phoenix the Jeffrey D. McClelland Flight Center.
Upon Jeff’s passing at age 47 after a four year fight with cancer, the airline issued the following statement:
“Jeff’s contributions, which are too numerous to list, went well beyond any job title. He brought insight, depth and vision to our airline and he did so with an unparalleled work ethic and the utmost integrity. He was the embodiment of leadership by example, setting a standard that drove those of us who worked with him to be better executives and better people. Jeff dealt with his disease the same way he approached every other challenge: with resolve and a quiet determination. He never complained or asked for help, choosing instead to keep his battle private while continuing to come to work and contribute well beyond what any reasonable person would expect.”
Above all, Jeff loved his family—his wife and their four boys; his parents and his two brothers, and all his extended family.