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9-27-21, Harry “Punky” McClellan, 80

Harry “Punky” McClellan was born on October 9, 1940, in Santa Barbara, California and died on September 27, 2021, in Ojai, California, at the age of 80.

He moved to Ojai at age 15, graduating from Nordhoff High School in 1958, where he was voted “most popular” in his class. He married the love of his life, Susan Riley, in 1961 and went on to have 3 children.

His career with the US Forest Service started after high school with counting condors on his patrol around Ojai and as a firefighter for the Los Padres National Forest. As his career moved upward, it took him to San Marcos Pass Ranger Station, and to the Santa Lucia National Forest in Santa Maria, where he worked with mentor and lifelong friend Bob Righetti.

Punky transferred to the Hume Lake Ranger District in the Sequoia National Forest in 1974, where he was instrumental in developing the Horseshoe Meadow “Hot Shot” crew, a nationally recognized elite group of firefighters that have shaped firefighting into what it is today.

He didn’t stop there; he went on to become the Fire Management Officer of the Sierra National Forest with a special assignment in the Washington office. He was the recipient of the Bronze, Silver, and Golden Smokey Awards for his outstanding role in fire prevention, including “Smokey and the Pros”, a nationally recognized marketing/educational program that melded professional sports teams and athletes with Smokey the Bear and fire prevention messages.

After retiring from civil service in 1990 after 32 years, he opened his own business, The Firehouse, a fire prevention consulting company with his son, Riley McClellan for over 15 years. Punky went on to author two books, including, “Remember…Only You”. He was still involved in fire prevention with the Three Forest Interpretive Group (with good friend Danny Jones), out of Fresno, California until early 2021 when he became ill.

He was truly an icon in the USFS, a man with utmost integrity and dedication to his job. His sense of humor and giving nature is something that cannot be replicated.

His most cherished accomplishments are his three children, Corey, a Family Nurse Practitioner, Riley, his former partner, and Garth, a retired Detective for Gilbert P.D. in Arizona. He adored his 15 grandchildren and great-grandson and loved following baseball, soccer, ice hockey, competitive cheerleading, wrestling, and other sports they were involved in.

Up until his death he was collaborating on another book with his daughter, Corey, on his family’s genealogy. The world has lost an amazing man, husband, father, brother, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

Punky is survived by his wife of 60 years, Susan McClellan, sister, Laura Green, daughter, Coreen “Corey” Arioto, sons, Riley McClellan and Garth McClellan, grandchildren: Scott McClellan, Annie Asmus, Shelby Rettig, Ashley McGuire, Kathryn McClellan, Emma McClellan, Kylie Arioto, Hannah McClellan, Brooklyn McClellan, Colby Arioto, Andrew McClellan, Conner McClellan, Gemma McClellan, Dublin McClellan, Emery McClellan, and great-grandson, Austin Asmus, as well as many loving friends and colleagues.

There will be a Celebration of Life on Sunday, October 24, 2021, 1-5 p.m. at the Green residence, 160 Longhorn Ln., Ojai, Ca. 93023.

The family requests that special memories of Punky be sent to: Susan McClellan, 307 N. Signal St. Ojai, Ca. 93023.

Obit McClellan photo 1Obit McClellan photo 2

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