Richard Aris McIntosh

Col. Richard Aris McIntosh, USAF (Ret.) passed away at his home in Lakeside, Oregon on Aug. 13, 2017. Known to most as “Mac” he leaves behind a lasting impact on his nation, community and family.

Born on March 24, 1953, in Ashiya, Japan, the son of Master Sgt. Gale McIntosh, USAF (Ret) and Mrs. Sachiko (Uchida) McIntosh. When his father retired from a 23-year Air Force career in 1968, the family relocated to Coos Bay, Ore. He graduated from Marshfield High School in 1971 as the co-valedictorian and state champion hurdler.


Mac graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1975 as an All-American and captain of the track & field team, and anchored a world and American record-setting 240-yard shuttle hurdle relay team. Following graduation, he married Linnea Wright, his high-school sweetheart, and then completed a master’s degree in history from Indiana University in 1976.

Fighter aviation and command provided anchors for a 30-year career as an Air Force officer. He flew F-15 Eagles through skies over Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Virginia, Saudi Arabia and Hawaii.
Mac retired in 2005, and returned home to the Coos Bay, Oregon area – the last of 14 moves around the world. He and Linnea worked side by side to build their dream home on Lakeside, Oregon, while Mac integrated into the community as a member of the local Rotary club and as head track & field coach for Marshfield High. At Marshfield, he built a world-class program around one team rule “Never let your teammates down” and three standards for excellence: Live with Integrity, Compete with Class, and Add to the Legacy.

In 2015, Mac was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He was given a one percent chance he would survive longer than five months. Mac fought his diagnosis for two years before the disease took his life. Of course no one was surprised that he was able to fight as long as he was. Whatever you knew Mac McIntosh to be, you also knew he was far from ordinary. Mac McIntosh was more than the high school valedictorian, track coach, or cancer patient. Mac McIntosh was my dad, and the greatest fighter pilot in the world. How do I know he was the greatest? He told me so.

Being raised by a fighter pilot isn’t the same as being raised by any other mortal man. Being raised by a fighter pilot is like being raised by Zeus himself. Do you know the difference between a fairy tale and a fighter pilot’s story? A fairy tale begins “Once upon a time,” a fighter pilot’s story begins “No sh--, this really happened.”

My dad could break an apple in half with his bare hands, juggle anything you threw at him, split logs with a single swing, turn any gathering into a dance party, and always, always, always, grill a steak to perfection. Dad would walk into a room and you could feel the air leave it as people caught their breath. He walked with the confidence of a man who could handle anything life threw at him.

My dad was the strongest, handsomest, fastest man I knew. He could drive a car like a stunt man, surf like a local, water ski like a pro, and of course, fly a fighter jet like... the world’s greatest fighter pilot.

Mac McIntosh was a lifelong learner and teacher. When he spoke with you, you felt as though you were the only one in the room. He was a husband, a father, and a grandfather. His loss is immense and felt on a daily basis.

Rachael McIntosh Tuller, daughter, USAFA Class of 2005  | Checkpoints Magazine, December 2017

 


 

Mac McIntosh died this morning at home following a lengthy fight with Stage IV Pancreatic cancer. He spent the last month of his life surrounded by family and always with the steadfast support of his wife and partner of almost 50 years – Linnea.

He lived life according to a philosophy articulated by Vince Lombardi, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

His life was rich as a result – filled with joy and the fulfillment of dreams for himself and those around him who he supported – whether as a father, a coach, an Air Force officer or a friend. His was a life well lived – and he leaves with no regrets.

He leaves behind a hole in our hearts and we will greatly miss him.

A Celebration of Life will be held in Coos Bay, Oregon in the coming weeks – details will be forthcoming once we make final arrangements.

The family is truly grateful for everyone’s prayers and support throughout this journey. It has been hard, but is made easier knowing that we have such wonderful people around us – truly a testament to a great man’s impact on the world.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you please consider making a donation to support his final dream - Tribute Hall

 

Photos

   
   
Remembrances

Remembering my dad who passed last year around this time. This is a pic of him from around the same age as I am now – he was what I would call a pure Alpha male.


In his final days we spoke at length, and he recorded a lot of audio that will make it's way into a book (it's on my to-do list). One of his late-life self-reflections was of a certain self-centered approach to his life – he focused on being Mac the Magnificent – whether that meant being the best student, athlete, fighter-pilot or track coach. He knew this had a certain impact on the family who wanted more – and he felt bad about that, but he didn't regret it. He cared deeply about self-improvement for Mac first, and in his mind the well-being of our family naturally followed.

The way I've characterized this to myself in the past have run the typical range of "dad was selfish", "dad wasn't around much", etc. If we're being honest, there was an element of "pity-party" that went into it. 

But as I'm getting closer to 40, I respect this in ways I never did before. He was the center of gravity for our family, and the frame that we operated within. He didn't engage in things that weren't of interest to his personal agenda – that's just how it went. But by setting the example of personal excellence, he brought us along with him – in ways that NEVER would have happened if he'd just talked about excellence and not lived it. I don't think he was selfish – he was focused on personal excellence – and people felt that glow when they were around him because he exuded the power and confidence that comes from that pursuit of excellence.

He wasn't perfect – no one is. But this picture is the way I will always remember him – a powerful man, physically and mentally, with such a deep love for the success of his family and those in his orbit that he never let himself slip in his personal journey for excellence. My respect for him has grown tremendously.

– Rex McIntosh, August 2018


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