INTERLOCHEN — Hugh Wray McCann, 86, retired science editor for The Detroit News, passed away peacefully on June 13, 2014, surrounded by his loving family. McCann was born a twin March 28, 1928, in Kilkeel, County Down, Northern Ireland.
At 18 he went to Johannesburg, South Africa, and spent five years working as a draftsman. He came to the United States in 1951 and was drafted into the U.S. Army. He became a U.S. citizen while in Korea.
He received an engineering degree from Indiana Technical School and a master’s in journalism from the University of Michigan. He sang with the University of Michigan Mens’ Glee Club. While at U of M McCann worked part time with a team developing a subatomic particle detector invented by Dr. Donald Glaser (1960 Nobel Laureate in Physics).
McCann wrote for the Newsweek Detroit Bureau for seven years before joining the Detroit Free Press in the mid-1960s. He was part of the paper’s editorial staff that shared a Pulitzer for its coverage of the Detroit Race Riots of 1967. McCann also scripted WXYZ-TV’s Emmy-winning “Six Days in July” that chronicled the riots.
McCann left the Free Press in the mid-1970s to join The Detroit News, where he was the science editor until retiring in 1997.
McCann published Utmost Fish (Simon & Schuster, 1965) and co-authored The Search for Johnny Nicholas (Sphere Books Ltd., U.K., 1982, and Arbor Cove Press, 2011) with David C. Smith, editor-at-large, Ward’s Auto World magazine.
He loved Big Band music and jazz, clever conversation, science, writing, reading and history – especially that pertaining to WWI and WWII. Perhaps McCann’s finest attributes were his wit and generosity of spirit. He took a delighted interest in everyone he knew and met, making each person feel uniquely valued.
He was a true gentleman who embodied journalistic ethics, healthy skepticism and boundless curiosity and passed on those traits to his children. He willingly shared his vast knowledge with others, eager to illuminate anyone who wished to listen. It was the passion of this most humble intellectual.