While he was chief financial officer at Bank of Boston, Alan L. McKinnon commonly ate lunch in the employee cafeteria instead of the executive dining room.
“He enjoyed it,” said his son Alan Jr. of Marblehead. “His attitude was, ‘If you want to know what’s going on in your own shop, you have to eat in the cafeteria.’ ”
The executive offices were not Mr. McKinnon’s home throughout his career. He started out as an accountant with New England Merchants Bank and worked for a couple of other companies before joining Bank of Boston as comptroller in the mid-1960s.
Mr. McKinnon, who stayed with the bank more than 20 years, died of renal failure May 15 in Massachusetts General Hospital. He was 84 and lived in Milton.
“This may sound odd, but Dad loved his work,” his son said in a eulogy at Mr. McKinnon’s memorial service last month. “His advice to folks who complained about their jobs was this: ‘Life is too short to do something you hate every day.’ His approach to work was that it was a different learning experience every day.”
As part of his work, Mr. McKinnon traveled widely and often, which he loved, his son said.
“He would say, ‘If you want to learn about your country, read the foreign press,’ which dovetailed with another of his adages: ‘If you want to learn about yourself, find out what other people are saying about you,’ ” his son said.
After returning home, Mr. McKinnon always told his family about places he visited and people he met.
“It was this enthusiasm for visiting different places and meeting new, different people that had an impact on us,” his son said. “As a result, my brothers and I have collectively spent time in close to 50 different countries in our business careers.”
Business associates that Mr. McKinnon worked with around the world often visited him at the Bank of Boston offices. When they did, his son said, “we never knew who was going to be at the dinner table.”
Born in 1928, Mr. McKinnon grew up in West Roxbury.
His father, a dentist, dropped the letter A in the surname MacKinnon to make it McKinnon, in the belief that Bostonians would be more likely to see a dentist who was Irish than one who was Scottish, according to Mr. McKinnon’s son.
“Despite the Irish-sounding name,” he said in his eulogy, “Dad was truly a Scot.”
Beginning in 1946, Mr. McKinnon served in the Navy for two years and afterward attended Boston University, where he studied business administration. He also graduated with a master’s in taxation from Bentley College.
Mutual friends introduced Mr. McKinnon to Eleanor Hannigan while both were in college. They married in 1955.
“He was a wonderful man, there was no doubt about it,” she said. “We had a very nice life.”
When Mr. McKinnon was not working, his son said, spending time with his wife and children was always his main focus.
“His hobby was really his family,” he said.
Mr. McKinnon preferred to vacation close to home, on Cape Cod.
“He never wanted to travel farther than Brewster with the family,” he said. “Traveling far away was for business.”
In Brewster, Mr. McKinnon enjoyed sailing, quahogging, and entertaining friends.
“He was very low-key, and very unpretentious,” his son said. “And he was a very fun guy.”
Mr. McKinnon retired from Bank of Boston in 1989, after having served as chief financial officer since 1980, and before that as senior vice president and executive vice president.
“Alan has been a major contributor to the bank’s growth, and his financial expertise has always been of great value to the corporation,” Ira Stepanian, who was then chairman of the bank, told the Globe upon Mr. McKinnon’s retirement.
In addition to his wife and son Alan Jr., Mr. McKinnon leaves two other sons, Brian of Martinez, Ga., and Ian of Columbia, Md.; a sister, Helen Adams of Natick; and seven grandchildren.
Burial was in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Roxbury.
Before and after he retired, Mr. McKinnon was involved in many organizations. He was president of the Treasurers’ Club of Boston and of the area chapter of the Tax Executives Institute. He was treasurer of Milton Hospital, treasurer and board member of the Milton Hoosic Club, and involved in his church, St. Mary of the Hills Church in Milton.
“He believed that if you were fortunate in health, family, and finances, you step up and give back,” his son said. “That’s how he lived his life.”
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