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Miles McNally of Minneapolis and Nisswa made a good living as an independent insurance agent, and he helped a lot of people while doing it, said his family and community leaders.

McNally, of the McNally, Dunnavan and Lund agency in Minneapolis, died of cancer at his home near Brainerd Aug. 17. He was 86.

McNally, who played leadership roles at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, its Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute and at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, sold life insurance plans for businesses.

He served on the board of Abbott Northwestern and its predecessor for 25 years until about 1990.

Gordon Sprenger of Chanhassen, retired CEO of Abbott Northwestern, said McNally was invaluable in human resources issues and was a devoted consultant on financial matters, even outside of insurance.

"He was very valuable to us as we tried to recruit and retain" staff, Sprenger said. "He had knowledge of the ways of putting compensation and benefits together."

McNally was an active fund raiser for the hospital and its branches, such as the Kenny Institute.

"He was a great consensus builder," said Sprenger. "He was always available."

"He cared deeply about community service," said his son Michael of Minneapolis.

He was a proponent of deferred charitable giving, where people can enjoy their assets during retirement, but then will them to a favorite charity.

"Helping people to give, that was his passion," son Michael said.

Son Tom of Baltimore, Md., who once worked with his father, said he enjoyed explaining techniques to insurance people around the nation.

He was a mathematician by training, and almost became an actuary for an insurance company. But 50 years ago, he found that he would rather sell and solve problems.

McNally once served as president of the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., that trains insurance professionals.

At Westminster Presbyterian, he had been an elder, a deacon and a trustee.

"He was a very keen trustee, and very savvy about things financial," said the Rev. Donald Meisel, retired pastor of Westminster.

He was a graduate of Washburn High School in Minneapolis, and he received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 1943.

After serving as an Army officer during the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, he did graduate work in mathematics in Scotland.

He never entirely retired and enjoyed making furniture at his lake home.

His wife of 52 years, Marjorie, died in 2001.

In addition to sons Tom and Michael, he is survived by his wife, Carolyn Linner of Nisswa and Minneapolis; son Carl of St. Paul; daughter Sally Ahlgren of Mora, Minn.; Carolyn's five children, and 19 grandchildren.

Services have been held.