James L. McDonald, 94, passed away November 17, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. While maybe not the perfectly scripted rags-to-riches story, his birthplace, at Mike's Creek near Rocky Comfort, Missouri, is the kind of place such stories begin.
Jim McDonald was born and raised in small towns in Missouri and Kansas and was the eldest child of Elbert and Velma McDonald. At a Coffeyville, Kansas soda fountain while in high school, he met the love of his life, Betty Ann Blount, to whom he was married for 72 years. Theirs was a great love story and a great partnership. They successfully raised five children together in Northwest Indiana, Gary and then Crown Point, where they lived for over fifty years. He did what great dads are supposed to do: provided for his family, materially and emotionally, and inspired them to build successful lives of their own, in which he and Betty took great pride. He was generous with all of them but also subscribed to Will Rogers' saying that "the best way to double your money is to fold it in two and put it back in your pocket." Some learned better than others, but all were beneficiaries of his financial wisdom.
He was the first of his family to graduate from college, as an Industrial Engineering major from Oklahoma State University. The first job out of college took him to Pittsburgh and Westinghouse Electric, followed by a move to Gary and US Steel. His industrial life was interrupted by World War Two during which he served in the United States Navy as a Lieutenant commanding a minesweeper. Life in giant factories wasn't for him, so he pursued more entrepreneurial ventures such as owning a supermarket soft goods distribution business in Gary and an independent manufacturer's representation firm covering the heart of the Midwest.
As their children grew and moved on, Jim and Betty relished their frequent travels to the far corners of the earth and were endlessly interested in the people and places they visited. A natural intellectual curiosity was fueled by avid reading, his extensive library full of history, biographies and books on stock market investing, which became a daily passion for many years. They enjoyed a busy social life with close friends and neighbors in Crown Point and loved meeting and getting to know new acquaintances from all walks of life and social strata.
James Leroy McDonald was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Ann Blount McDonald and is survived by his sister Carol McDonnell and husband Floyd of Republic, Missouri and children James McDonald, Jr. and wife Phyllis of Aventura, Florida, Janet McDonald of Madison, Robert McDonald and wife Pam of Madison, David McDonald of Lake Oswego, Oregon and Thomas McDonald and wife Carla of Mill Valley, California. He is also survived by grandchildren James Reuter of Woodstock, Illinois, Sarah McDonald Egan and husband Patrick of Brooklyn, New York, Sally McDonald of Providence, Rhode Island, Jane McDonald of Denver, Colorado, Christopher McDonald, Ryan McDonald and Jackson McDonald of Portland, Oregon, Marisa McDonald of Coral Gables, Florida and great-grandchildren Callie Reuter and Stewart Reuter of Woodstock and Conor Egan and Molly Egan of Brooklyn.
His family is deeply appreciative of the care he received from the nurses and doctors of Dean Clinic, especially Dr. Timothy Lechmaier. Thanks, too, to the staff of St. Mary's Care Center for their extraordinary care and to Fatou Ceesay for her selfless caregiving and friendship in recent years.
A private memorial celebration is planned for family.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to The Jim and Betty McDonald Endowment Fund c/o The Crown Point Community Foundation, 115 South Court St., Crown Point, Indiana 46307 or at www.thecpcf.org.