E.W. (Mac, Dad, Pops) McDonald was born May 28, 1926, in Dry Prong, Louisiana, and died October 30, 2021, in Orlando, Florida at the age of 95. E.W. was known as someone who treated friends as family, and strangers as friends.
His father, Ethel Weathersby McDonald, had a stroke when he was 13, and his mother, Lonie McKay McDonald, raised him and his brother, Chester. They scraped by, eating what they raised and selling what they could. As a teenager, E.W. developed what would be a lifelong interest in electronics and in genealogy. Toward the end of World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy, seeing action at Okinawa and other areas, on a Flotilla Flagship. As the war ended, his ship led a flotilla to clear mines from the Sea of Japan and the harbor near Hiroshima, so that the hospital ship Consolation (later the S.S. Hope) could get aid to Hiroshima to attend to casualties. After clearing the harbor, E.W. and a small group of his shipmates became the first westerners to enter Hiroshima itself.
In 1947, he met and married Mina Louise Davis, of Pineville, LA. He attended college and completed his master’s degree in physics from Louisiana State University. As the space race gained momentum in the United States, E.W. was able to secure employment working for North American Aviation (North American Rockwell) in Columbus, Ohio, from 1962 until 1969, and for Martin-Marietta in Orlando, Florida until his retirement in the 1980s. He had a distinguished career designing lenses for satellites and missile systems. He also made time for, and thoroughly enjoyed, teaching courses in physics and mathematics at Louisiana State University, Ohio University, and Orange Technical College.
E.W. welcomed any, and all, additions to the family, no matter how distantly they might be related. In addition to his career in aerospace, he enjoyed working tirelessly on family histories and genealogies for his own and many other families. His book, The LaCroix Descendants, 1611-1991, from France via Quebec to Central Louisiana, remains a highly regarded reference book for many connected families of Louisiana descent, as do mimeographs and other works he developed over his seventy years of genealogical research. He had a phenomenal memory and was able to place thousands of individuals in a kind of genealogical map, often helping people find how they fit into a larger family picture. In the last 20 years of his life. He used DNA results to help people who never knew their birth circumstances find their genealogical links to family.
In addition to the work he accomplished, E.W. was known for his kind and generous nature, his empathy for people and animals, and a desire to treat everyone with respect and decency. E.W. had a serious religious nature, though he tended to keep his beliefs to himself unless asked directly. He was raised as a Primitive Baptist and became very active in churches in Ohio and Florida, serving as deacon for several years.
E.W. and Mina had five children: James Keith (Paz), Mary Frances (Ralph), Daniel Gary (Pat), Martha Anne (deceased, Ron), and Elizabeth Adelaide. He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers and a sister, his wife, Mina, second wife, Margaret, and his daughter, Martha. He is also survived by two of Margaret’s children, Mark and Clay Earnest; three nephews, Chester, Marvin, and Harold McDonald; as well as 16 grandchildren; many great grandchildren; and hundreds more distant relatives.
Visitation will be held Friday, November 5, 6-8 p.m. The memorial service will be held 10:30 a.m., Saturday, November 6th at Collison Carey Hand Funeral Home, 1148 East Plant Street, Winter Garden, FL 34787.
The family asks that everyone, out of respect for E.W., wear a face mask and take proper Covid-19 precautions in accordance with CDC guidelines at both the visitation and memorial service.