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McDonald, James


McDonald, James Charles Completed his life's journey and entered eternal life on November 12, 2016, at the age of 91. Jim was born in Marshfield, WI, on September 18, 1925, to John Stephen and Margaret Van Hecke McDonald. He attended Sacred Heart Parochial School and Marshfield High School. His life of service began when, at the age of 17, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and saw action in the South Pacific during World War II. Upon returning home after the war, he attended St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI, and St. John's Seminary in Little Rock, AR, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1954, then attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and received a Graduate Degree (J.C.L.) in Canon Law, after which he served the Diocese of La Crosse from 1958 to 1969 as Vice Chancellor, Head Judge of the Matrimonial Tribunal, and Founder and First President of the Diocesan Priests' Senate, followed by a term as Vice President of the Canon Law Society of America. Jim came to Milwaukee in 1969 and joined Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., where he worked in the Corporate Planning and Field Finance Departments before becoming an Executive Officer and Vice President in the Corporate Office. After his retirement from Northwestern in 1991, he devoted his time to volunteer activities and later, in 1996, co-founded McDonald & Schaefer, a company that continues to serve non-profit organizations in development planning.

In 1970, Jim married Rita, the love of his life, and together they created a home where family and friends were warmly welcomed and where those who needed help found it. They spent many years visiting and caring for elderly relatives and friends, volunteering in the community, and pursuing a pattern of life-long learning. They enjoyed traveling together and spent many happy hours at their Door County retreats. Theirs was a marriage made in heaven.

During his years in Milwaukee, Jim served as Chairman of the American Heart Association of Wisconsin, the Donors Forum of Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Area Private Industry Council. He was Vice Chairman of the Family Foundation and a Director of the Milwaukee County Historical Society, the Alexian Village Retirement Community, and the Hales Corners Library Board. He served as a volunteer and fund raiser for various non-profit community and religious organizations. He served as a member of the National Advisory Council of the Marshfield Clinic; as Vice Chairman of the Assisi Community Organization; and as a Trustee of the Ongoing Community Support Fund of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. Other service included being a member of the Board of Governors of the American Heart Association of Wisconsin, the Peter Favre Forum, the President's Council of Cardinal Stritch College, and an Honorary Board Member of the La Farge Lifelong Learning Institute. His volunteer work also included the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee, the Task Force on Family Violence, and the establishment of the Health Education Center of Wisconsin, to which he devoted countless hours. In 1979, Jim received the Grand Award from the American Heart Association of Wisconsin, and in 1994, the Outstanding Leadership Award. He and Rita co-chaired the 1983 Heart Ball, which set a new record for fund-raising for research. An annual Heart Association Award for Corporate Leadership is made in his name. He was given the Service Above Self Award by the Milwaukee Downtown Rotary Club in 1996, and in that same year received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Cardinal Stritch College in recognition of his community service. In 1997, the Wisconsin Region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews presented its Human Relations Award to him in recognition of his lifetime dedication to community service. Jim will be remembered by his many friends and colleagues as a singularly kind, gentle, unassuming, honest, happy man, whose integrity was an example to all who knew him. A light has gone out in the world with his passing.

Survivors include Rita, his wife and best friend and caregiver; his beloved "baby" brother Philip (Leta); his sister Mary Gorzalski (Edward); 18 nieces and nephews and their families; and many relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and by his brother John (Margaret). Jim's family is deeply grateful to Dr. Monica O'Sullivan and Dr. Anthony Ziebert for their expert diagnostic skills and deeply compassionate care over so many years. In his final illness, Jim was blessed to have excellent services at Froedtert Hospital, and the care subsequently provided to him at St. Camillus Hospice by Cindy, Sandy, and the Skilled Nursing Staff went far beyond the call of duty and truly exemplified the mission of that organization.

Finally, he enjoyed the tender attention and loving devotion of Michael Laird of ComForCare Home Care, who brought peace and joy to Jim's most difficult days. Visitation at 12:30PM and the Mass of Christian Burial at 2:00PM will take place on Saturday, November 19, at Harwood Place Chapel, 8220 Harwood Avenue, Wauwatosa, WI, a loving and cherished community where Jim spent his last years. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the St. Camillus Foundation, the Lutheran Home Foundation, or the charity of your choice.