February 23, 1930 ~ July 31, 2008
John William McDonald
McDonald, John William, a 38-year resident of Palos Verdes, passed away Thursday, July 31, 2008. He was 78. He was preceded in death earlier this year by his beloved wife of 54 years, Dianne. He is survived by his son, Bruce (Sandy Ecker) McDonald of Lafayette, CO; daughter, Carolyn (Randy) Price of Redondo Beach, CA; sister, Marilyn Moon of Minneapolis, MN; and 3 grandchildren (Adam McDonald, Brittany and Andrew Price).
John was born and raised in Seattle, WA. He grew up on the beach on Puget Sound where he taught himself how to sail. He was a passionate sailor with a deep interest and respect for vessels, nautical skills and the sea. He built and owned multiple boats and was an active member of both the Arizona and King Harbor Yacht Clubs.
John attended MIT earning a Bachelor of Science in Marine Architecture (1952) and a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering (1957). In between his engineering studies, in Massachusetts, he was a commissioned officer in the United States Navy serving on active duty during the Korean War on the Bryce Canyon Destroyer Tender.
It was apparent from a young age that he was destined to be an engineer. When sent to do a chore of chopping wood, he instead invented a device to do the work for him while he relaxed and imagined sailing the open seas. His working career was spent at Garrett AiReasearch, working for 33 years in both Phoenix Arizona and Torrance California on projects involving Solar Power, Gas Turbine Engines and Filtration Systems. He recounted interesting stories about engines that flew apart during failed experiments, removing air bubbles from a submarine, and driving "the Tank".
In 1969 the family moved to Palos Verdes where he resided for the last 38 years. He became an active member of the Neighborhood Church of Palos Verdes Estates and continued racing sailboats, especially Lido 14's, competing in seven class championship regattas. Sailing became a strong focus in the family, with both his children competing as well. Later he became involved in the Top Sail Youth Program in San Pedro, which he enjoyed very much as he believed in their mission and of course, loved the tall ships.
His hobbies included Photography, Genealogy, Orchids, but most of all Traveling. He cultivated a wonderful collection of Cymbedium Orchids. Being an avid traveler, he had the opportunity to visit over 24 countries in his lifetime. His most memorable experiences came from the many trips he and Dianne enjoyed together; included exploring Australia on their own, a grand tour of China, a trip up the Amazon from Manaus, Brazil to Iquitos, Peru and chartering sailboats up the inside passage in British Columbia.
We will miss you Dad, "Papa", "Grandpa", John, especially your rich experiences, amazing intelligence, and charming demeanor. You will be in our thoughts and memories forever.
A Scattering at Sea Service with Military Honors will be held in late September. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Top Sail Youth Program, care of Los Angeles Maritime Institute, Berth 84, Foot of 6th Street, San Pedro, CA 90731.
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