News of Donald McDonald

Photo by Karen Holtkamp

News of Donald McDonald

This note will be of interest to all friends and students of Donald McDonald, beloved organ teacher at Westminster Choir College for many years. For those who did not have the chance to know him, he graduated from Union Theological Seminary, and was on the roster of the Lillian Murtaugh Artists Management. John Apple was among his students. The following information was sent in by Mark Laubach.

Dear friends and past students of Donald McDonald:

Glenn Miller (WCC Class of 1977) just sent me this update on “D McD” and I wanted to be sure to share the news with all of you on my list. Please, if you know of other past students and friends of Donald’s who are /not /on my list here, feel free to pass this information on to them.


I just learned this weekend from a friend in NYC, Ronald Berresford (WCC ’74), that Donald McDonald is now in an assisted living facility in Dallas TX. In February he planned a 49 day cruise to Australia. He fell on the ship very early in the trip and was air lifted to Dallas where he has a niece who has taken a strong part in assisting him. I
haven’t spoken with him, but I learned also from Ron that he is probably now confined to a wheel chair for the remainder of his life and that he’ll remain in Dallas. Ron says that he’s made peace with that and doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him. Ron also said that his mind is sharp as a tack.

His new address is:

Grace Presbyterian Village
550 E. Ann Arbor
Assisted Living #2
Dallas TX 75216

214 778-6008.


You may remember that Donald turned 90 this past February 22nd. I emailed and tried calling him around that time, but as we now know, this is when he was on his cruise to Australia. Please do keep D McD in your thoughts and prayers. I’m sure he’d be thrilled to hear from you, either by mail or by phone!

All best wishes to each and every one of you!

Mark Laubach
Canon Mark Laubach, Organist & Choirmaster
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
Pro-Cathedral of the Diocese of Bethlehem
35 South Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barre PA 18701
Church Phone: (570)825-6653
Mark’s Mobile Phone: (570)704-7055

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4 Responses to News of Donald McDonald

  1. Chris Brunt says:

    I have been to see him a couple of times. He is in very good spirits (as always).

  2. doug cloyd says:

    I sang at Christ Church Methodist in NY 12 years. Don was organist and choir master.
    Best education I ever had and listening to him play was 5 stars.
    Doug Cloyd

  3. Patricia S. Fischer says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. McDonald in NYC in summer of 1969. My Aunt Catherine had treated me to a long weekend in the city and we stayed at the Plaza Hotel. I was 12 years old. We visited various churches that weekend to view and appreciate the art and architecture. During one of those visits (I believe it was an Episcopal church) we stayed for a while to listen to the exceptional organ music. My aunt was so impressed that she asked a church member the identity of the organist. We were taken to met Mr. McDonald, who was cheery, humorous, and gracious. He and my aunt chatted awhile and we learned a bit about him. As we were leaving my aunt offered a donation for the church. As he accepted the envelope Mr. McDonald quipped, “Now I can afford a nice lunch!”
    Throughout the years I would hear of Mr. McDonald, albeit not often. Aunt Catherine mentioned him to me at times when she met someone in the organist-choir genre. If she mentioned his name among those people she would be rewarded to hear someone comment that he was highly thought of in those circles.
    To me, the real surprise is coming across this website and discovering this post. The fact that after forty-seven years, I might still come across information regarding Mr.McDonald is phenomenal. I am just a random person whose life was briefly touched by this fine gentleman. Isn’t life strange and wonderful?

  4. Nanette Gordon says:

    I heard from my organist friend Tom Froehlich that Mr. McDonald attended the Opening Gala Program at 1st Presbyterian Church, Dallas, TX on January 27, 2018…. wheelchair and all. I also attended the program with my husband Marvin Judy of Schudi Organ Company Inc.

    The program was marvelous in the newly remodeled Sanctuary at 1st Presbyterian Church… absolutely the most comfortable pews anywhere.

    Thank you Mr. Laurbach for posting this wonderful tribute to such a renowned organist.

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