Ronald Emanuel Mac Donald
September 12, 1926 – August 9, 2019
Ronald Emanuel MacDonald passed away Aug. 9th 2019 in Lacey, WA after a brief illness. He was 92 years old. Mac, as he was called by many, was a resident of Tumwater for 39 years, and dearly loved the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest. Born on Sept 12, 1926 in the Bronx, New York to Colin and Anna MacDonald, he was the second of five siblings.
In 1931, the family moved from NYC to Seaside, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Ron lived there until 1943, when he came back to the States, and fibbed about his age in order to join the Merchant Marines at 17 years old. He served until the end of WWII, landing in ports of call all over the world. During the Korean War, Ron enlisted in the Air Force and found duty with the Armed Forces Radio Network. He achieved the posting of an air broadcaster in Kyushu, Japan for the Far East Network. Staff Sgt. Ron had the privilege of announcing the end of the Korean War on AFRN. After the broadcast, the legendary CBS announcer, Edward R. Murrow complimented his work telling him that 25 million people had been listening.
Ron finished his tour of duty in NW Montana, at the Yaak Radar Base. Following his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1954, he married Borghild Rolseth in Libby, MT. They had five children together, twin daughters Ann and Mary, and three sons; Colin, Scott, and Kyle. Inspired by his daughter Ann’s autism, Ron was instrumental in the foundation of the first school for mentally handicapped children in Seattle, the NW Center for Retarded Children. It was one of his proudest accomplishments.
Ron had a successful career in radio, starting as a DJ in Kennewick (‘55), before moving to Spokane’s KNEW and KREM (’57 to ’62) where he became the city’s first rock and roll DJ. After moving across the state, joining KIRO (’62 to ‘69) in Seattle, he would become the #1 drive time radio DJ in the Seattle market. Ron broadcasted from the Space Needle and his ‘eye in the sky’ show was both humorous and unique. KIRO then made him program director and under Ron’s guidance; KIRO became #1 in ratings. Lastly, he moved to KNBR in San Francisco (’69 to ’71) where he replicated his success at KIRO, only this time achieving his goal of being program director at the #1 station on the West Coast.
In 1972, Ron returned to the NW and began a long career working for the state of Washington. He was the Assistant Director of the Washington State Highway Traffic Safety Commission for over a decade. He then started the Missing Child Department for the Washington State Patrol, only the third one in the country at the time, helping locate missing and lost children. After 20 years, Ron retired but continued to work part time for the State Senate as a public information officer for 10 years.
Ron had an intense passion for golf and over the years was a member of the Tacoma CC, the Olympia CC, and Chehalis Riverside CC. He also served as president of the men’s club at Tumwater Valley. It was a joyous event when the proud Scotsman played at historic St. Andrews in Scotland. In 1980 he met Oneta Bunnell, and began a “40 year love affair with my darlin’ girl” as he often said. They had a home in Tumwater and were active participants in the Homeowner’s Association. They enjoyed their Persian cats and a rich social life together.
Ron is preceded in death by his parents, sister Gloria, brother Eddie, sister Doris, and his daughter Mary. He is survived by his life partner Oneta Bunnell, youngest sister Joyce (Ted), daughter Ann, sons; Colin (Deb), Scott (Amy) and Kyle (Becky) , 10 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren (and still counting).
Fois dhut—(Scots Gaelic for ‘rest in peace’)
A memorial Service will be held Friday Aug. 23, from 11:30-12:30 pm with a reception to follow from 12:30-2:30 pm at:
Mills & Mills Funeral Home 5725 Littlerock Rd. SW Tumwater, Washington 98512
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to: Special Olympics 2815 2nd Ave. Suite 370 Seattle, Washington 98121 “In memory of Ron MacDonald”
Mills & Mills Funeral Home
5725 Littlerock Rd. SW