Donald F. MacDonald

July 23, 1926 ~ February 18, 2021 (age 94)


Donald F. MacDonald passed away peacefully on February 18, 2021 at the age of 94 at Embrace Hospice House in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He was born at home in the Carolina Presbyterian Church Community in Dillon County, South Carolina in 1926. Donald was the seventh of eight children born to K. McLaurin MacDonald and Mary MacQueen MacDonald.  In his younger days, Donald was known as Frank. He began referring to himself by his first name Donald after he moved to Scotland in later years. Donald attended Little Rock Elementary and then Dillon High School where he graduated in 1942. He then attended Presbyterian College before joining the US Navy, in which he served during WWII. After the war was over, Donald enrolled at UNC Chapel Hill and graduated from the School of Journalism in 1948. He then accepted a job as a reporter with the Charlotte News in North Carolina.

Donald was fascinated with Scotland because of his ancestral ties there. He first travelled back to Scotland in the 1950s. After he returned, he was inspired to start the world-famous Grandfather Mountain Highland Games near Linville, North Carolina with Mrs. Agnes McRae Morton in 1956. He served as the President of the Games until 1961.

On a subsequent trip to Scotland, Donald met the Scottish actress and Gaelic singer Marietta MacLeod from the Isle of Lewis. After a long-distance courtship, Donald and Marietta planned to marry. When Marietta landed in Charleston in 1960, they headed to Linville, NC for an old-fashioned Scottish wedding complete with kilts and pipe band. It was such a spectacle that it was featured in an edition of Life magazine, complete with many pictures of the wedding.

In 1961, Donald and Marietta returned to Scotland to live. After residing in Glasgow and Dunlop, they settled in Edinburgh where Donald was a reporter for the Weekly Scotsman. Donald eventually joined the faculty of Napier College in Edinburgh, where he taught for a number of years until his retirement. In retirement, Donald wrote of the Scottish cultural revivalist movement in North Carolina in his book America’s Braemar: Grandfather Mountain and the Rebirth of Scottish Identity Across USA which was self-published in 2007. This work was a culmination of his life’s interest in Scottish culture in America.

Donald was a great storyteller. He loved to regale audiences with his stories and songs. Many of the stories that he told concerned his family and Carolina Community as well as Scottish culture and history. Others he learned from his father and concerned “The War” where Yankee Federalist troops invaded South Carolina in 1865, subsequently visiting Carolina Community and plundering his family’s farm there.

Donald was predeceased by his parents, his wife Marietta, and all of his siblings - four brothers (Dr. Malcolm John MacDonald, Col. Charles Brown MacDonald, Alexander McRae (Rae) MacDonald, and Robert McLaurin (Bob) MacDonald), and one sister Flora MacDonald Gammon. Two brothers, James and Roderick, passed away as infants. He is survived by nephews Dr. James Roderick (Jamie) MacDonald, Alexander McRae (Mac) MacDonald, Jr., Richard Rhea MacDonald, and Bruce MacQueen MacDonald. Surviving nieces include Jackie MacDonald Hendrix (who cared for Donald in his last years), Sandra MacDonald Adams, Moire MacDonald Lattimore, and Sona MacDonald. His niece Flora Gammon predeceased him. In addition, he is survived by his sister-in-law Ingrid MacDonald (Bob’s wife) and grand as well as great grand nieces and nephews.



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