Donald Gordon McDonald died peacefully in Dallas, Texas on August 5, 2022, at the age of 97. Donald was born on February 22, 1925, in Waxahachie, Texas.
Don was a renowned organist, an inspiring teacher, a church musician, and a dedicated mentor to many. Beginning in high school, he took organ lessons with Dora Poteet Barclay at Southern Methodist University. Following high school, he enrolled at SMU as a pre-med student, but left to serve his country in World War II. Donald served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, Ninth Air Force from 1943-1945, as a chaplain’s assistant. During the war, he was involved in the Northern France Campaign, the Ardennes Campaign, the Rhineland Campaign, and the Central Europe Campaign. For his service Don received the American Theater Service Medal, the European Theater Service Medal with four bronze battle stars, and the Victory Medal.
Upon returning from the war, Don was invited to attend the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia by Dr. Alexander McCurdy. There, he obtained his Bachelor of Music in 1950. He continued his studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he obtained a Master of Sacred Music in 1952, and later, a Doctor of Sacred Music in 1964.
Don served as Professor of Organ at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey from 1952 to 1994. He also served as a Teacher of Organ Playing at Union Theological Seminary in New York from 1958 to 1966. His students achieved acclaim throughout the world and regarded Donald as a giant in the American Organ community. Invited to give recitals around the globe, he took pride in being the first American organist to play at the Annual Organ Week in Nuremberg, Germany in 1963. From 1955 to 1975, he was a touring organ recitalist under the management of Colbert-LaBerge Concert Management. He served as the organist and minister of music at Christ Church, United Methodist, in New York for 30 years. With all his own accomplishments, Don always remained most proud of the accomplishments achieved by his many students.
Don lived life to its fullest. A world traveler, Don visited more than 40 countries, often with close friends, finding great joy in seeing new sights and exploring different cultures before returning to his adopted hometown of New York City. He was interesting and interested, always genuinely excited to learn what was going on in the lives of his friends and family. His smart sense of humor and intellect were matched by his compassion and dedication to friends, family, and community
Don was predeceased by his parents, Gordon and Mildred McDonald, and his sisters, Julia, Virginia, and Juanita. He is survived by niece Cyndy Matthews and nephew Scotty Rutherford and their families. He also leaves behind many friends and devoted students.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to the American Guild Organ Endowment Fund at www.agohq.org or the Central Park Conservancy at www.centralparknyc.org.