Wakefield, MA — William T. McDonald, 84, a well-known Wakefield funeral director for more than 60 years, died at his home Friday, April 26, after a lengthy illness.
A Wakefield native who spent his entire life in the town, Mr. McDonald was known for his compassion, caring and competence in assisting families during their time of grief.
He founded McDonald Funeral Home at 19 Yale Avenue in 1952 at the age of 21, becoming the youngest licensed funeral home owner in Massachusetts. It started as a one-man operation, with voluntary assistance from Mr. McDonald's parents. Mr. McDonald oversaw several major renovation to the facility to make it the landmark building it is today.
The son of the late Joseph and Esther (Cross) McDonald, Mr. McDonald was born on Janauary 14, 1929. He graduated from Wakefield High School, served in the US Army during World War II and attended Boston University before graduating in 1949 from New England Institute with a degree in funeral service.
In 1954, he married Ruth Sweeney of Andover. They spent 58 years together and raised six children and 16 grandchildren.
Mr. McDonald was a fixture in the community, belonging to many civic organizations. He was a member of the Citizens' Scholarship Foundation of Wakefield, the Wakefield YMCA and Wakefield Rotary Club, and was a life member of the Wakefield Lodge of Elks, Knights of Columbus, VFW and West Side Social Club. He also was a member of the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association and a past Board member. He served as a Trustee of The Savings Bank in Wakefield.
In addition to his wife Ruth M. (Sweeney), Mr. McDonald is survived by his six loving children: Patricia Graham and husband Kenneth, Maureen Duffy and husband Robert, William T. McDonald, Jr. and wife Kathleen, John J. McDonald, David M. McDonald and Kathleen Susca and husband Richard, his brother Joseph F. McDonald of Concord, NH and his 16 grandchildren; Michael, Christine and Stephen Graham, Robert and Laura Duffy, Daniel, Andrew, Meaghan, Melissa, Jessica, John, David and Sean McDonald and David, Matthew and Jennifer Susca.
His funeral will be held from the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave, Wakefield on Tuesday at 9am followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Joseph Church, 173 Albion St., Wakefield at 10am. Relatives and friends may call at the funeral home on Monday from 3-8pm. Interment will be at Lakeside Cemetery in Wakefield.