HERCULES -- A late mayor, councilman and postmaster could be memorialized in a busy local transportation corridor, under a resolution pending in the state Senate.
SCR 44, sponsored by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, would name the Willow Avenue overpass over Highway 4 the Joe Eddy McDonald Memorial Overcrossing. On Tuesday, the Hercules City Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting DeSaulnier's resolution and urging the Legislature to name the overcrossing after McDonald. The costs of posting memorial signs would be privately funded.
McDonald, who died at 67 on June 9, 2012, served on the Hercules City Council from 2006 to 2010, including a term as mayor in 2009. Previously, he had served on the Hercules Planning Commission, from 2002 to 2006.
But it is the civic actions of McDonald and his wife Mary Ann as ordinary citizens, in the face of overwhelming personal tragedy, that inspired the drive, initiated by Councilman Dan Romero, to name a roadway in McDonald's name.
After their daughter Kimaree McDonald, 25, and their niece, Tiffane Spencer, 17, died in a 1994 crash on a notoriously treacherous, formerly two-lane stretch of Highway 4, the McDonalds campaigned to make the highway safer by widening and dividing it.
They collected 10,000 signatures on a petition to state lawmakers, made presentations to local government agencies, and organized a community walk to the Hercules City Council carrying wooden crosses wrapped in yellow ribbons representing accident victims killed on the roadway since the 1970s.
The McDonalds' efforts culminated in the $86 million Highway 4 West divided highway project, which added two lanes; the project was mostly completed in 2001.
Born in Arkansas on March 6, 1945, McDonald and his family moved to Richmond in 1950. After graduating from Richmond Union High School, McDonald enlisted in the Navy for a two-year tour of duty before enrolling at Contra Costa College, where he earned an Associate of Arts degree in business. He went to work for the U.S. Postal Service in 1966 as a letter carrier, working his way up to postmaster of Hercules and Rodeo for 19 years until he retired in 2002.
Romero originally had proposed naming a portion of the highway after McDonald, but the state already has named the highway after the legendary naturalist John Muir.
Romero lauded former Richmond Mayor Irma Anderson for lobbying DeSaulnier to support naming the overcrossing after McDonald.
Hercules City Manager Steve Duran said the City Council of Richmond, where McDonald grew up, will consider a similar resolution next week.