Former Hercules Councilman and Mayor Joe Eddy McDonald died Saturday, according to friends and professional associates.
McDonald was elected to the council in November 2006 and served one four-year term; he was mayor from December 2008 to December 2009. Previously he had served on the City Planning Commission, from December 2002 to November 2006, the last 2½ years as chairman.
McDonald grew up in North Richmond, where he attended Verde Elementary School. He later attended Helms Junior High School in San Pablo and graduated from Richmond Union High School, where he competed on the track team, said his lifelong friend, San Pablo Councilman Leonard McNeil.
"Organized sports were a significant part of
After high school, McDonald enlisted in the United States Navy for a two-year tour of duty.
McDonald earned an Associate of Arts degree in business administration from Contra Costa College and completed professional development courses offered by Duke and Harvard universities, according to a biography on file with the Black American Political Action Committee, of which McDonald was an honorary member.
In 1966, McDonald married his wife, Mary Ann. That same year, he went to work for the United States Postal Service as
The McDonalds moved to Hercules in October 1984 with their two daughters, Kimaree and Meiko, according to the BAPAC biography.
Tragedy struck the family on Oct. 3, 1994, when Kimaree McDonald, 25, and her cousin Tiffane Spencer, 17, were killed when their car crashed head-on into a big rig on a winding, notoriously dangerous two-lane stretch of Highway 4 in West Contra Costa known as "Blood Alley" as they were returning home from buying an anniversary present for the McDonalds.
Vowing to keep others from suffering the same tragic fate, Joe Eddy and Mary Ann McDonald spearheaded a campaign to widen and divide the highway, according to a 2002 proclamation made by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission naming the couple a recipient of its Merit Award.
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 that represented accident victims killed on the roadway since the 1970s.
The McDonalds' advocacy led to the $86 million Highway 4 West divided highway project, which added two lanes.
"The McDonalds' efforts demonstrated that citizen activism can influence transportation decisions." the MTC's Arielle Bourgart said in 2002.
McDonald was a member of the Black American Cultural Association, a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Hercules chapter and of the Rotary Club of Hercules, according to the BAPAC biography.
He was past president of the Rodeo and Hercules Rotary clubs and had served on the Hercules Library Ad Hoc Fundraising Committee and the city's Mailbox Security Ad Hoc Committee, which culminated in the Secure Mail Box Replacement Program.
Funeral arrangements were pending Monday. McDonald will be honored during a libation ceremony for African American ancestors by BAPAC and the National Brotherhood Alliance at Saturday's Juneteenth festival and parade in Richmond.
McNeil, the San Pablo councilman, speaking of his friend, said, "His life stands as a testament to accomplishment for all those who come from humble beginnings."
Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760