Dr. McDonald, 79, of Rochester, died Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, at his home surrounded by his beloved wife and family. Dr. McDonald was born on May 30, 1940, in Ballynahinch, County Down, Northern Ireland, to Dr. Frank and Irene McDonald.
Dr. McDonald graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1963, after which he completed a year long internship in Dublin before emigrating to the United States for an internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in Saginaw, Mich. There he met Mary Brown, a nursing student at St. Mary’s, and married her on May 14, 1966.
Dr. McDonald served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1965 to 1968, where he attained the rank of Captain. He was deployed as a combat surgeon at the 12th Evac Hospital in Cu Chi, Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1966 to 1967 and he was decorated for bravery.
After completing his military service, he began his residency at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, in 1968, which he completed in 1972. He joined the staff of Mayo Clinic as a consultant in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery on April 1, 1972. He became Professor at Mayo Medical School in 1988. He was appointed Chair of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in 1990 and served in that position until September 2003. In 1990, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He served as Vice Chairman of Mayo Clinic’s Board of Governors and he was a member of its Board of Trustees. During his career, he amassed an impressive bibliography approaching 400 publications. Throughout his career and even after retirement, Dr. McDonald was instrumental in training hundreds of surgical residents and he had a tremendous, positive
influence over the lives and careers of countless physicians from around the world. He was the recipient of numerous awards, both nationally and internationally. Dr. McDonald retired on Jan. 2, 2007, after serving 39 years at Mayo Clinic.
His passion for medicine was equaled, if not eclipsed, by his love for his wife and five boys. He was a voracious reader and an enthusiastic student of the theater and classical music. He enjoyed jogging with friends as well as playing racquetball and tennis. He was a Minnesota Vikings fan and he enjoyed a lifelong love affair with rugby which he played for many years in Ireland.
Survivors include: his wife, Mary, Rochester; his four sons, Tom Jr. (Karmin), Minneapolis, Drew (Aimee), Salinas, Calif., Ryan (Rita), Melbourne, Australia, and Darren (Laura), Minneapolis; and his seven grandchildren, Meaghan, Aidan, Desmond, Courtney, Norah, Paige and Gavin. He is preceded in death by his son, Robbie; his parents, Frank and Irene; his brothers, John and Donald; and his sister, Una.
A Mass in celebration of his remarkable life will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at the Co-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Rochester, officiated by Rev. Msgr Gerald A. Mahon. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the Mass at the church. The Wake for Dr. McDonald will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16 also at the church. Burial with full military honors will be held at the St. Bridget’s Catholic Cemetery in Simpson, Minn.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial gifts to the Robb McDonald Shakespearean Scholarship (go to lourdesfoundation.org or mail a check to Lourdes Foundation, 2800 19th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901).