| John Clifton McDonald was welcomed into the world on July 25, 1930 by his parents Ethel and Edgar McDonald his brother, Edgar, and sister, Martha. John’s father was a barber, who also ran a dry cleaning business and a small farm outside of Baldwyn, Mississippi. John attended public schools in Baldwyn where he was active in sports. He was catcher for the baseball team and quarterback of the football team of Baldwyn High School, graduating in 1947. A note of interest is that John’s uncle, a master carpenter, was responsible for the construction of Baldwyn High School. During the summer, John worked with his uncle and helped to build the high school which he later attended.
Edgar McDonald suffered a stroke and died a year later when John was just 13. John’s mother, Ethel, struggled to keep the dry cleaning business open, with the assistance of her 13-year old son who drove the delivery truck. When the underage driver was stopped by the state police, he was advised to stay off of the main highways.
John attended Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, just west of Jackson, where he received a B.S. in 1951. He then enrolled at the Tulane University School of Medicine where he received his M.D. in 1955. It was during his medical internship at the Confederate Memorial Medical Center in Shreveport that he met Martha Dennis a student nurse at Northwestern School of Nursing. They married a year later on September 9, 1956, just one week before John started his Air Force basic training. Captain John C. McDonald was based at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey where he served as a flight surgeon from 1956 to 1958.
The McDonalds then moved to Buffalo, New York, where Dr. McDonald served his residency at the Meyer Memorial Hospital. They remained in New York for the next ten years during which time Dr. McDonald was a research fellow, a professor of surgery, and later, served as head of the transplantation section at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The 1960s saw the births of the three McDonald daughters – Melissa, Karen, and Martha.
The McDonalds returned to their southern roots in 1968 when John joined the faculty of the Tulane School of Medicine as professor of surgery. The family remained in New Orleans until 1977, when John was appointed head of the surgery department at the Louisiana State University Medical School in Shreveport.
The youngest daughter, Martha, followed her father into medicine. She received her medical degree at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in 1994 where she also completed her pediatric residency. She married fellow physician and classmate William Whyte in 1992. Their twins, Hayden and Emma were born in 2000. The middle daughter, Karen, married Terry Lairmore, a surgeon at Texas A&M Medical School. They have three children – Daniel born in 1991, Ashley born in 1993, and Sarah born in 1995. The eldest daughter, Melissa, lives in New Orleans where she is employed at Tulane University.