Arthur Harold McDonald, Jr.

written by Bob Simeone on August 25, 2015 in Luncheons with no comments

Dear Fellow RBI Club Members,

It is with a heavy heart I share the following Memorial Notice regarding the Immediate Past Seattle Mariner RBI Club Commissioner, Mr. Art McDonald. As an RBI club member all you really need to know about Art was his email address: I think he was the only member with RBI in his email.

Please keep Art, his family, and the RBI Club in your hearts and prayers in the days ahead.


Bob Simeone
The Guy honored to follow Art in the line-up.


Arthur Harold McDonald, Jr.

October 2, 1932 – August 20, 2015


The moniker of “Mr. Seattle,” “Papa Coug,” or “Mr. Mariner,” have all been given to special people, but no more deserving than Art McDonald. In the 60’s and 70’s he came into the homes of Seattleites as the anchor of the 5:00 pm and 11:00 pm news. He interviewed celebrities, brought in election returns, covered Seafair events, and entertained us for over 20 years at KOMO Television and Radio. He was a Seattle icon that had a passion for his Cougs and Mariners, but mostly for his family and friends. Monday, August 20, 2015, Art passed peacefully in his sleep.

Art was born to Arthur Harold McDonald, Sr. and Erna C. Sivertson in Tacoma, WA, October 2, 1932. He graduated from Tacoma’s Stadium High School in 1951. He majored in Speech Radio/TV at Washington State College with a degree in 1956. During the time in Pullman he served as an announcer and producer on KWSC (now known as KWSU) and was the first student manager of KUGR. He won several radio/TV awards including the Edward R. Murrow award given to the most outstanding senior. He was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Probably his biggest award at WSU was meeting his wife, Jeraldine K. Heft, also a Speech Radio/TV major.

After Graduation, he began his Army training at Fort Monmouth Signal School in New Jersey. He graduated as Second Lieutenant. He was sent to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and was named as the PIO (Public Information Officer) at the Army Electronic Proving Grounds. As PIO at Fort Huachuca he was invited to the White House where he was given a commendation by President Dwight D. Eisenhower for coverage of a mid-air crash in the Grand Canyon. The 1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision occurred on Saturday, June 30, when a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 struck a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation. The crash resulted in the loss of 128 passengers on-board both flights. It was the first commercial airline crash to result in more than 100 deaths, and led to sweeping changes in the control of flights in the United States.

After serving his required two years in the Army, he was hired by Mrs. Scott Bullitt and sent to KREM radio and TV, in Spokane, WA. In 1959, when the Deer Lodge Montana Prison Riot broke. He and a KREM photographer were the first media on site. He told family the story of prisoners wanting to talk only to that “McDonald reporter from Spokane.” He won multiple awards and recognitions for his coverage of that riot.

He spent 3 years in Spokane before receiving a call from fellow WSU Alum and classmate Keith Jackson, asking him if he wanted to come to Seattle and work in both TV and radio for KOMO Broadcasting. The timing was great as he was assigned to cover the Seattle World’s Fair. It was also a time when television was going from black & white to color. He was hired as a reporter, anchor, and eventually elevated to anchor a half hour public affairs program called, ‘VIEWPOINT.’ The show featured panelists, and special guests discussing local, regional, and national events. Eventually he went on to become the Special Projects Director and Editorialist, winning a number of awards, including four Emmy’s. He served as President of the National Broadcast Editorial Association (NBEA) in 1978.

After twenty-one years at KOMO TV and radio, he was offered the job of Director of Communications at the largest private utility in the State of Washington, Puget Sound Energy (PSE). He developed a professional TV production and presentation system at PSE, and was part of a select strategic team that put together the merger between the electric and gas companies.

In 1997, he left PSE and joined his wife’s public relations firm (Jeri McDonald & Associates, Inc.) in Seattle. “He saw the other side of communications,” as his wife Jeri liked to tease him. Jeri passed away in 2001 and he continued consulting a few clients until his own retirement in 2008.

Art was a true philanthropist and civic ambassador for Washington State for over 60 years. He and his wife Jeri gave selflessly of their time, talents, and treasure for WSU. He served on the Murrow Communication Advisory Board, 1999-2004; WSU Strategic Communication Committee; 2000-2004; WSU Visiting Committee, WSU Foundation Board of Trustees, 1981-1983; WSU Foundation Board of Trustee emeritus – present. He received the WSU Alumni Achievement Award, 1989 – for distinguished leadership and accomplishment in professional and civic endeavors and for steadfast loyalty and accomplishment; WSU Outstanding Service Award, 1991; and was inducted into the WSU Murrow Hall of Achievement inaugural class of 2007 with Keith Jackson, Jay Rockey, Kathi Goertzen, Ted Baseler, and Mike Harney. In 2001 he helped establish the Jeri McDonald Scholarship Endowment, which as of today, has helped 22 students pursue a degree in public relations.

He served on the Seattle Mariners RBI Club since its inception in 1977; an advisory group to help promote the baseball organization within the community.

Art’s real love was family. Any free time he had he would find ways to spend time with his son, daughter and grandchildren. “He would always find time to come home between news broadcasts to spend time with family,” said his son, Scott. “He had a rule that we would always eat dinner at the table, and later in the evening, be in the living room as a family. Being a TV family it wasn’t unusual for us to all be in the same room, with an earpiece, watching our own separate shows on TV.” This love of togetherness carried on to grandchildren. He didn’t miss many events and was even known to finagle a way to get someone out of school to see an afternoon Mariner’s game.

Survivors include the families of: brother Bruce (wife Nancy), son Scott (wife, Christina), daughter Laura (husband, Gus), and six grandchildren: Kelsey (husband Jeremy), Korbin, Cole, Matthew (wife Stephanie), Tom (wife Ellie), and Katie.

A memorial service will be Sunday, August 30th, 2:00 pm at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 18341 State Route 525, Freeland (Whidbey Island), WA 98249. The officiant is Pastor Jim Lindus who Art had developed a great friendship with. *Ferry traffic is unpredictable so please allow yourself enough time. A reception will immediately follow the memorial.

Gifts can be made instead of flowers to: the Art and Jeri McDonald Scholarship in Communications at The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication through the Washington State University Foundation c/o PO Box 641927 Pullman, WA 99164-1927; by calling 800-448-2978 or through the secure online giving site: WSU Murrow College – in memory of Art McDonald, or the Alzheimer’s Foundation Washington State Chapter, 100 West Harrison St., North Tower, Seattle, WA 98109.