James Macdonald

Obituary of James Macdonald

On the eve of his 85th birthday, in the presence of family, Bill passed away peacefully at Markham-Stouffville Hospital.

Predeceased by his wife Georgina “Georgie” (Massie) of 57 years, his parents Evelyn and Donald, and his siblings John and Betty (Smith).

He will be missed by his children Heather (Mike), Gordon (Karen), Bonnie (Mike) and Ross (Kelly), his eight grandchildren Danielle (Shaun), Patrick, Sara, Jennifer, Jamie, Hannah, Olivia, and Nicholas, great-grandson Kyler, as well as his in-laws Maggie Macdonald, Bob Smith, Jim and Lesley Massie, and many nieces and nephews.

Bill grew up in Toronto’s west end. He attended Humberside Collegiate and after classes in his senior years, he engaged in amateur boxing which included bouts in Hamilton, Huntsville, Sudbury, Ottawa and Chicago as well as Maple Leaf Gardens where in 1951, he defeated Canada’s representative in the British Empire Games.

After high school his plan was to attend U of T and pursue a pharmacy degree, but family financial issues intervened and he set out into the working world where he carved out a very successful sales career. A career that introduced him to two of his lifelong loves, Georgie (while selling her, and then offering to install, a stereo system) and golf! Bill loved the game and became a very accomplished player. As a member of the winning Julius Boros team at the Amana VIP Golf Tournament in 1975, Bill shot a 72, one stroke more than Julius Boros who shot a 71.

In the 70’s, his children’s swimming activities led him to volunteer duties at their swim practices and meets, which eventually developed into two decades of coaching at North York Aquatic Club (NYAC), and the Toronto Aquanauts Swim Club (TASK). He was very proud of all his swimmers and his contribution in the development of the more than 25 of those who achieved a National level. In 1987, Bill represented Canada on the coaching staff at the Pan Pacific games in Brisbane Australia. He continued to support his athletes and the sport by providing guidance, references and wisdom as a friend and as a Course Conductor for National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), and volunteering with Ontario and Mavericks Water Polo on their Board of Directors.

Bill’s legacy to the development of High School sport can be traced to the York Mills Collegiate Institute (YMCI) Swim Teams where his impact is still recognized across the TDSB. As the volunteer coach of ‘Rubber Duckies’ the teams became the perennial city champions under ‘Coach MAC’. His battle to become their coach might have been his greatest victory unbeknownst to his swimmers. Bill brought the need of the student-athletes to council and successfully became the first ‘community’ or non-teacher coach of a city high school sports team, opening the door for many of today’s coaches.

After a long career in sales (Richardson’s Furniture, Tasco Distributers, and Thornhill Building Supplies), Bill’s love of playing golf grew into a deep interest of its history in Canada, and in 1996 he joined the Golf Historical Society of Canada (GHSC). Perhaps following in the footsteps of his grandfather J. A. Macdonald, Managing Editor of The Globe and brother John, former Sports Editor of the Toronto Star, Bill was appointed editor of the GHSC Bulletin, the Society’s newsletter, and the Sleepy Hollow’s Golf and Country Club 50th Anniversary book. His passion regarding the game’s history went beyond literature and into artifacts. Over the years he collected a plethora (no one has actually counted them!) of hickory shafted golf clubs and books, many of which he donated to the GHSC museum.

Bill and Georgie loved to travel. They toured throughout the world including trips to Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Scotland, Malta, and Asia. Yet some of their favourite trips were camping in every province across Canada with their children and organizing the GHSC anniversary trip, culminating by playing a round of golf on some of the oldest courses in Canada, and on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City.

Bill ‘retired’ from his duties at GHSC in 2011 to undertake his final commitment to become a full time caregiver to his wife Georgie who suffered PSP. Like each of his previous undertakings, his determination to be the best caregiver he could be allowed Georgie the comfort and dignity to live at home, until her passing.

After Georgie’s passing, he bid farewell to friends and their home of 54 years on Tollerton Avenue, and moved to Stouffville to be closer to the golf course and past family homesteads.

The family would like to thank the staff at Markham-Stouffville hospital especially Dr. G., Dr. B, the nurses on 3E and the many support staff including the SLPs, OT, and PT.

To all who knew Bill, a celebration of his life is planned for May 2, 2017 from 5:00pm to 9:00pm, with memories being shared at 7:00pm, at R.S. Kane Funeral Homes (6150 Yonge Street, Toronto).