April 28, 1913 – May 14, 2014
Deacon Edward Phelps McDonald, active in St. John Baptist Church for more than 60 years, died May 14 in his Buffalo home after a lengthy illness. He was 101.
Born in Memphis, Tenn., the oldest of nine children, he attended school until the eighth grade, when he left to work on the family farm. There he picked cotton and managed the finances until 1940, when he married his first wife, Evelyn Smith, and moved to Buffalo.
After settling here, he enlisted in the Navy and served in the Pacific aboard the destroyer USS Bennion as the head cook.
Returning to Buffalo, in 1949, he began a 25-year career at the Chevrolet plant on East Delavan Avenue. He also started an oil distributing business and owned several rental properties.
In retirement, he became a part-time van driver for the St. Augustine Center and the 1490 Jefferson senior transportation programs. He also shoveled snow for their clients.
A devoted reader of the Bible, Deacon McDonald joined St. John Baptist Church in 1950. He became a Sunday school teacher and later was Sunday school superintendent.
At the invitation of the church’s founder and pastor, the Rev. Burnie C. McCarley, he was ordained as a deacon in 1956.
He went on to be a member of the Adult Usher Board, the Trustee Board, the Fundraising Committee and Dr. Watt’s Singers.
He later served as a Boy Scout troop leader and a member of the Deacon Alliance Farm Board, the Good Shepherd Society, the Hospitality Committee and the Transportation Committee.
He also served on the board of directors of St. John Towers and the development board of the Edward Saunders Community Center.
He was co-founder of the Mid-Olympic Block Club, a member of the Ken-Bailey Block Club Council, was active in Kensington Neighborhood Housing Services and a volunteer for the mentoring program at School 78 on Olympic Avenue.
He also was a life member and master Mason at Paramount Lodge 73, Prince Hall Masons, and a member of Bison Consistory 29. An avid gardener, he received numerous awards.
Following the death of his first wife in the early 1970s, he was remarried in 1977 to Sarah Louise Barthel.
In addition to his wife, survivors include two daughters, Malika R. and Aiesha S. Randle; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A Masonic service will be at 7 p.m. today in Thomas T. Edwards Funeral Home, 995 Genesee St., followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m. Friday in St. John Baptist Church, 184 Goodell St.