Grant Ross MacDonald did “go gentle into that good night” leaving his family to grieve the loss of a bright, loving light in their lives: his wife Halcyon; children, Jeff, Heather and Greg, Cameron and Teri; his beautiful grandchildren – Elle, Reid, Adalyn and Islay; Treye (Judy) and grand dog, Woofus. Remembered by Jennifer MacDonald and Don Turner. Predeceased by his parents Dr. W.G. and Edythe MacDonald, his brother Dr. Bill (William) MacDonald, in-laws William and Daisy McLeod, and sister-in-law Islay Turner.
Born in 1938, Grant was raised in a medical household on Queen St. in Kitchener with Marie Niebergall as an essential family member who helped to raise him. Grant could well have followed the family tradition into medicine, his older brother Bill becoming a surgeon in Barrie. Although he was also advised to enter law, and briefly considered social work, Grant was drawn to the idea of the ministry, certainly influenced by Dr. Finlay G. Stewart, the dynamic minister of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in the heart of downtown Kitchener. During his undergrad years at UWO, Grant spent two summers filling a vacancy in a four-point charge in the Creemore area where he became more sure of his chosen path in life, and also met his future wife, Halcyon McLeod. His decision made, he graduated from Knox College in 1964 with a Bachelor of Divinity degree, married Halcyon in July and spent the first year of his ministry amid the wonderful people of Kenora. When Dr. Stewart offered him the position of his Assistant, Grant returned to St. Andrew’s as Associate Minister for nine years and then Senior Minister following Dr. Stewart’s retirement in 1975 until his own retirement in 1999. Under Dr. Stewart and Grant’s leadership, St. Andrew’s became the largest Presbyterian congregation in Canada with a membership of over three thousand members. There was also an extended television congregation watching the Sunday services on CKCO Kitchener.
Grant also took his energy, vision and leadership into the community, elected several times as a trustee to the Waterloo County Board of Education from 1971-1985, becoming Chairman of the Board in 1973. Focusing on students having learning difficulties, he became Chair of a Special Education committee to revamp Educational Services. He then served two years as Chairman of the Ministry of Education’s Advisory Council on Special Education reporting to Tom Wells, Minister of Education. He later was asked by Queen’s Park to sit on a Special Education Tribunal. Somehow, he also found time to sit on local boards, such as the Grand River Hospital Board and CAA Mid-Western. For his contributions to the community, his church congregation, his television congregation, his work for the Knox College Restoration Fund and support of the National Church, he received the Doctor of Divinity from Knox College. The words from a song written for his 25th anniversary at St. Andrew’s ring true: “If you check his vocabulary, “spare time” isn’t there.” Except for summer holidays, when he escaped to the cottage in Haliburton, his happy place, for family time, boats and motors, filming perfect sunsets, building docks, a deck, cooking, cheating at Yahtzee and euchre into the wee small hours with friends and family.
In retirement, he finally had the time to learn more computer tricks, become a gourmet chef serving up family feasts, researching his Scottish ancestry, cruising the seas with our best friends, spending time with his children and adored grandchildren who will miss ‘puter time’ sitting on Grandpa’s lap. Whether it’s the blue hills of Glen Huron or the Highlands of Haliburton on a hot summer evening as the sun sets and a loon calls on a still lake, we will see him, in all the old familiar places. A heartfelt thank you to the doctors, nurses, care workers and paramedics who took such good care of Grant in the final months of his life.
Grant was a tireless man of action whose life and ministry was built on compassion, inclusiveness and a desire to make his community a better place for everyone. To give refuge to the people who needed it most: the disadvantaged, the disenfranchised, the lost, the forgotten, the ill and the weak.
“In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
In the spirit of his giving, the family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to one of the following: Grand River Hospital Regional Cancer Centre; KidsAbility (kidsability.ca); Nutrition for Learning (nutritionforlearning.ca). Donations and condolences may be arranged through the funeral home at www.erbgood.com or 519-745-8445.
Friends are invited to share their memories of Rev. MacDonald with his family during memorial visitation at the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, 171 King St. S., Waterloo, Friday March 30, 2018 from 2-5 p.m.
A celebration of Grant’s life will be held on Saturday March 31, 2018 at 11 a.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 54 Queen St. N., Kitchener. Reception to follow. Cremation has taken place.