Obituary of William Arnold Itline McDonald Jr
In Loving Memory of William Arnold Itline McDonald, Jr.
Our beloved William Arnold Itline McDonald, Jr., affectionately known as William or W.A.I McDonald, Jr., graced this world on September 4, 1958, in Tyler, Texas. Born to Reverend W.A. I. McDonald, Sr., and Mrs. Grace Loute McDonald, William brought immeasurable joy to the McDonald family, St. Louis Baptist Church, and the entire Tyler community. His life's journey was a testament to the values instilled by his family, church, education, and the community he held dear.
From his earliest days, William actively served in various capacities at St. Louis Baptist Church, deeply influenced by his father's thirty years of pastoral guidance. His educational path led him through the halls of the Tyler Independent School District, attending St. Louis Elementary, Hogg Middle School, and ultimately graduating from Robert E. Lee. During his time at Lee, he left an indelible mark as a proud member of the Lee Gentlemen, the speech and debate team, the honors society, and more. Between 1975 and 1979, William served as Top Teen National President.
His pursuit of knowledge continued at Trinity Valley Community College, where he not only excelled academically but also garnered national and regional accolades in speech and debate, earning the prestigious President’s Award. William furthered his education, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from the University of Texas at Tyler and later achieving a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Texas. His intellectual brilliance, eloquent debate skills, and prolific writing endeared him to those who had the privilege of knowing him.
William's professional journey began with humble beginnings, from mowing yards to working in J.B. Jones cleaners, Community Funeral Home, and becoming one of the first black employees at McDonald's. Early in his career, he was one of only three African American Public Works Directors in the State of Texas, serving as a beacon of inspiration for 33 years in city government, including roles as City Manager in Balch Springs, Marlin, Hubbard, and Wilmer, Texas. He also served as Solid Waste Manager in Austin, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Arlington County, Virginia. Known for his unwavering commitment to community service and activism, William made significant contributions that touched the lives of many. He secured over $11 million in external funding for roadway improvements, collaborated with TxDot on service access ramps along I-20 in Balch Springs, and championed various projects that enhanced the communities he served. His legacy includes the creation of parks, recreational facilities, and food services for seniors and youths.
Beyond his professional endeavors, William's impact extended to education, where he shared his knowledge as an adjunct government instructor at the Eastfield campus of Dallas College for over 25 years. Driven by a deep desire to uplift the youth, he also taught social and ethnic studies at South Oak Cliff High School while pursuing teacher certification rather than enjoy retirement.
A devoted member and Deacon of Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, William actively participated in various organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Dallas chapter, where he served as Legal Address Chair. He was also a cherished member of the Dallas Masonic Lodge No. 654.
For William, his most cherished accomplishment was his union with his devoted wife, Cheryl Caldwell, and the subsequent journey of raising their children in Christ. He leaves behind a legacy of love and devotion survived by his son, William A.I. McDonald, Esq. (Trey), married to Lauren, his daughter, Amanda McDonald, grandson Austin Johnson, granddaughter Logan, and his beloved mother-in-law, Fern Caldwell. In grief, he leaves his family, his aunt, Joyce Kindle of Ft. Worth, and his sisters: Billie Joyce Griffin (Fred) of Houston, Tijuana McDonald, Bettye Mitchell N’Guessan (Gabriel), and Willeen Steadman, all of Tyler. He also leaves behind his beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.
William's warmth, compassion, and enduring impact on those around him will be deeply missed. May his memory continue to inspire us all.
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