Joan McDonald

Joan McDonald (Ryan)

Thursday, March 24th, 1932 - Saturday, April 25th, 2020
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March 24, 1932 - April 25, 2020.
Joan passed away peacefully Saturday at the Maxville Manor, from Alzheimer’s disease. She is pre-deceased by her husband of 53 years, Donald (Donnie) Gordon McDonald (December 17, 1930 - November 28, 2016). They were married on May 18, 1963 in Brussels, Ontario.

Joan’s loss will leave an indelible mark on her seven children and their families, including Grant (Monica), Elaine (Terry), Heather (Duncan), Mark (Isabel), Patricia (Greg), Ross (Tina) and Brian (Karine) and her 18 grandchildren. She is survived by her loving family, including Jack, Gerry (Anne), Teresa and Betty, her sisters-in-law, Hazel, Mary and Margaret and brother-in-law Ewan as well as her many, many nieces and nephews.

Predeceased by her parents, brothers Bob, Jim and Nelson, sisters-in-law Marianna, Barb, Anne, Margaret, Constance, Martine and Helen as well as brothers-in-law Angus, Hugh, Duncan, Harry, Bill and Charlie and her daughter-in-law, Aldona.

Joan was born on a farm on the outskirts of Walton, Ontario to Marjorie (Reid) and Lawrence Ryan. At 18 she went to London, enrolled in the four-year registered nursing program, and graduated in 1953 from the Saint Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing. Always known for her adventurous spirit, after graduation she moved to Banff in the early fifties to work, then moved on to Hawaii to continue her nursing career while pursuing more exciting travel experiences.

In 1957, Joan decided to broaden her education further at the University of Ottawa by enrolling in courses to allow her to become a public health nurse. After the excitement of Banff and Hawaii, her public health qualifications brought her back to London, then to Glengarry County where she met her husband Donnie in 1958. She also spent time working in neo-natal and pediatric wards at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, and hospitals in Clinton, Seaforth, Woodstock and St. Anne’s Veterans Hospital.

Joan lived out her life trying to remain true to her deep Catholic faith and love of family while maintaining an abiding respect and compassion for her neighbour.

The family wishes to extend its enduring gratitude to everyone at the Maxville Manor, whose professionalism, patience, kindness and generosity were nothing short of exemplary, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joan’s final resting place will be beside her husband Donnie, at St. Finnan’s Cathedral, Alexandria, Ontario.

If you would like to make a donation in Joan’s name, please consider Maxville Manor, or the charity of your choice.

Funeral arrangements under the care and direction of the Munro & Morris Funeral Homes Ltd., 114 Main Street S., Alexandria, Ontario, 613-525-2772.

As a Memorial to Joan a tree will be planted in a memory woods. A tree grows - memories live.


Good afternoon and thank you all for braving a global pandemic to be here.
It is important to know that my Mother, Joan McDonald, was born Joan Elizabeth Ryan, in a small farming community in Ontario in 1932. As the eldest of a family of seven kids, there was no shortage of hard work, fresh air and food and wide-open spaces. That environment forged my Mother into a person who loved any family gathering, worked and lived with a no-nonsense attitude and who had an impressive and famous lead foot.
I recently heard a story from Aunt Teresa from when they were all still living at home in Walton. There was a disastrous farming accident that claimed their brother Jim`s right hand. After a week in hospital, Jim was released back home to be greeted by his big sister who had rounded up their brothers to have everyone head off to the local dance. This story is about seventy years old, but it rings true, underscoring everything I know about my Mother. She always chose hard work and laughter over self pity, inaction and tears. I believe on this occasion, the cry / laughing you’re likely to see today from my sisters would get an allowable exception from Mom… (I have allergies).
In the wake of the Second World War, my Mother turned 18 and started her Nursing education. As we see clearly today, in the global pandemic Nursing is a difficult job that automatically eliminates the squeamish, the weak and the otherwise fussy. It is no surprise that Mom was in the top of her class. She was very fortunate however, that her graduation did not require any French Dictée. As many of you are aware, My Mom’s French pronunciation was a spectacular abomination.
Despite our mother’s love of travel, she was never a restless sort, nor did anything in the world make her flinch. She followed up her Nursing studies in London to work, in Banff and Hawaii just to see what the world had to offer. After becoming a public health nurse, she worked in many hospitals between London and Montreal. She worked with patients of every age and in every condition. No wonder there was nothing that her seven kids could throw at her that she couldn`t handle.
My mother was introduced to my father by my aunt Haze when my Mom was the new public health nurse working in Glengarry. Mom was a pretty hot commodity back then, (if it’s not too weird for a son to say that about his mother) and was fending off the attention of Doctors, farmers and every other bachelor around. I believe my Dad won out simply because he had the best wing man… thanks Haze! In fact, my parents were engaged in this very cathedral at Midnight Mass in 1962. Mom must have been more lenient in her youth because when we
were kids, the rule of `No talking in church` was strictly enforced.
After my parents bought the house in Pierrefonds, the kids started coming at the rate of seven over ten years… a reckless pace by any account. My mother has always maintained that she was never as healthy as she was in those ten years. In all those years raising us, we never heard our mother utter a single complaint… and we gave her endless reasons to complain. From the cloth diapers that she had to wash in the toilet, to Mark wetting the bed, to cooking for nine people every day, to Mark peeing in his PJs when we all tackled Dad in the living room, to helping us all with homework, to breaking up fights that Mark started, to running us to sports anywhere from Ontario to Maine, between going to church and doing the groceries, to holding Mark’s thumb while he went to the bathroom after he cut himself and went into shock… What I am trying to say is that we were all equally, a terrible burden on our Mother.
Mom was always extremely generous with her time and efforts, but it was her wisdom that I have come to appreciate the most. When we were kids, we didn’t always get what we asked for, but we always got what we needed. My siblings all have a similar story. When I was five and starting organized hockey, I was intimidated by the crowd of other kids and likely uncomfortable in all the equipment I was wearing that we did not use on the back-yard rink. I started fussing (as five years
old’s often do) and came to the boards crying to Mom and asking to get off the rink. With the quiet tone and severe eyes that Mom reserved for public scolding’s, she offered me a choice: “You can have a“Lifter” or you could get back out there and skate your butt off”. My next lap was likely a world record for a five-year-old and I stopped by Mom on the way by and said, “It’s like I’m Bionic!”
- [Devoted / devout]
No matter your background or religious upbringing, I think we have all known people who professed to be deeply religious but who’s daily behavior simply didn’t measure up. It’s kind of a caricature actually. In our mother’s case, I believe the evidence shows that her quietly consistent and devout Catholicism could only be matched by the selflessness and devotion she exhibited toward her husband, children and grandchildren. It’s possible that I am a bit biased, but I can think of very few people who lived the letter and spirit of the new testament teachings as faithfully as she did, and who did so with so little fanfare. [The one exception would be her long-standing record of bank heists - a gal needs her spending money]
[A uniquely symbiotic couple]
It’s another age-old truth that not all couples are a great match. They might endure or perhaps divorce but the union invariably looks like two north poles of magnets being stubbornly pushed together - with gun fire. This was never the case with our parents. Where our father would prudently point out the risks
and dangers in almost any situation, our mother’s perfect counterbalance to that cautious advice would be, “dive in, take the chance, you can’t win unless you play and play hard”.
Driving was a perfect example. Where dad learned late and was a very cautious driver, mom learned to drive as a toddler, could drive anything with wheels, tracks or skis (and probably wings) at well over twice the posted limit and was perhaps the only newly minted nurse in Ontario who also had a full chauffeurs license. Dad would have to pry his white knuckles off the steering wheel after driving the family through Toronto. Mom would one-hand the Pontiac wagon through the eye of a needle on two wheels, pulling the tent trailer. A perfect symbiotic couple. It ain’t Ozzy and Harriet but we thought of it as a story book romance, a slightly peculiar match made in heaven.
Thank you Mom … and Dad for everything. We’ll take it from here.
Thank you all for coming. Stay safe.
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Private Condolence

Bob &Karen Skrivanic

Posted at 12:32pm
RIP Mrs. McDonald. Condolences to all her children. ill always remember her playing a part in my early development when she looked after me.
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