John ‘Mac’ MacDonald Dies; Former Resident was Age 91

John Morrison “Mac” MacDonald

John Morrison “Mac” MacDonald, born in Longview, Washington, February 5, 1931, died peacefully on May 7 in Seattle, Washington, surrounded by his immediate family. He was 91.

As a boy in Longview, Mac worked for his father’s glass company, “Twin City Glass,” and spent the summers with his parents and three older brothers in a cabin on Lake Shasta. His father, Malcolm MacDonald, told his four boys many stories of his adventures in Alaska prospecting for gold in the early 1900s.

In 1950, Mac enlisted in the United States Air Force in and served stateside during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged in 1953. His military service helped him to begin college at Texas Tech, and to finish his bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Washington in 1959. He went on to earn a law degree from the University of Washington in 1963.

Although Mac had loved law school, he was not fond of being a lawyer. In 1967, he came to Sitka and took a job as general manager of Sitka Readi-Mix, a concrete mixing and pouring company. During his time there, the Readi-Mix poured the foundations of many notable structures in Sitka, including the O’Connell Bridge.

He often traveled back to Seattle to visit friends, and the university, he met the love of his life, Joyce Marie German, a researcher at the University of Washington Hospital at the time.

In 1970, Joyce joined him Sitka, and they were married in the home of friend Roy Paschal. In 1972, Mac and Joyce purchased Sitka Men’s Store on Lincoln Street from Howard and Edith Bradshaw. The store was later renamed MacDonald’s. Despite Mac and Joyce’s having no experience in clothing retail, the business took off and allowed them to move into the newly-built Bayview Trading Company at 407 Lincoln. They expanded their business to include women’s and juniors’ clothing and, in 1980, they opened the Russian American Company, which sold Alaskan and Russian fine arts and crafts. The building was remodeled in 1982, with the help of close family friend and architect Fred Bassetti.

When Mac wasn’t working in the stores, he could be found in the woods or on the waters of Sitka Sound. He knew his way around the islands without a map, and preferred to go fishing  in a 16-foot skiff with just an outboard motor and no cabin, digging for clams, harvesting abalone, or beachcombing. He loved to hike with Joyce, and in 1971, along with friend Chuck Oullette, found a corduroy road which led to the large, abandoned campsite  where a mining company had hoped to find gold in Pande Basin.

In later years, Mac became the director for the “Save Sitka See House” effort, and was instrumental in bringing about much-needed refurbishment to the See House next to St. Peter’s by the Sea on Lincoln Street.

Mac is survived by his wife Joyce, daughter Moira and son-in-law Jesse Kingsley.

Mac’s ashes will be interred at St Peter’s Community Urn, and donations in his honor can be made to St. Peter’s, or the Sitka Music Festival.

A celebration of Mac’s life will be held 1 p.m., June 26 at Harrigan Centennial Hall. All are welcome.

Login Form




At a Glance

(updated 5-30-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:15 pm Tuesday, May 30.

New cases as of Tuesday: 165

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 298,078

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,468

Case Rate per 100,000 – 22.64

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 58.70

Cases in last 7 days – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,424

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






June 2003

Sitka Community Hospital board of directors has asked SEARHC to stop providing most health care services to non-beneficiary patients. “During the collaborative process SEARHC has said they’re happy to do anything they can do to help,” said SCH Administrator Bill Patten. “This is one of the things they can do – not provide services to non-beneficiaries.”



June 1973

What began 50 years ago in a Methodist parsonage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will be celebrated Sunday in Sitka. Les and Caroline Yaw’s four children invite the couple’s many, many friends to attend a golden wedding anniversary reception at the Centennial Building.