Ellice McDonald, Jr., CBE 1913-2013


Ellice McDonald Jr, CBE.

Ellice McDonald Jr, CBE.

t is with great sadness that we announce the death of Ellice McDonald, Jr., CBE, a central figure and past High Commissioner of Clan Donald USA. McDonald spent a lifetime involved in the clan society and received many awards and honours for his work, including the title of CBE. He was also chiefly involved in the establishment of the Clan Donald World Centre on Skye. He died peacefully at his home Invergarry in Delaware on 10 June 2013. He was 100 years old.

Born in New York City on 22 May 1913, McDonald was the son of Canadian physician Dr. Ellice McDonald and portrait artist Ann Heebner McDonald. He was the grandson of Archibald McDonald of Glencoe, who was the last of the chief factors of the Hudson Bay Company. McDonald received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Strathmore College, and in January 1941 he volunteered for United States Army, serving as a commissioned officer in the Pacific Theatre.

McDonald was appointed High Commissioner of Clan Donald USA in July 1976, serving in that capacity until 1983. During this time he spent a great deal of energy and money reinvigorating and reorganising the society. He incorporated Clan Donald-USA, Inc. and divided the country into 13 regions, appointing regional and state commissioners. The magazine, “By Sea By Land,” was published and regional and state newsletters were distributed. Today, CDUSA is thriving and has more than 4,000 families. An authoritative history of the clan was published by Donald J. McDonald in 1978, with much of the books success owing to Ellice, who ensured that every Clan Donald association had a copy.

McDonald also established the Glencoe Foundation as a private charitable foundation which made contributions to Scottish organisations such as the National Trust for Scotland, the Royal Caledonian Schools in Bushey and the Clan Donald Lands Trust on Skye. Macdonald became a trustee of the latter in 1970 and he, alongside his wife Rosa, took a great interest in helping out this organisation which still exists today.

Soon after becoming commissioner McDonald also established the Clan Donald Foundation, dedicated to promoting the customs, traditions and heritage of the Scottish people. The foundation became the foremost Clan organization in the United States with several thousand members and approximately 95 commissioners in every State including Alaska and Hawaii. On 13 December 1995, Queen Elizabeth II conferred on McDonald the title of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). On 18 June 1992, a similar honour was bestowed upon his wife, Rosa. They are the only husband and wife in the North American Continent to have received this honour. McDonald was the guest of honor of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in Linville, North Carolina. It is believed he is the first American to have been so honored.

2002 saw the opening of the newly built ‘Museum of the Isles’ at the Clan Donald Lands Trust on Skye. It hosts extensive archives and valuable artefacts, with the bulk of the funding coming from the Glencoe Foundation Inc. – backed by Ellice and Rosa McDonald. In 2004 McDonald was awarded the Tartan Day Award, which acknowledged his outstanding services to Scotland. In making the announcement, Robert Murdoch, national chairman of Tartan Day said: “I was extremely pleased to hear that the selection committee for the second annual Tartan Day Award has determined the recipient will be Ellice McDonald, Jr., CBE. Tartan Day as we celebrate it is now eight years old, but Ellice McDonald, through his creation and support of the Clan Donald Centre on Skye, has been upholding Scottish traditions for years… His tireless activities in that regard have benefited Scots and Scottish-Americans worldwide.”

Ellice first met his wife, Rosa (deceased), in 1930 when he was sixteen, and they married in 1954. They shared a lifelong passion for cats and dogs and they adopted countless numbers of strays and rescue pets who happily shared their animal “bed and breakfast” with the occasional pure bred German Shepherd or Golden Retriever. In 1978, McDonald also established and became president of the Gurkha Welfare Trust Foundation (U.S.A.) which cooperated closely with the Canadian Gurkha Appeal.

His family want to express their gratitude to the staff and nurses who took such good care of Ellice in his final years. The interment will be private. The family suggests gifts to Faithful Friends Animal Society, 12 Germay Drive, Wilmington, DE 19804. A guestbook can be signed by clicking here.


About Nadine Lee

Originally from New Zealand, Nadine is a documentary researcher now based in the north east of Scotland.

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