MacDonald, Alister "Casey"

Posted in Obituaries

Alister MacDonald, 92, of Ypsilanti, Mich., died April 8, 2008, surrounded by his family.

He was born Sept. 28, 1915, in Two Harbors, Minn., to Alexander and Gudryn (Floathe) MacDonald. He married Barbara Jean Rothnem Dec. 26, 1943, and she preceded him in death in 2001.

As a child Casey overcame a long bout with polio under the care of his cousin, Florence Christiansen, who also tutored him. During his recovery, he developed a love of reading and storytelling. After his illness, he returned to school and athletics, and excelled in tennis, a game he continued to play into the last decade of his life.

At 17, Casey was hired as a camp clerk by North Star Lumber, where he learned surveying, map-making and the skills needed to travel by foot through the woods of northern Minnesota. By age 20, he was setting up and running lumber camps and gathering lumberjack stories. In the off-season, he traveled the country by rail and even crossed the Pacific Ocean while working on a steamer.

He graduated from the University of Minnesota and began a career as a high school English and Social Studies teacher. After five years of teaching in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Casey and his family moved to Michigan.

From 1948  until 1963 he taught at Roosevelt High School on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. He also coached tennis and in 1961, his team won the Class C State Championship. After serving as principal at Roosevelt from 1964 until the school closed in 1969, he taught in the Education Department at Eastern Michigan University until his retirement.

Casey moved to Morenci in 1980 and was known for his love and knowledge of antique collecting. He made fast friends with a group of weekly poker players and enjoyed his daily encounters with fellow coffee-drinkers at the local eateries.

He served on the Stair Public Library board and was a member of the Morenci Planning Commission.

After his wife Barbara died in 2001, Casey moved back to Ypsilanti to live with his daughter, Kate.

Casey is survived by one daughter, Kate, of Ypsilanti; three sons, Michael (and Margaret), of Leeds, Mass., and Roderick (and Stephanie) and James (and Nancy), both of Ann Arbor; and grandchildren Megha, Maura, Spencer, Casey and Ian.

Besides his wife, he was preceded in death by his parents; a daughter, Mary Elizabeth; and brothers, Norman and James.

Memorial contributions may be made to Stair Public Library.

A memorial for Alister MacDonald, “Mr. Mac,” is planned Saturday, May 31, in the Roosevelt Auditorium on Eastern Michigan University's campus, Ypsilanti. The memorial program begins at 2:30 p.m., followed by a reception. Roosevelt will be open until 5 p.m. for visiting and reminiscing.
Please come and join the family, friends, students and colleagues of Mr. Mac in a celebration of his life. 

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