“Family, Museum of Science & Industry Mourn the Loss of Ed McDonald”

I regret to report that many current and former employees and volunteers of the Museum of Science and Industry are united in grief over the death of Ed McDonald on March 1, A.D. 2021 after an illness. Edward James McDonald (1952-2021) was longtime Director of Facilities and Operations at the M.S.I. and retired at the end of January after thirty-seven years in the post. 

Born on April 24, A.D. 1952, Ed McDonald earned his B.S. at St. Xavier University, which has its main campus in the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, in 1974.  In addition, he studied educational administration at Northern Illinois University (N.I.U.) in DeKalb, Illinois; science education at the University of California, Berkley; and project management at The University of Chicago.

Before he joined the M.S.I. staff, he worked as a science teacher at Summit Hill Junior High School.  He was also an assistant principal.  Further, he was Paper Sessions Chairman at both the regional and state level of the Illinois Junior Academy of Science.

For years, he oversaw the Chicago Public Schools (C.P.S.) science fairs hosted by the M.S.I. With Barry A. Van Deman, he wrote the book Nuts & Bolts: A Matter of Fact Guide to Science Projects, published by The Science Man Press in 1980.  At the time of its publication, Mr. McDonald was an Education Associate at the M.S.I. and Mr. Van Deman was Educational Services Coordinator. It was Van Deman who hired McDonald for this first job at the M.S.I.  [Van Deman later held the titles Director of Education and Director of Science at the M.S.I. from 1983 to 1990 and subsequently served as Executive Director of the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago.  He is now President & Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) of the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, North Carolina.]  In October of 1983, Ed McDonald became Director of Facilities and Operations. 

As Director of Facilities and Operations, Ed had a hand in several renovation and expansion projects at the M.S.I.  These included a retooling of the Coal Mine; moving the United Airlines Boeing 727 into the Transportation Gallery; and moving the U-505 from behind the East Pavilion, around the Henry Crown Space Center and the East Pavilion, and under the front lawn into the subterranean McCormick Tribune Foundation Exhibition Hall.  Ed was both liked and respected by people who worked for him and by colleagues who worked with him.

In 1995, he met his wife, Cheryl (nee Tyner) McDonald, at M.S.I., where she was Manager of Public Programs for over eight years.  They were to celebrate their twenty-third wedding anniversary this year.  Ed’s hobbies included photography, SCUBA-diving, motorcycle-riding with Cheryl, and cigar-smoking. 

He is survived by Cheryl, five children, six grandchildren, six siblings, and several nieces and nephews.  [In the next passage, the names of spouses are in parenthesis.]  His children are Steven (Jill), Kevin, Jeanette (Ted), Cyndi (Ralph) Paredes, and Timothy (Heather).  The grandchildren are Gavin, Brooklynn, Landon, Connor, Makenzie, and Declan.  Ed’s siblings are Dolores (Roger) Pawlik, Patrick (Terri), Maryann, Maureen, Margaret (John) Karolczak, and Mark (Ellen).  

His wake will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Maher Funeral Home in Tinley Park on Thursday, March 4, A.D. 2021.  The funeral Mass will be held at St. George Catholic Church at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, March 5, A.D. 2021.


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