Graeme McDonald Obituary

Graeme John McDonald
Graeme John McDonald

September 22, 1947 - November 16, 2020
Born in Whakatane, New Zealand
Resided in Vancouver, Washington


In loving memory of Graeme John McDonald, 73 years of Vancouver, Washington, who passed away at the Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon, on 16th November 2020.

Graeme was born in Whakatane, New Zealand, on 22 September 1947. He grew up on a farm in New Zealand before working as a police officer and then in construction, building homes for people. He moved to the USA in 1984, where he resided with his wife Donna (nee Bennett) in Portland, Oregon, before moving in his later years to Vancouver, Washington.

Graeme is survived by his former wife Kathy Watkins and his children:
• Vanessa,
• Greg and his son Jack, and Greg‘s partner Keely
• Tim and his wife Kerstin and children Maximilian, Leni and Zoe
• Stephen (Graeme’s adopted son).

In his retirement, all of his neighbours and the children of Riverview Elementary School knew him as Grandpa Graeme. A ‘leader in learning’ on Katu TV, Grandpa Graeme was a regular volunteer at the school teaching the children how to read and do maths. He had a special relationship with every child. The children would become extremely excited when they saw Grandpa Graeme arrive at the school each day, often fighting over who would get to read with him.

Graeme was heavily involved in the church and a great advocate for God. His friends remember him as a man who inspired others in their faith. He would always wave to all in the neighbourhood and his friendly personality enabled him to strike up a conversation with anyone. Graeme had the extraordinary ability to remember names and information, dispite multiple strokes. He was always keen to learn about other cultures and spoke several languages (English, Maori, Russian and Spanish).

A memorial apple tree has been planted at the Vancouver First Friends Church surrounded by daffodils in recognition of his wife Donna’s fight with breast cancer. A celebration of Graeme’s life has been posted online under:

Any photos of Graeme (and/or Donna) and messages of support or remembrance can be sent to The family would also welcome donations of children’s books (fiction and non fiction) to be sent to the Riverview Elementary School Library (12601 SE Riveridge Dr, Vancouver, WA 98683) to continue Grandpa Graeme’s work in teaching children to read.



Funeral Home
Evergreen Staples Funeral Chapel
3414 NE 52nd Street #101
Vancouver, WA US 98661