Archie Philip McDonald

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  • "Judy,Chris, I was very sad to hear of the passing of..."
  • "I'm terribly saddened to hear of Archie's passing. He was..."
    - Steven Danver
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    - Avie Kalker
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    - Linda Hudson
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    - Linda and Coy Wagoner
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Nacogdoches lost one of its treasures this past Thursday morning. Archie P. McDonald â€" teacher, author, lecturer, and Nacogdoches' own personal historian â€" died in Nacogdoches Medical Center on August 16, 2012. It was a dark, cold day for his many friends and kin. He left way before his time, but Archie finally got some rest and release from a long season of suffering. Archie seldom let his pain slosh over among his duties and his friendships. He kept a strong hold on life and his profession. His second coat of hair gave him a mature distinction, and proud to say, Archie still looked and dressed better than anybody else on campus. He was immaculate from sole to crown and wore his hats as if they were specially made for him. As far as his profession was concerned, he did not miss a deadline. His peers believed that he was just taking a holiday and would still keep the miles that he had to go before he slept. Thursday was indeed a dark, cold day. Archie was born in Beaumont, Texas, on November 29, 1935. He lost his father fairly early in life and was raised by a loving mother and Other-Dad, aunts, and uncles. His early life was rich in his recollections, and he always kept his family and his growing-up time near and dear in mind and memory, as well as in his writing. Archie graduated from Beaumont' s French High School in 1954, received his B.S. from Lamar University in 1958, his M.A. from Rice University in 1960, and his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in 1965. Archie was quite proud of his Rice degree and that his LSU dissertation was directed by T. Harry Williams, a nationally renowned historian. Arch was equally blessed by his educational experience at Lamar. The main result was his meeting and falling goofily in love with a red-haired cutie named Judy Barrett. And it was soon thereafter that they married on December 21, 1957. It was one of those magic marriages where all the disagreements are agreed upon daily. Archie and Judy grew up joined at the hip, sharing all of life with its incidents and accidents, and talking about it for 54 years, when Archie could get in a word. They were a dear and loving couple, and Archie did not mind at all when Judy was Nacogdoches' mayor and “requested” that he attend every City Council meeting, even those about oiling the streets. Their relationship was literarily defined by Archie' s “Helpful Hints for HouseHusbands of Uppity Women.” Archie taught at LSU and elsewhere, but his academic career at Stephen F. Austin State University began in 1964, when he signed on to the faculty as an assistant professor. Archie put down roots and began his 48 years of service at SFA. Archie gave all he had to SFA. He was a popular teacher, he published articles and books regularly, he served as an officer in all the academic historical meetings, he was active on the state and national academic levels, and he served the City of Nacogdoches as citizen and speaker. Stephen F. Austin State University recognized that Archie was a significant factor in the university' s reputation, particularly throughout the state of Texas. Among academicians a university is judged by the academic reputations of its faculty. Archie was a past president of Texas State Historical Association and Chairman of the Texas Committee of Humanities and executive officer of the Texas State Library, Texas Historical Commission, OSR Preservation Committee, among others. Archie was the Executive Director of the East Texas Historical Association and editor of the East Texas Historical Journal from 1971 to 2008. He was also an editor of the New Handbook of Texas and The Journal of Confederate History and many other academic publications. Archie had terrific energy, intellect, and drive, and his way of life was his profession, particularly that part of his profession that dealt with writing and editing. He wrote and/or edited close to 50 publications during his career. They were all sizes, but they all had to have a beginning, middle, and end. For years, he wrote columns in the local paper. On top of which, Archie wrote and presented a weekly commentary from Shreveport' s Red River Radio station. For the reasons above and many more, SFA recognized the far-reaching value of Archie' s professorship and awarded to him every honor the university bestowed. He was a Regents' Professor and Distinguished Alumni Professor. He received the J.P. Bryan Leadership in Education Award, the Faculty Achievement Award, and two awards from the Texas Historical Commission. A major recognition by both university and city was the establishment of the Archie P. McDonald Speaker Series, which brought nationally important people â€" such as boxer George Foreman, astronaut Alan Bean, and Secretary of State James A. Baker III â€" to SFA and Nacogdoches for the enlightenment of all. Archie spent much of his time in his later years as liaison between the City of Nacogdoches and SFA. He was active in the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and was The Citizen of the Year in 2010. Archie was a close and intimate friend of this writer for well over 40 years. Archie was a picky eater, a Yaller Dog Democrat, and a Hardshell Baptist, but we always and often enjoyed each other' s company and conversation. I never ceased to admire his energy and his commitment to his discipline. I never ceased to admire his courage and vision. Archie was a true scholar. He searched for knowledge to share, never to hoard. Our loss! Arch was a good buddy. The day of his death was a dark, cold day. Archie was preceded in death by his parents, Archie and Pernemia Cowan McDonald, Other-Dad George Harvey Tucker, and son Tucker Barrett McDonald. Archie is survived by his wife-partner-lover of 54 years, Judy Barrett McDonald; son Christopher Lee McDonald; granddaughter Kelly Marie McDonald and mother Janet; brothers George Harvey Tucker, Jr. and wife Sherrie, John David Tucker and wife Donna, sister Nancy Lovenia Tucker; sister-in-law Cherry Coffman; and numerous nieces and nephews. Archie is also survived by his dear friend and co-conspirator, Mrs. Portia Gordon, whose virtue he protected for 17 years, while she ran the East Texas Historical Association and kept him pointed in the right direction in his own endeavors. The family wishes to thank Dr. Ted Ledet, Dr. Lloyd Whitley, Dr. Gerard Ventura, and the nursing staff and respiratory therapists on the second floor of Medical Center Hospital. The McDonald family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to one of the following â€" Austin Heights Benevolent Fund, 2806 Appleby Sand Road, Nacogdoches, TX 75965; East Texas Historical Association, Archie P. McDonald Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 6223 SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962; Archie McDonald Speaker Series, P.O. Box 6092 SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962; or . Visitation will be on Sunday evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Austin Heights Baptist Church. The body will be lying in state at Laird' s Funeral Home from 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. on Sunday. A memorial service will be held on Monday morning at 10 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Baker Pattillo Student Center on the SFA campus. F. E. Abernethy
Published in The Daily Sentinel on Aug. 19, 2012
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