Joseph P. McDonald

Joseph  P.  McDonald
World Trade Center

Brainy, Brawny, Balanced

To mere mortals, people with natural gifts seem to stroll down easy street. Certainly Joseph McDonald appeared that way. He towered over his six siblings athletically and intellectually, said his brother Paul.

A perennial captain, he had the generosity of soul to pick the dorky kids for his team. During high school he was courted by scouts for Major League Baseball, but he chose college.

As he aged, Mr. McDonald was no longer the best athlete, but he was usually the smartest. He could always figure out a way to win. And winning was everything.

Most people knew him as a modest, funny, social fellow. Those closest saw an occasional moodiness that would come upon Mr. McDonald, 43, a bonds broker at Cantor Fitzgerald. He felt, said Paul McDonald, that he was not fulfilling his potential.

But about three years ago, Mr. McDonald suddenly got it. He stopped competing with himself. He cut back the socializing with clients and embraced the family: his wife, Denise; his daughters, Kathleen and Brigid; his parents, Joseph and Mary. Weekends he hiked with the family and coached girls' soccer and softball in Livingston, N.J.

"He accepted that there were other ways to define himself," Paul said: he seemed imbued with faith and fresh joy, and he strolled with the lightness of a man who had found his way to easy street.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 23, 2001.

Joseph McDonald, 43, exemplary dad

In high school, Joseph P. McDonald played baseball well enough to catch the attention of major league scouts. He was a standout on the basketball team, too. In college, he proved himself a bruising presence on the rugby field. And later, he learned to play golf well enough to humble any business associate who dared to join him on the links.

But in recent years, the athletic endeavors that mattered most to him were the hikes he took on Sundays with his wife, Denise, and their daughters, Kathleen, 10, and Brigid, 7.

And the games his daughters played for the Livingston Soccer Club and the Livingston National Little League.

And the hours he spent in the swimming pool, letting the girls climb on his back and then tossing them giggling into the air.

"His athleticism was God-given, and he had a good time with it, but it didn't define his life," said his father, Dr. Joseph P. McDonald of Sparta. "What defined his life was his marriage and fatherhood. He was an exemplary father. He never went anywhere without those girls."

Mr. McDonald, 43, of Livingston, was a partner at Cantor Fitzgerald Securities. He was at work at the World Trade Center on the morning of the terrorist attack, and has not been heard from since.

Born in Brooklyn, Mr. McDonald had lived in Livingston since 1989. He was a 1979 graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.

Mr. McDonald worked for many years as a broker of financial services at two affiliated companies in New York -- Garvin, Guybutler Ltd. and Garban LLC. -- before joining Cantor Fitzgerald three years ago.

"He had the kind of job on Wall Street where there was a lot of pressure to socialize," said Mr. McDonald's brother, Paul. "But it was always more important to him to be with his daughters, even if that meant giving up some opportunities."

Mr. McDonald was a former member of the Lake Mohawk Golf Club. There was a time, his brother said, when he played two rounds of golf every weekend. Though he hadn't put his clubs away altogether, he had cut back to two or three rounds a summer.

"He had kind of stopped golfing to spend more time with us," Mrs. McDonald said. "And when he wasn't with us, he was usually with his parents."

In addition to his wife, daughters, parents and brother, Mr. McDonald is survived by three sisters, Nancy Mahoney of Clinton, Mary Jean O'Sullivan of Phillipsburg and Maura Waugh of Sparta, and two other brothers, James and George, both of Manhattan.

Profile published by Tom Feeney in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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