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Herbert Leon MacDonell


1928 - 2019
Herbert Leon MacDonell Obituary
Herbert Leon MacDonell

- - Herbert Leon MacDonell Age 90, took the low road to Scotland on 11 April 2019, If you do not know the story about "I'll take the high road and you'll take the low road" please read it in remembrance of him. He was born on 23 July 1928 to Leon and Catherine MacDonell. He was graduated from Bolivar Central School in June 1945, a year earlier than planned. He graduated with a BA in chemistry from Alfred University in 1950. He and Phyllis Barbara Austin, his grade school sweetheart, were married on 19 August 1950. MacDonell was appointed Professor of Chemistry at Milton College from 1951-1954. It was very unusual for anyone with only a bachelor's degree to be a full professor and he was also Head of the Chemistry Department.

MacDonell attended graduate school at the University of Rhode Island from 1954-1956 when he received his Master's degree in Analytical Chemistry. Herbert and Phyllis had no children of their own but they unofficially adopted their family of their "chosen" children; ten girls, four boys, and three granddaughters who were the love of their lives. All of them will tell you that they really are our children as we were always very close. Phyllis predeceased Herbert on 22 December 2010.

MacDonell's contributions to the discipline of forensic science include his invention of the MAGNA Brush in 1960. That device revolutionized the processing of latent fingerprints. His seminal research in bloodstain pattern interpretation led the way in what is now recognized as a most significant forensic discipline.

In 1963 MacDonell was the first expert witness to get the Breathalyzer accepted in a New York State County Court (Chemung). In 1964 he was elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Forensic Science. He founded the Bloodstain Evidence Institute in 1973 and conducted seventy-six of these educational programs for over two thousand students from thirty-one countries until 2011.

He was featured in LIFE Magazine in their June 1981 issue with a full page photograph in a two page article written by Shana Alexander. In 1983 MacDonell founded the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern

Analysts, a professional forensic organization which today has over one thousand members in many countries throughout the world.

In 1984 MacDonell was the subject for a casebook written about several of his cases in THE EVIDENCE NEVER LIES, by Alfred Lewis. That book became the alternate selection for Book-of the-Month Club.

MacDonell was greatly honored in 2004 when the University of Rhode Island conferred on him their first doctor of science degree (ScD). It was the first such degree they had ever awarded in their then one hundred and twenty year history. It was one of Herbert's most prized accomplishments.

He was a fifty year member of the Corning Masonic Lodge and in 1994 he was honored by being made a 33'rd degree mason in Cleveland, Ohio. That year there were only six masons in New York State that were so honored.

He was a member of Corning Rotary Club for over forty years.

In 2009 MacDonell was inducted into the Steuben County Hall of Fame.

In 2011 he was the recipient of the prestigious Sullivan Award presented by the Corning Section of the American Chemical Society. This award is named after Dr. Eugene C. Sullivan who was the first industrial research scientist in the United States. It is the ACS Corning Section's highest award.

His book AFTER HOLMES was published in 2011 and is a casebook of his sixty-two years of forensic investigations. It covers his work and testimony in the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, the Black Panther case in 1969, the Jean Harris (Scarsdale Diet Doctor) case in 1980, the OJ Simpson case in 1995, and the Lt. Michael Behenna case in 2008.

Herbert is survived by sister in law: Nancy MacDonell of Bolivar, NY; nephews: Scott (Vivian Ryan) MacDonell of Clifton Springs, NY, Craig MacDonell of Bolivar, NY, along with numerous grand nieces and nephews.

He is predeceased by a brother, Robert MacDonell.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to a .

A private family memorial service will be held at a later date. Arrangements have been entrusted to Phillips Funeral Home & Cremation Service in Corning, NY.
Published in Star-Gazette on Apr. 14, 2019
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