Betsy Anne McDonald
1920 - 2015
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Betsy Anne McDonald Age 95, September 30, 1920 - December 7, 2015. Her loving spirit touched and inspired many people. She raised a large family and fought for social justice and socialism with great energy, optimism and selflessness. She worked in the civil rights, antiwar, labor and immigrant movements; and was a member of the Socialist Workers Party. She served in the Navy in World War II, and was married to Prof. James E. McDonald. She is survived by children, Kirk, Roni, Lee, Nancy, Gail and Jan; grandchildren, Kalani, Alex, Owen, Terra, Ira and Ian; great-grandchildren, Amber, Olivia, Nasir, Nailah and SWP member Willie Cotton. Memorial: Sunday, January 3, 2016, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., San Pedro Chapel, 5230 E. Ft. Lowell Rd. Arrangements by ADAIR FUNERAL HOMES, Dodge Chapel.

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Published in Arizona Daily Star on Dec. 13, 2015.
Memorial service
02:00 - 04:00 PM
Memories & Condolences
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5 entries
April 21, 2016
I knew Betsy from working with her in the student peace association on 6th street in Tucson from 1966 thru 1970. I read her obit and the part I was familar with I concurred. I learned much from Betsy which I applied to the anti apartheid struggle at Berkeley in 1977 and 1985-6. The later struggle resulted in massive divestment from California to South Africa collapsing the nationalist apartheid regime. My work with Betsy involved the anti war efforts in the 1960's. Now we have arrived in the of Bernie Sanders. Betsy McDonald's a historic figure who mentored many an activist like myself.
David Blackman
January 5, 2016
Betsy recruited me to socialism. I will be forever grateful to her. She was wise and caring and one of the most principled people I will ever have the honor to know. She will be missed by many, remembered by many.
barbara greenway
December 31, 2015
I feel fortunate to have known her. Even though I only had brief interactions with her, her power of kindness, justice, perseverance and generosity was strong. She was a true inspiration and always a pleasure to see. Her many positive contributions to this world will live on.
Joy Mockbee
December 31, 2015
I am sorry that I never knew her. How lucky you all were to have a mother with such strong love and commitment to the world.
Carol Schneiderman
December 13, 2015
There are many things about a long life that can't go into a brief obituary. With hope that you will forgive my poor memory for dates, here are a few: She was born in Iowa and grew up on Lomita, California (LA), when it was a small town. She graduated from Berkeley with a major in Food Science, then joined the Navy during World War II. She was stationed in Oklahoma, then Boston. She met our father, James E. McDonald, when she was his student in a meteorology class at MIT. They had their first child in 1945. They lived in Ames, Iowa, while James got his PhD in Meteorological Physics. The family grew to six children by 1953 (I am the youngest). After a brief time in Chicago, they moved to Tucson in 1954. Mom was involved in the Unitarian Church when we were very young, then helped found the Tucson Humanist group, which led to the Junior Humanist school where she taught comparative religions among other things. We have many good memories of the school, potlucks, and the wonderful excursions organized by parents. She was the Mother of the Year in the Daily Citizen (in the early 60s, I think). It's impossible to begin to touch on the many years she spent raising us, cooking meals every day for eight, taking us to music and dance lessons, attending events and going to PTA meetings! She did it with her characteristic tireless energy. While raising us, she was active in civic groups including the League of Women Voters, and helped found the local ACLU. Through the ACLU, she helped defend young black men in the courts and became involved in the fight for Black and Hispanic civil rights. I have an early memory of traveling with her on a bus across the country, and her shock and anger that a young black woman was not allowed to eat in a restaurant along the way. My mother refused to eat there also, and we sat with the woman and talked the whole time. She had a strong inborn sense of justice, and stubborness and courage to go with it! The Vietnam War radicalized her further, and she became convinced that she should fight for socialism. This became what she called her second life project, eventually as a member of the Socialist Workers Party. She helped found and run the Tucson Peace and Freedom group and Venceremos Press on 4th Avenue (and trained herself to be an offset printer, quite an accomplishment!). She lived in several cities in this period, including Phoenix, San Francisco, Portland and Los Angeles. She went to work in an industrial job in her early 60s and continued into her early 70s. She returned to Tucson and remained politically active until the end of her life. She was optimistic about the future, and believed strongly in the importance and goodness of ordinary people. This was not an abstract or intellectual belief; she was always warm and accessible and interested in everyone she met. She was indeed an inspiration to many people, and to family members always a strong and loving presence. She will be missed!
Jan McDonald
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