Aonghais 'EWAN' Macdonald passed away at the age of 77 on March 30, 2019 surrounded by his wife, son, and daughter after a long and heroic battle with lung cancer. Ewan was a naturalist from childhood, born during wartime Britain on December 22,1941 in Glasgow, Scotland. He explored the wilderness of wildflowers, birds and butterflies from Perthshire (where he caught his first salmon on a fly at 16 yrs old in the silvery Tay) to his home over the Bolinas Lagoon, California. Making it a life time pursuit, Ewan studied rivers and seas world-wide, mastered the art of fishing, tied his own flies, pursued big-game fish with a rare claim to have caught and released over 100 permit. He led an adventurous life, from his 3-month schoolboy expedition in Arctic Sweden to becoming a man of three continents, living in Europe, Africa and America.
During his rigorous academic and athletic days at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh, Ewan excelled on teams in Birding, Shooting, Stamp Collecting, Fencing, Athletics, Rugby, and served as Head Boy, marking early on his ability to lead. With a Master of Economics from Edinburgh University, Ewan turned to the creativity of advertising that launched his international career at Leo Burnett, London. "In business, Ewan had gravitas from an early age. He was clearly destined for top jobs, but he was full of devilment too. That's what made people want him to win; and to work for him."Ewan served in key positions over 3 decades in offices at London, Johannesburg, Madrid, Lisbon and Chicago. He went on to McCann Erickson, San Francisco; later serving on the client side as Marketing Executive at Del Monte worldwide in 1985. Within two years Ewan rose to be President of Del Monte USA, and later CEO of Del Monte Foods international. Ewan was a talented executive, a strong leader, and a great success.
In 1988, Ewan purchased two dilapidated buildings in downtown Bolinas renovating them into one of the cornerstone gems of the Community, now the Bolinas Museum. Retiring to Bolinas in 1997, he could be found fishing for salmon 66 days/yr and was known to be the most generous and gracious host to even those who had never fished before. Sharing his management and marketing expertise, Ewan served as Board Director for numerous corporate and environmental science organizations including Bank of the West, C&H Sugar, New Orleans based Zatarain's and Reily Foods Company, World Wild Life Fund, California Academy of Sciences, Bolinas Lagoon Foundation, Point Reyes Bird Observatory, and the Haribon Foundation spearheading the return of the Philippines Eagle. Ewan was known to have "the ability to quickly distill seemingly intractable issues down to their root cause and offer elegant solutions that others couldn't see…He never spoke simply to be heard but rather he had objective insights to share or penetrating questions to ask that led to deeper, more meaningful conversations. Ewan was loyal to friends, deeply appreciative of beauty, comfortable with silence, and sensitive to those in need. More of him is needed more than ever today."
Ewan is predeceased by his first wife, Helen, and their son, Calum. He is survived by his wife Kirsten, son Finn, daughter Kate, grandchildren Mac and Libby, and brothers Peter and Neal.
We will remember Aonghais EWAN Macdonald as he saw himself in his business card:
'Scotsman, fisherman, retired ceo, birdwatcher, stamp collector, grandpa, perfect husband and new dad!'
In lieu of flowers or gifts, friends are welcomed to make a named contribution to Point Blue Conservation Science or Bolinas Museum.
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Apr. 5 to Apr. 7, 2019.