If you had met Jack MacDonald, it might have been easy to assume he was poor; after all, he wore holey sweaters, rode public transportation and clipped coupons. But, as it turns out, this wasn’t exactly true!
Realistically, however, he was worth several million. Additionally, he was passionate about Florida Gators football and Atlanta Braves baseball, as well as closely following the stock market daily.
Early Life and Education
Jack McDonald was an unusual individual – until his death he was widely known for his extreme frugality and lack of means. He would cut coupons, wear sweaters with holes in them and take public transit instead of taxi cabs to reach University of Washington.
Only close family and friends knew of Mr. McDonald’s secret fortune; his will left 40 percent to Seattle Children’s Research Institute, 30 percent to UW Law School, and 30 percent to Salvation Army.
He gave to various causes, such as anonymous gifts to the small Canadian town where both his parents are buried. According to The Times’ reporting, his donations totalled hundreds of thousands.
MacDonald currently serves as Director of Athletic Communications at Southern Miss, overseeing social media and e-commerce for volleyball, men’s basketball and women’s tennis teams. Prior to joining Southern Miss in 2021 he held this same role for one year at American Volleyball Coaches Association where he served as Social Media & E-Commerce Specialist.
In 1923, he helped lead Glace Bay Miners to victory at the Nova Scotia Senior Championship and represented Scotland multiple times on international duty.
MacDonald was a frugal but private individual who cared deeply about both his community and family. Following his death at age 98 in September 2013, his generous trust was divided among Children’s, UW School of Law, and Salvation Army organizations; these will each continue receiving annual income from this trust forevermore.
Achievement and Honors
Jack McDonald was honored by the National Cotton Council with their Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award, presented annually at their annual meeting and accepted on his behalf by Virginia. Virginia accepted this honor on his behalf at that meeting’s 2010 annual meeting.
McDonald spent 20 years as the Director of Athletics at Quinnipiac. He oversaw its transition from Division II to NCAA Division I, secured television, radio, and internet deals for games, built a dual sport facility for basketball and hockey and participated in national committees including serving as Chairman of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Committee.
He was an avid supporter of Florida Gator football and Atlanta Braves baseball, as well as history and family matters.
Mac was passionate about genealogy and was eager to help others locate their ancestry. Additionally, he took great pride in celebrating his Scottish roots.
Though living a frugal life and spending his retirement years in a modest Seattle retirement home, only close friends knew of his fortune. Clipping coupons and wearing sweaters with holes led people to believe he was nearly penniless.
Jack MacDonald left behind an estimated $187 million charitable trust at his death at age 98 in September 2013. It included grants to Seattle Children’s Research Institute, UW School of Law, and The Salvation Army – one of the largest gifts ever given locally in Washington state. Seattle Children’s Research Institute named its cancer and research building after him as part of this gesture.
Jack MacDonald managed to amass an astonishing fortune despite living an apparently modest lifestyle and lacking resources. By investing wisely, he amassed an extraordinary fortune that enabled him to leave behind a remarkable $187 Million charitable trust, of which 40% went directly to Seattle Children’s Research Institute; 30% to the University of Washington School of Law; and the remaining 10% split amongst Salvation Army Northwest Division and Seattle Children’s Research Institute respectively. When he passed away aged 98 he left behind this vast wealth in trust.
No one would expect someone two years shy of 100 to leave such an impressive estate – especially one who lived frugally dressed, took public transport to work, clipped coupons and wore sweaters with holes to work like Jack did – however that was precisely his life mission: sending anonymous donations from his estate back into Elora Canada where his paternal grandfather immigrated from Scotland.