McDONALD, Bill (1916-1993)

President 1963-1964; 1968-1969; Patron 1985-1990; Museum Curator; Publications Officer. Honorary Life Member 1978

LONG TIME WORKERS FOR THE SOCIETY: As stated in our annual report our valuable members. Edgar Beale and W. G. McDonald were elected honorary life members at the December meeting. Both men have a record of some thirty years of membership, almost all of which have been spent as council members. holding office of one sort or another; of frequently addressing the Society giving the results of depth of researches and of frequently writing articles and books on Australian events.

W. G. "Bill" McDonald, B.A., LL.B. took up membership of the Society in 1951, becoming a councillor the same year and from 1954 has served an unbroken term as Councillor of the Society whilst occupying many offices as well. He became senior vice president in 1960 and, after the two year rule was introduced in 1962 became president for 1962 and 64 and again for 1968 and 69. At the close of his first presidential term he became secretary of the Society in 1965 and wrote the sesquicentenary brochure "Earliest lllawarra,'' a valuable source book recently reprinted. He served as museum curator in 1966.

His wide knowledge gained him many awards on the Bob Dyer show which included a world tour which he put to good use in gathering information about Lawrence Hargrave of Stanwell Park which he presented in book form as one of the many publications he has prepared for the Society. Mr. McDonald has served as bulletin editor for the years 1966 to March 1968 and from May 1973 to February 1978, a period of seven years in all. The Society looks forward to Mr. McDonald's continuing work in the historical field and we express to him our congratulations on his many achievements.

Illawarra Historical Society Bulletin June. 1979 27


WILLIAM GRAHAM McDONALD (1916-1993) was born in Sydney on 22 December 1916 to William McDonald and Beatrice Hancox.  He spent most of his childhood and youth at Eastwood. He attended Eastwood Public School and Fort Street Boys' High, followed by Sydney University.

Early in 1940, after graduating in Arts and Law, he enlisted in the Army, and served in the Middle East, Greece, and Crete. From there he was lucky to escape after a hair-raising few days of hiding from German strafing by day and travelling across the mountains by night. Later he returned to Australia and spent the last part of the war in Melbourne at the Directorate of Research, that rather eccentric section of the Army famous at the moment as the birth place of the Ern Malley hoax.

While in Melbourne he met Joan MacCallum, whom he married in 1946. For a few years after the war he worked in Sydney until in 1950 he began his own practice in Wollongong. He and Joan joined the I.H.S. in 1951, and in 1954 he was elected to the Council of the Society, on which he served for many years in various capacities until forced by ill health to retire. He also edited the Bulletin for lengthy periods. His booldets on various aspects of Illawarra 's history, published by the Society, form a valuable contribution to local historical research.

Other special interests were railways, the American Civil War and of course Scottish history, and his wide general knowledge enabled him to win a number of quiz contests beginning with one connected with war loans (Gough Whittam was runner-up!) and progressing through Bob Dyer's Pick-a-Box to the A.B.C.'s Mastermind in 1981.

In 1978 he was made an Honorary life member for outstanding service to the Society, and in 1985 was elected as one of the patrons. Although over the past few years ill health prevented him from taking any active part in the Society, he retained almost to the time of his death a keen interest in its activities and in news of the many friends he had made among the members. Bill died 16 August 1993.

Margaret McDonald

Illawarra Historical Society Bulletin November 1993