Melvin McDonald ('40)

Basketball - Football - Track & Field

Melvin McDonald - Hall of FameThough Melvin "Sweet Pea" McDonald (C'40) barely tipped the scales at 155 pounds, the 6'1", three sport student-athlete carried a tremendous amount of weight in the University of Dubuque sports programs. During his tenure as a Spartan he earned 11 varsity letters - four in basketball, four in track, and three in football.

On the football field he was a tenacious tackler in the linebacking core as well as the center on the offensive line. "Sweet Pea" served as captain of the men's basketball team in 1939 and excelled in the javelin never placing lower than third in a conference meet. McDonald's contributions as a Spartan athlete exceed points scored, tackles made, and distances thrown; he was a player known and respected for his unselfishness, reliability, dedication, and durability by both teammates and coaches.

McDonald graduated from UD in the spring of 1940 marking the beginning of a 39 year career in education. His career took him from classrooms in Iowa to Arizona and back home to Iowa where he retired from the Des Moines Public School District in 1979. He served as principal at the high school, junior high, and elementary levels. He also spent time as a special education teacher and taught several other subjects at all levels. He also dedicated his time coaching football, boys/girls basketball, baseball, and track. 

"Sweet Pea" was inducted in the United States Army five months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and assigned to the 11th Armored Division under the command of General George S. Patton. During World War II he was in the "Battle of the Bulge", served as Staff Sergeant, and helped liberate "Mauthausen Nazi Concentration Camp" at the end of WWII in 1945. 

McDonald married fellow UD graduate Dorthy (Boyd) (C'41) who passed away before his return from deployment overseas. Following his service in WWII he married Alice (Stump). Together they raised two sons and a daughter as well as seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. The McDonald family has kept the UD tradition alive. His son Kevin is a University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (UDTS) Class of 1992 graduate and grandson Jeff, is in his first year of the UDTS program. 

Melvin continues to be an active member of the Douglas Avenue Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, Iowa. A church he might add, "that has been served by four pastors, three who were trained at by the UDTS, as is the current pastor the Rev. Claude J. Jones (UDTS Class of 1969).