The Journal Express
---- — James Donald McClure, 86, died of natural causes on March 3, 2014, in the presence of loving family members. Born June 2, 1927, in Knoxville, to James Wren McClure and Agnes Catherine Lee, Donald was the middle sibling to brother John Robert “Jack” (Wilma) McClure of Lovilia, and sister Patricia (John) Campana of Sun City West, Ariz. He enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and was deployed to the Philippines as a SeaBee (Construction Battalion) member. Returning home to Knoxville, he married Roberta Ann Thompson on Oct. 18, 1948. Donald worked for Northland (later Flynn) Dairy, and he and Ann raised six children.
The family moved to south Des Moines in 1968, a few years later relocating to Urbandale. Donald continued working for the dairy, retiring after 25 years. He took up part time work as a school-bus driver. He and Ann began to welcome grandchildren to the McClure clan, and their home was a bustling gathering place. They affectionately became “Papa” and “Andy.”
Ann’s job with the IRS offered the opportunity to move around the country, and in 1987 the couple headed to Terrell, Texas, where they built a house and began new hobbies, including Donald’s training and showing of their two Giant Schnauzers. From Texas, they moved to Bountiful, Utah, where Donald trained and showed horses and rode his beloved horse, J.R., given to him by Jack and Wilma.
When Ann retired, they packed again and moved to “Misty Meadows,” outside Winlock, Wash., which came to be known as “the mini-farm” by their children and grandchildren. Donald planted an extensive garden and continued to train colts and show them. He and Ann spent many a day industriously pursuing their hobbies and chores. Papa built miniature red barns for grandchildren and was known to patiently guide the youngsters as they tried their hands at his workbench.
The couple moved to Seattle in 1998, settling in Ballard, within easy distance of five of their children. The rainy winters provided a perfect excuse to spend time with their sixth offspring in Phoenix. Family was an important focus, and all their years were packed with camping trips, bike and horseback riding, cribbage-playing, hiking, star-gazing, bird-watching, dahlia-tending, music-playing, volunteering and too-many-to-count baseball, soccer, football, volleyball, track, swim, choir, dance and school events of 13 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. In 2006, they enjoyed a trip to Ireland with extended family. The next year, the McClure clan gathered in Seattle to mark Papa’s 80th birthday.
All his life, Papa cheered on his family, always lending encouragement and seeking to find the positive. He was a man whose Catholic faith was apparent in his daily selfless life. His gentleness and sweet nature were models for all who shared time with him. We treasure the memories of his soft laugh, sparkling eyes and kind words.
Donald was preceded in death by his son John Matthew McClure, who died at birth July 15, 1958, and his son Thomas Girard (Jennifer) McClure, Seattle, who died Nov. 16, 2013. He is survived by his wife Ann; children Margaret “Peg” Lynn Straus, Phoenix; Patrick Joseph (Liz) McClure, Phoenix; Debra Lee McClure, Bellevue; James Daniel (Robbi) McClure, Seattle; Mary Louis McClure, Seattle; 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Donald was a longtime, passionate volunteer at Boys & Girls Club, and the family encourages donations to that organization in lieu of flowers. Papa’s ashes will be buried at the Greenwood Cemetery, Knoxville, at a future date.