Gene L MacDonald, 85, of Zanesville passed away on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at Genesis Hospital.
He was born June 3, 1931 to E.A. and Isabelle Means MacDonald, in Ellwood City, PA, the eldest of 10 children. Volunteering was a way of life for him, starting at a very early age. He was a batboy, then manager of various football, basketball and baseball teams. He also was the sports reporter for the local paper for high school sports. He became Sunday School Superintendent at age 15. In the 8th grade he was recognized with the American Legion Award for citizenship and kept that award on his desk throughout all of his working years. He was President of the Hi-Y Club.
He graduated from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA majoring in journalism. He was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. He married Betty Lee Boots on July 14, 1951. He worked afternoon or night shifts at the steel mill while attending college. In college he was the radio broadcaster for basketball games and announcer for football games.
After he received his degree, he left the steel mill, taking a $30 per week pay cut to do newspaper reporting for the Youngstown Vindicator, Ellwood City Ledger and Newcastle News while wife Betty worked at a toy factory and grocery store. Gene began Chamber of Commerce work at Clarion, PA in 1955 working on business promotions, industrial financing and major highway developments, including a second PA Turnpike, which later became I-80. He won a scholarship to attend a program at Yale for Chamber executives (followed by later training at Syracuse University, Michigan State and University of Oklahoma.)
The MacDonalds moved to Pottsville, PA for another Chamber job and again he worked on the I-80 expressway thru the coal region. In 1960 he worked for the Shenango Valley Chamber in Sharon, PA and at this time moved to the Industrial Development Corporation, which bought land, helped finance new plants, worked on the I-79 and Beaver Valley Expressway Projects, including the I-79/I-80 intersection and events with governors of Ohio (Rhodes) and PA (Ray Shafer).
In June of 1966 the MacDonalds moved to Zanesville to work with the Zanesville Industrial Program (ZIP) Board, which expanded from 9 to 24 members including city and county representatives. With the help of 5 local financial institutions, acreage in north Zanesville was secured for the current industrial park and business developments. Initial work was to fill vacant local buildings, Mosaic Tile, David Davies Meat, National Plumbing and Roseville Pottery. Later new projects included Mid-Atlantic Canners and StaFresh Buns (Wendy’s). County revenue bond financial assistance helped numerous companies such as Longaberger, and Hartstone along with others. He was 1 of only 226 certified Industrial Developers in the USA.
In 1967 Gene helped form the 8 county Tuscarawas Valley Advisory Committee to handle Appalachia regional commission projects and he became its first president, serving for 30 years. He thought of himself as a “Product of Appalachia.” He assisted with fundraising for the vocational/technical schools, health departments, hospitals, water and sewer systems, access roads, prisons, child development services, revolving loan funding and regional cooperation. TVRAC became Omega and expanded to include 10 counties. In 1974 he was involved with the formation of the Ohio Regional Education Service Agency and also multi-county health planning agencies dealing with nursing homes, emergency medical programs, health departments, etc. He helped form the Muskingum County Health Planning Agency and served as secretary. For this regional service he was honored by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) with the Nick Salazar Award in 1993 as outstanding board member of a regional development organization. In 1998 Gene was awarded the John Whisman Vision Award. He served as a trustee on the Muskingum Area Technical College for 36 years, now Zane State College, including 4 years as Board Chairman. In recognition for his service a street was named for him at the Advanced Science and Technology Center. He helped form the Ohio Association of Community Colleges in 1993 and was the first recipient of the Maureen Grady Award for special achievement in 1995.
The next chapter began as Director of Planning for Bethesda Hospital. His first big project was with Kerry Green for the planning and implementation of the Fitness Trail. He was involved with strategic planning including the physicians pavilion and he went on to become director of Physician Recruitment. Gene brought numerous specialists to the community before retiring 12/30/2000. He remained active with Immanuel Church, MATC/ZSC, and Mended Hearts Chapter 51, serving as program chair for many years. He made many, many mended hearts visits and had first hand experience from the patient point of view, encouraging others to receive chapter newsletters and information, even taking reference materials on vacations to pass along to others in need. In 1977 he suffered a severe heart attack. On 6/3/1993 he had a sudden death experience at the Memorial Tournament, leading to quadruple bypass and implantation of a defibrillator. The Heartwalk was another of his supported charities and in 2005 he was the top individual fundraiser.
At Immanuel Church he served as chair of the search committee for a new pastor. He and Betty were responsible for many activities including soup for seniors, a Philichristi Group of 60 members and a Birthday and Blessings project. He was involved in regional and statewide search committees, general synod participation, development committees, regional mission priority board and church choir.
He belonged to Zanesville Country Club for 39 years, was a former board member of United Way, active in city improvement projects and school issues and Muskingum County Health Department and supported many other charitable institutions.
He was preceded in death by his parents, 4 brothers (Charles, Tom, Terry and Jim MacDonald) and two grandsons, Ryan Longstreth and Shayne MacDonald.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Betty, of the home and children Pat Longstreth Heinzman (Robert), Chris Smith (Les), Timothy MacDonald, and Stacey MacDonald (Todd Patterson.). Also surviving are grandchildren Cara Dodson (Judd), Harmony Longstreth, Mason Smith,
Jamie Zochi (Mark), Devin MacDonald, Maili MacDonald, and great-grandchildren Morgan Longstreth, Drake Dodson and Kinley Dodson. Also surviving are 3 brothers, Jack MacDonald (Arlene), Connie MacDonald (Lori), Merel MacDonald (Kathy), 2 sisters, Blanche Novak and Joylee McCaughtry (Jerry), two sisters in law, Susan Boots and Joyce Boots, and a special niece, Jan Supan (Jeff).
Calling hours will be from 12-3 pm on Saturday, May 20, 2017 at Bolin-Dierkes Funeral Home, 1271 Blue Avenue, Zanesville, OH, followed by a Memorial Service at 3 pm with Pastor Mitch Reed officiating.
In lieu of flowers please donate to one of the following charities:
Ryan Longstreth Light the Hill, 534 Putnam Av, Zanesville, OH 43701
Mended Hearts Chapter 51, 2035 Shady Lane, Zanesville, OH 43701
Zane State College, 1555 Newark Rd, Zanesville, OH 43701
Immanuel Church, 105 South Seventh St, Zanesville, OH 43701
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