Alexander Daniel MacDonald

Date of Birth

April 8th, 1923

Date of Death

February 5th, 2005

Memorial Meeting

Palo Alto Friends Meeting


Alexander Daniel MacDonald was born on April 8, 1923 in Sydney, Nova Scotia to Daniel Malcolm and Alexandrina (MacLeod) MacDonald. His father was the captain of a coastal steamer which supplied towns along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. His sisters, Lillian Hardisty of Port Richey, Florida and Pearl MacKeen of Scarborough, Ontario and his brothers, Donald MacDonald of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and Robert MacDonald of Englishtown, Nova Scotia all predeceased him. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 58 years, Lois; daughter and son-in-law, Muriel and Dick Oglesbee of Mountain View, California, daughter, Susan MacDonald of Victoria, British Columbia and Englishtown, Nova Scotia; son Robert MacDonald of San Rafael, California, son and daughter-in-law Daniel and Laura MacDonald of Glendale, California, grandsons Alexander, Andrew, and Robert Willey of Victoria, British Columbia. Alex passed away peacefully at home on February 5, 2005 in Redwood City at the age of 81.

Alex grew up in Sydney, Nova Scotia and received his B.S. in mathematics and M.S. in physics from Dalhousie University in Halifax. He met Lois, who was a student at Acadia University, through Alex’s younger brother. She later enrolled at Dalhousie University. He and Lois were married on May 1, 1946 at the Sydney Baptist Church and then soon moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where Alex completed his Ph.D. in physics at M.I.T. in two years. The topic of his dissertation was about gaseous exchanges in various liquids. Much later in 1966 he authored a book titled Microwave Breakdown in Gases which was based on his earlier work at M.I.T. After finishing his Ph.D., he and Lois moved back to Halifax where Alex taught mathematics and physics at Dalhousie. They moved to Palo Alto in 1965 when Alex accepted a job as Chief Scientist at the Lockheed Palo Alto Research Center. He retired from Lockheed in 1981, but still consulted on physics projects until 1992. Over the years Alex and Lois enjoyed both square dancing and international folk dancing.

When Alex was at M.I.T. he and Lois began attending the Friends Meeting at Cambridge and they soon became members. There was no Meeting in Halifax, so Lois and Alex began a small worship group there which first met in their home, moved to the YMCA and then to a grammar school, and eventually the Meeting became established and bought their own Meetinghouse. That happened just about the time that Alex and Lois moved to California. Today the Halifax Meeting is thriving and healthy and has established two worship groups. During those years Alex was a strong voice opposing above ground nuclear testing. He spoke about his opposition on television. Alex transferred his membership from Cambridge to Palo Alto in 1965. He served as clerk of the Palo Alto Friends Meeting on two occasions. He was clerk in 1967/68 during a time when the Meeting was struggling with whether or not to give sanctuary to a young man who had deserted the military. Alex felt the Meeting should not break any laws in this regard. He served again from 1972 to 1974. Alex also served the Meeting as the clerk of the Finance committee, as a member of the Worship and Ministry committee, helped fix the retreat house at Ben Lomond Quaker Center with Paul Brink, and helped raise money for Friends Committee on Legislation when the Harvest Festival was held at Hidden Villa. He and Lois provided the materials and led a Bible and Jesus study group which met at the home of Stratton and Maureen Jaquette. The group met periodically for weekly sessions about two months in duration over a period of several years in the early 1980’s. These sessions were always enlightening and much appreciated for those who attended.

Alex was a good friend to many in our Meeting and will be long remembered.