Toowoomba Region Deputy Mayor, Rebecca Vonhoff has led community tributes to local businessman and international sporting great, John McDonald AM, who passed away last week.
Councillor Vonhoff extended her sympathies on behalf of Council to Mr McDonald’s wife Joan, his son, Toowoomba Region Mayor, Geoff McDonald and his wife Lisa, and the wider McDonald family.
“I offer our condolences to Mr McDonald’s family and friends. We at Council and across the community are deeply saddened to hear of Mr McDonald’s passing and acknowledge his extraordinary service to our Region,” Cr Vonhoff said.
“Our Region is the poorer for having lost Mr McDonald, who will be dearly remembered well beyond our community.
“When people talk about Mr McDonald, they use the words fair, determined, gritty and warm. Mr McDonald lived a big life and left nothing on the field.”
She said Mr McDonald was a highly respected Toowoomba businessman through his family’s long-held printing businesses McDonald and Rosbrook, and later Cracker Print and Paper.
“Beyond his own business interests, he was a well-regarded community member who served as the chairman of the Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland, that was responsible for staging the Toowoomba Royal Show and associated events.”
“He was a familiar and thrilling sight for a generation of rugby league supporters from his days at Toowoomba Valleys (their home ground is the John ‘Cracker’ McDonald Sports Complex) to stints with Manly-Warringah in Sydney and higher honours for Queensland, New South Wales and Australia,” said the Deputy Mayor.
Following a successful playing career, he turned to coaching firstly in Toowoomba before famously coaching Queensland to an historic win in the inaugural State of Origin match against NSW in Brisbane in 1980.
“His passion for the game led him to take administrative roles, including President of the Queensland Rugby League, then Chairman of the QRL and a Director on the Australian Rugby League board. He also served on the game’s international body.”
“His sporting prowess also covered numerous achievements as a professional sprinter.
“While Mr McDonald achieved remarkable success across Australia and internationally, he never forgot his roots or his family back in Toowoomba,” she said.
In an online post, Mayor McDonald (pictured with his dad) paid tribute to his late father.
“As a family we are grateful that Dad gave us the most precious gift of all – time to say good bye,” he wrote.
“The last six weeks have provided us the opportunity that many don’t get and we feel privileged to have been afforded this time.
“John McDonald AM was a remarkable individual who dedicated his life to making a positive impact on the lives of those around him. His legacy will continue to inspire us all.
“My hero and a guiding figure for many.”