James Edward McDonald

January 9, 1947 ~ January 5, 2021 (age 73)


McDonald, James E. - age 73, passed away due to post-Covid complications on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 in Cumming, GA. Jim was born in Springfield, Ohio but Knoxville, Tennessee was home. 


As the son of a football coach, Jim’s athletic career began early. He played little league baseball, basketball, ran track and of course his beloved football. Jim graduated from Young High in 1965 with many state honors and still stayed close with friends over the years.


Following high school, Jim accepted a football scholarship to The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He was a 3 year letterman as a Defensive End making appearances in the Gator Bowl, Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl. The most memorable being a part of the winning 1967 SEC and National Championship team. Jim was also a proud member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He always treasured Tennessee reunions and loved the bond of brotherhood. Jim will always be a proud Vol for Life (VFL).


Jim retired from Norfolk Southern Railway after 39 years of service. His career took him all over the South in positions of trainmaster, assistant Superintendent to Senior Director of Crew Management in Atlanta, which would become home. He received numerous awards but Safety Awards meant the most.


Jim’s past times after retirement were meticulous lawn care, making CD’s for his friends, riding in his car or golf cart with his sidekick Lilly and traveling to the beach and Tennessee football games. Watching the Big Orange was his passion, truly any sport or season would get his attention. Jim loved the Atlanta Braves, watching tennis, and even car racing. Anyone who rode with him will agree he thought he was a NASCAR driver. He was an active volunteer with Lilly in the Humane Hearts Pet Therapy Program of the Forsyth County Humane Society. They made almost 200 visits to Forsyth schools, libraries, summer programs and special events. 


Jim loved his entire family, their pets, his friends and country. Jim touched so many with his kindness, smile, and sense of humor. He loved sunsets with their forever changing colors. On the next one you see, honor him by raising a glass and toast our great man.

“Number 81 in your program, number 1 in our hearts.” 


Jim is survived by his wife Patti; daughters Allison and Amy of Atlanta, GA; his sister, Susie Worley of Ft. Worth, Texas; dog Lilly & grand dog Murphy and a much loved extended family. Jim is preceded in death by his parents, James A. and Billie McDonald.  A Celebration of Life to be held at a later date. In Lieu of flowers, please consider contributions in his name to the Forsyth County Humane Society, Gary Sinise Foundation, or Tennessee Athletics – Annual Fund. 


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