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James E. McDonald


Last updated 11/9/2018 at 9:51am

A big part of Fallbrook's history in the avocado industry passed away on Oct. 24, 2018. James E. McDonald was born on McDonald Road during the Depression year of 1931.

His father, Baylis M. McDonald, owned an 80 acre avocado farm surrounding the still-standing McDonald home place at the end of McDonald Road. Many of the groves in San Diego, Riverside, and other counties originated with his nursery. James, the second son, grew up tending avocados and developed a lifelong love and interest in cultivating them.

After graduating from Fallbrook High School he studied journalism at UC Berkeley. He then joined the Army, where he taught map reading and orienteering to the troops at Fort Ord. Following military service he earned his B.S. in fruit sciences at Cal Poly Pomona.

After working as a chemist for Sunkist and a technical writer at Beckman Instruments, he returned to his roots in Fallbrook, working for Calavo as a grove manager. In 1972, he started his own agricultural consulting business, McDonald Agriscience.

Over the years he helped many grove owners in the USA, Israel, and Mexico produce the healthiest and most abundant crops possible through laboratory services, consultation, and disease management. He also enabled the Metropolitan Water District pipeline to be put through, by protecting the groves along its path from contagious root rot.

At the age of 77, he retired and enjoyed life with his wife of 52 years, Virginia A. McDonald. At 87, he died peacefully with his family at his side. According to his request, his body was donated to the UCSD Medical School.

He will be remembered for his knowledge, wisdom, sense of humor, and prowess at Scrabble tournaments. He is survived by his brother, Michael B. McDonald, and his children, Lisa and Rod McDonald and his daughter-in-law Darla McDonald.

He was preceded to Heaven by his wife, Virginia McDonald, son Robert B. N. McDonald, brothers Morse McDonald and George McDonald, mother Opal Hedrick McDonald and father Baylis McDonald.


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