Obituary: Donald Charles McCormack
He was born Oct. 1, 1930, in St. Louis, Mo., the son of Royden Charles McCormack and Loraine Powers. His father was a contractor and mother one of the first women to graduate from Northwestern University. He attended schools in St. Louis and graduated from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1951 with a degree in chemical engineering. He was a Sigma Nu.
He took a job with Shell Oil Co. – for which his parents had to sign their approval because he was not yet 21 – at the St. Louis area Wood River Refinery. He married Marion Robinson of St. Louis on June 6, 1952; they had three children and later divorced.
Don worked for Shell the next 38 years in various management positions and lived in Pleasantville, N.Y., Danville, Calif., and Houston, Texas. In 1962 his young family lived one year in The Hague, Netherlands, when he was selected for an executive exchange program between Shell Oil and Royal Dutch Shell. Through his accomplished career he held a number of senior positions in refinery management and refining and marketing. He twice worked in Shell’s longtime New York City head office and later transferred from California to Houston when the headquarters moved there.
He married Diane Young on Aug. 23, 1975, in Weatherly, Pa., and they lived in Houston, before he retired in 1989, and they moved to their new house in Truckee.
In “retirement” Don turned his considerable energies toward local government and community service. He was elected to two terms on the Truckee Town Council (1994-2002) and was Mayor of Truckee in 1996 and again in 2001. He served as board president of the Tahoe Donner Association and Truckee Donner Land Trust. He was a board member of the Truckee River Watershed Advisory Group, Nevada County Solid Waste Commission, Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission, League of California Cities Task Force and a number of other government committees.
Typical of Don’s resilient, “stick with it” nature and his continuing desire to give back to his community, many of his civic contributions came after an unsuccessful bid for re-election in 2002. In recognition of his ongoing efforts, in 2003 the Truckee Rotary Club awarded him its “Service Above Self Award.” Later taking on one of his more difficult assignments, at the time of his death he was chairman of the Airport Community Advisory Team planning the future of Truckee’s busy, contentious airport. He was known for his fair, balanced, prepared and thoughtful ways.
Don was a lifelong tennis player and skier and enjoyed backpacking, cooking, Dachshunds, duplicate bridge, card and board games, and riding his Harley-Davidson. He’d had successful heart stent surgery in May and enjoyed a motorcycle ride up Mount Rose on Father’s Day the week before his death. He was a people person with friends from all walks of life, was young at heart, cheerful and a wonderful host. He was proud of his wife and children, and happy beyond words with his retirement life in Truckee.
He is survived by his wife Diane of Truckee, children Bruce McCormack of Cody, Wyo., Dan (Joan) McCormack of Austin, Texas, and Mary Beth (Tom) Gear of Keller, Texas, grandchildren Molly Morehouse, Kerri, Davis and Woody McCormack, and Kristi, Ashley and Lauren Gear, sister Ann (Tom) Powell of Charlotte, N.C., sister-in-law Beverly Morgan of Ohio, and many nieces and nephews.
Cremation has taken place and a reception-memorial for family and friends will be at one of Don’s favorite places – his home – at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 30. The Town of Truckee is planning a public ceremony to honor him at Town Hall on Sunday, July 22.
Memorial contributions may be made to Truckee Donner Land Trust , 19069 West River St., Truckee, 96161; or Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, P.O. Box 971, Truckee, 96160.
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Friends of the Truckee Library gave a presentation at Tuesday’s Truckee Town Council meeting, providing an update on work to ensure a new library while asking for further support for the project.