Dr. Robin Richard MacDonald, died peacefully just shy of his 83rd birthday in Leawood. He is survived by daughter Helen Carson (Jeff), and son Richard MacDonald (Pearl) of Kansas City, and grandchildren Robyn MacDonald, Winston Mac-Donald, Grace Carson, Emma Carson and Jacob Carson. He was preceded in death by his wife Heather Glee two years ago, and parents Hector and Francina.
He was born in Bloemfontein, and grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. After attending U.C.T, he began his residency in Radiology at Groote Schuur Hospital where he met a Head Matron named Heather Glee Curtis. His studies and teaching took him to universities in Durban, Melbourne, Adelaide, and London, where he was a Fellow of the Royal Faculty of Radiologists in Great Britain.
After immigrating with the family to America in 1977, he was on the staff of the Cleveland Clinic before moving to Kansas City, where he practiced at Baptist Memorial Medical Center until 2003. He then joined the St. Luke’s Hospital Plaza team. From reading the letters from colleagues and patients that he kept, his dedication to medicine and his compassionate care of patients was the cornerstone of his purpose. One letter from the Director of Radiology in Adelaide noted ‘he could be diplomatic or forthright as required, but seemed to have the happy knack of knowing when either was called for’. Upon occasion, his students and children might recall the latter!
He grew up loving sports, and captained the cricket team for U.C.T. He played 12 first-class international cricket matches in the 1950s, representing the SA Universities team against Australia, New Zealand, and the West Indies. In 1956, he scored a decisive 29 in the final game to win the Currie Cup for Western Province.
After the loss of his leg at age 26 as a result of a blood clot ended his cricket career, he began a lifelong love of golf. He twice reached the semi-final of the Natal Province Amateur annual competition with a 2-handicap, scoring an albatross. In South Africa, he was a three-term President of The Royal Durban Golf Club.
He eagerly adopted all American sports with equal zeal, and relished a full weekend of sports with the family over to enjoy golf and the KC and KU teams. In later years, he was avid follower of the PGA.
After initially retiring at age 65, he joined the St Luke’s South Goppert Center for Breast Care. He was passionate about providing dignified diagnosis for appreciative patients. He enjoyed a very happy decade of working 6 days a week in the morning, playing golf and gin rummy with friends as a member of Indian Hills Country Club, and attending grandchild academic and athletic events with love and quiet pride.
‘Oupa’, as he was affectionately known by his grandchildren, was a kind and generous man, devoted to his family. His quick wit, big heart, and bad jokes were legendary, and his friends and extended family remember him as honorable above all else. A soft touch for all animals, the MacDonald Labradors knew they had hit the jackpot.
After caring for Heather, it was his turn with Parkinson’s. Robin went peacefully in his sleep to be reunited with his beloved wife for their 59th wedding anniversary.
Honoring his wishes, he will be lovingly remembered at a family memorial service. Donations can be made to St Luke’s South Goppert Center for Breast Care Fund at St Luke’s Foundation, 4225 Baltimore Ave, KCMO, 64111.
I added the following as a personal note when I shared this to facebook:
I have never forgotten for a second how lucky I was to get my parents. I never saw them argue. And I never won a single argument because they just were never wrong. My Dad was gone for months and years at a time preparing to leave the country. And when he was home, wherever we went he ran into a good friend. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. A man who filled the room and made people laugh. My favorite memory is of him giving the annual New Year’s dinner speech at the club with everyone in the palm of his hand! I got to hang out in the parking lot afterparties with the world’s best rugby players and cricketers. We were big fish in a really nice pond.
Life was pretty good when we came to States as well. We had season tickets to the Royals in their prime, froze our asses off in the nosebleed Chiefs sections, and spent all weekend watching sports on TV, and playing golf together. I never had a fight with my parents. I just got to listen, observe and learn. Lucky lucky lucky!
When the kids left home, my Mom become a world class dollmaker, as well as a gardener. My Dad continued to play golf and gin rummy, and loved his work. My God, doctors work hard! Gone by 7 in the morning. Home at 7 at night. 3 nights a week on call. Working every Saturday. Week in week out. He knew his medical victories and died every time he made a mistake. He finally “retired” so he continue to work “half time” on his own time. Never again to feel the pressure of the clock. For the next decade he was gone every morning, finishing early afternoon, and hanging out with the boys at Indian Hills until the evening. His reward for a lifetime of commitment to others without complaint.
My Mom’s cancer diagnosis forced him to quit the next day and figure out caretaking. And that was the beginning of the decline because he was such a social animal, and my Mom hated to be dependent and know what it was costing him. Still, they made the best of it, as one must, and only asked for help when it was absolutely necessary. And it was also the start of my nightly calls to my Dad which lasted anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours depending on how interesting the subject. The most popular subjects were in-depth analyses of something his grandchildren were going through. Other times it was simply a laughing “Pretty good day. Nice to not have anything needing to talk about.” Every once in a while it was tech support for his computer, which was so infuriating I always eventually just gave up and drove over there to fix it.
Both my parents had great lives. As medical people, they had zero bullshit tolerance about their ends. And those were good too. You just can’t get luckier than that.