Dr. Robin Richard MacDonald

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.

Obit at kccremation


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.

Heather Glee MacDonald Obituary

Heather Glee MacDonald, 86, died peacefully on June 16, 2016 in Overland Park, KS.

Born in Keetmanshoop, South West Africa, she grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and was a Nurse. Becoming the youngest Head Matron ever at Groote Schuur Hospital, she inspired many of her generation to follow in her profession by the compassion and devotion shown her patients. She is survived by her loving husband of 56 years, Robin, daughter Helen Carson (Jeff), son Richard MacDonald (Pearl) of Kansas City, and sister Meg Colleen Arter (John) of Cape Town, South Africa. She was preceded in death by her parents Tom Macready Curtis and Elsie Iris Willmot, sister Elizabeth Donlyn Perry and sister Cathleen Nella Wagenfeld.

She leaves behind a legacy of devotion to family and the grandchildren she loved so dearly – Robyn MacDonald, Winston MacDonald, Grace Carson, Emma Carson and Jacob Carson. After arriving in Kansas City in 1978, she was active in the community helping those who are most vulnerable and under- served, a passionate advocate of justice. She enjoyed a lifelong love of nature, gardening, sewing, in time becoming a prize- winning doll maker, and relished staying in touch with the family that had spread around the world. She is remembered near and far for her marvelous sense of humor and her gentle touch for all animals, especially the MacDonald Labradors who knew they’d hit the jackpot! Her kindness and compassion, grace and bravery are an inspiration to all she touched.

Honoring her wishes for a private family service, she is lovingly remembered for a life lived with dignity and purpose. Cremation Society of Kansas & Missouri, 8837 Roe Avenue, Prairie Village, KS 66207, 913-383-9888. www.kccremation.com

Published in Kansas City Star on June 22, 2016

Heather MacDonald – Norwegian Doll

My Mom is a master dollmaker, and I was taking some photos of her dolls when we came across an old article she wrote for Doll Crafter magazine. I figured I’d scan the text and photos, so here it is. First, the pages from the original article. Second, the text and enlarged pictures.


The dollmakers in the Kansas City area know and respect Heather MacDonald for her fabulous costuming of dolls and the fact that she is such a nice person. Her interest in dollmaking and costuming began in the mid 1980s when a friend of hers wanted to buy a Christening gown for her grandchild. Heather looked at the simple gown with its steep price and thought she could make a lovely one for her own grandchildren. There had been an heirloom Christening gown in her own family. This gown turned out beautifully and she got the idea that it should be displayed on a life-sized doll. In the hunt for a doll she came across the doll studio of ThuTam Freeman in Parkville, MO. She signed up for a class and was so excited to be able to make a doll for the gown and was “hooked” from that time on. She has continued to take classes and make beautiful dolls and lovely costumes for them. She especially loves the research and finding out the history that is intertwined with the costuming. We look forward to having more articles from this talented costumer in Doll Crafter. – Editor
I began the love of sewing and needlework as a child. My three sisters and I were taught the fine art of stitching by our mother. We learned to embroider and many other fine hand sewing techniques. I love traveling and studying the history of the areas that I have visited. It is so satisfying to me when I research a specific type of costume and then follow through on the creation of it.

This adventure began ages ago when the picture of an intriguing Folk Costume appeared in ‘What Dolls Wore Before’, a doll auction catalog and reference book for costumes by Theriault’s. I could just see a small girl all dressed up in that outfit and cute little bonnet, her fair curls shining against the dark fabric. I set out to find out more and it was a long journey. Mildred Seeley wrote that you should, “Always make your dolls as authentic as possible.” It some times takes a lot of hunting for information to accomplish this.

The original doll costume in that auction catalog had been labeled ‘Eastern Europe’, but it was not to be found anywhere there. The hunt for “my” costume that had started in the East, took me all the Way West to the North Sea. I came across dolls by Ronnaug Petterssen of Nolway on page 113 of the book titled “European Costumed Dolls” by Polly and Pam Judd. These were a boy and girl from the l930s in stylized folk costumes of the Hallingdal Region of Norway. The embroidery on both costumes was made with Wool threads. It was known as ROSEAUM embroidery in the Hallingdal River Valley region of southern Norway. This Was so lovely; I just had to reproduce these costumes for my dolls. All of those hours of leaming to embroider as a child were put to good use making these Folk costumes for my dolls. The dolls that I chose were both made from the same mold, the Sonnenberg Child that was a special DAG Convention mold by Seeley’s.

These costumes have used phrases such as Ethnic, Native Ethnic, Festival, Folk, Folkloric, Peasant, Regional and even National. No one word describes them all, but they do have much in common with other nearby countries of Europe, where many of these costumes have disappeared from everyday wear. Norway continues to have a very important place for their Regional Folk costumes. They are worn on very special celebration days such as weddings, Christenings, other celebrations and especially on May 16, which is the Norwegian Independence Day.

In days past Embroiderers and Textile Makers could have made the costumes from the different regions. The tradition of making these costumes has been handed down to each generation and a very particular style was adopted for each region. There are handwork guilds set up in each region and they govern the design, fabrics, embroidery thread, colors and other parts of the costumes. It is to protect the design of the costume and keep them all uniform. The Norwegians are extremely proud of their Regional Folk Costumes, which are called Bunads.

Silver jewelry is a very important element in many of the Folk costumes. The designs of pins, clasps and other jewelry were developed over time and adopted with the advent of the final design of the Bunad or Folk costume. There are Folk costumes for the men, with knickers as a choice. If they prefer, they can Wear long pants instead.

I used some design elements from the costume in Theriault’s book and some from the Petterssen’s doll costumes. It is very difficult to include all of the detailed work on a costume so much smaller than that of a person. But by including the most important elements in the right proportions, you too can make your very own treasure.

1. What Dolls Wore Before by Theriau1t’s.
2. European Costumed Dolls by Polly & Pam Judd
3. Norwegian Bunads by Kjersti Skavhaug