Thaddeus Arnell McDonald was born in Cedar Creek, Texas on October 1, 1932. He was the youngest of 10 children from Oscar and Virgie McDonald, rural farmers in Bastrop County. His early life was on the family farm and consisted of caring for livestock and excelling at school.
He was raised in a strong Christian family and professed hope in Christ at an early age. He was baptized on July 7, 1943 at the Hopewell Baptist Church in Cedar Creek, Texas.
As a teen-ager he moved to Austin and became a proud 1951 graduate of the Old L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas, whose mascot was the Yellow Jackets. Thaddeus was the first of his siblings to go to college. He was a Jesse Jones Agricultural Scholarship recipient which allowed him to graduate with a BS in Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology from Prairie View A&M on May 15, 1955. He also received the Giannini Foundation Fellowship which allowed him to continue with graduate studies at the University of Berkley, California in 1955.
In October 23, 1956, he entered the U.S. Marine Corps in San Francisco, California. He received military training at Camp Pendleton, California. He was released from military duty on October 22, 1958 with the rank of a Corporal.
He married Mary L. McShan on March 11, 1957. Their union thrived for over 60 years. He later received his Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from Prairie View A&M in August 1960.
Thaddeus returned to Texas and became a County Agricultural Extension Service Agent in Lee County in Giddings Texas. He later transferred to Travis County, Texas. It was in this role that he became a local TV personality hosting the show Agri-Today for many years. During the latter part of his career as a County Agricultural Extension agent, he won the Superior Service Award, the highest accolade any Agricultural Extension Agent can receive. After 27 years in the Extension Service he retired at 57 years old.
He was the proud grandson of the largest African-American landowner in Bastrop County during the 1920 and 1930s, Martin McDonald. He inherited parcels of land in Cedar Creek, TX and expanded them by purchasing more land holdings throughout his lifetime. He was a pioneer in the business of rural houses construction for rental purposes. He believed that there would be unlimited demand for housing in rural areas. So, he built many rental homes from which he generated post retirement income. Many of his relatives and neighbors in the Cedar Creek area followed suit after consulting with him.
Thaddeus was a historian and author of two books, African-Americans: A Blessing to the Nation and Episodes in Irony, which reside at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
Thaddeus and Mary have been faithful servants of First Baptist Church on Heflin Lane for nearly fifty years. He served as Sunday School Teacher and Superintendent, Deacon, choir member, Trustee, Steward and Minister of Christian Education. He answered God’s call to preach and was officially ordained on April 30, 1995.
He is survived by his brother, Lawrence McDonald, children, Thaddeus McDonald Jr. and Mayerland Harris, grand- children Brandon Harris, Ashley Harris, and Michelle McDonald.