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'We lost a good man'

McDonald, 76, gives his last salute

Larry McDonald served as master of ceremonies for this year’s Memorial Day parade, a role he played for many years. Here, he’s overseeing the wreath laying at the Hyker Memorial on Hamilton Street. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
November 16, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Although some disagreed with his views, no one disputes that Laurent E. McDonald did what he loved by spending decades serving the town of Southbridge.

McDonald, who served as a long-time town councilor, School Committee member, former fire captain, and regular Memorial Day master of ceremonies and in numerous other roles, died at home Sunday evening. He was 76.

"The greatest thing I think he did was he'd teach the new councilors to be councilors," said Cable Director Paul Zotos. "I watched him do it year after year. He'd even teach them to oppose him sometimes."

Conrad Vandal was one of those who benefited from such training, and is now the town's longest-serving councilor with about 14 years under his belt. To him, McDonald initially came across as "stern."

"He didn't like fooling around, was a 'get the job done' guy. Right to the point," Vandal said. "But when you really came down to that, he was like a marshmallow once you got to know him and he got to know you."

To Vandal, something McDonald did on many occasions truly demonstrated who he was. Often, when Vandal arrived for council meetings, McDonald was waiting in the parking lot with Vandal's wheelchair, ready to push him up the ramp. He even did so "up to three weeks ago," Vandal observed, noting McDonald was willing to help even while sick and short of breath.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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