John McDonald

John Wesley McDonald

Monday, April 4th, 1983 - Friday, December 11th, 2020
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John Wesley McDonald, 37, of Pensacola, FL, passed away on December 11, 2020 with his mother and sister by his side.

John attended Pearl Nelson Preschool and later graduated from Westgate. He worked for a time at Pollack Industries and volunteered at Sacred Heart Hospital. But his real calling was to live as a heart worker, connecting cheerfully with others and beaming his big smile to everyone he met. His joy was irresistible, his love was supremely gentle, authentic, and pure, and he gave ‘the best hugs.’

A man of many nicknames – brother, partner, ‘dude’ – John lived above all, as a lover of life: of people and parties, Uno championships, bowling, root beer, and golf. He delighted in Walker Texas Ranger and all rugged men who seek justice. For over two decades he was a Special Olympics athlete in track and field, softball, and golf and a beloved teammate on Special League Bowling. He was also a member of the Special Steppers square dancers for a time.

When doing his WWE "wrestling work," John was both passionate and meticulous, affectionately spelling each wrestler's name with respectful precision and care. And he applied the same calm attention to detail as a talented painter of ceramics, sometimes working by commission, and often giving his pieces to friends and family as colorful gifts (still carrying his spirit for those who treasure them).

With grand enthusiasm he would clap and cheer for his favorite football teams (his devotion to the Dallas Cowboys motivated as much by his love of cowboys). And never was he happier than when singing John Denver tunes on road trips with his sister, or when they sang and acted their way through every song of the Sound of Music, with or without the movie, but always by heart.

His legacy is love – of games, food, music, sports, and especially love for we who joined him, ever grateful to follow his playful lead. John changed us, made us better humans. This legacy of love is indelibly written on the hearts of all who knew him.

In spirit and love he lives.

In body he is survived by his mother, Lillian McDonald, brother and sister-in-law, Jim McDonald and Shelly, sister and brother-in-law, Leisl Bryant and Bart, and his beloved furry companions: his “son” Sam, Daphne, Bodhi, and Bella, and by extended family and many cherished friends across Pensacola, New Hampshire, and Canada.

A Celebration of Life is planned for Spring 2021.

To send condolences and tributes please visit: The family requests donations in lieu of flowers be made to: Ceramics by Leah to fund art by special needs persons (go to; choose ‘send’ a payment; enter this address:; and choose ‘send to someone you trust’; any questions, please call 850-476-1977. All donations go to a fund in John’s honor).

WATERS & HIBBERT FUNERAL HOME LLC is in charge of arrangements.
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Catherine Tilley

Posted at 11:09am
Dearest Lilian,
My most sincere condolences to you and your family. I'm so glad Lona bumped into you so I could keep you and John in my prayers this past week. Our God is so kind and merciful and our only true comfort in these matters.
I'll never forget one of my greatest blunders when in the lunchroom one day I greeted John as 'John Boy' who was prompt to let me know he was a man. Well I'm here to tell you that John is now with some of the "Greatest" men that ever walked this earth.
May he rest in heavenly peace and may the Great Comforter send His loving angels to watch over you and yours during this difficult time.


Donna Fanion

Posted at 11:06am
Dear Lillian,

I remember seeing John on "Chicken Day" in the breakroom, and he would say "Hi Honey!" to me. It was the most attention I would receive all week! John was always so happy and fun.

Lillian, I always loved hearing your stories about John- they were told with such unconditional love. Yours was a beautiful, pure, mother and son relationship.

John certainly went straight to Heaven. God Bless his soul, and God Bless you.

With Deepest Sympathy and Love,



Justin Labrato

Posted at 11:04am
Lillian, thank you for calling me yesterday, I am very sorry for your loss.

John always made me smile when he came to our Bayou Administrative offices. The way that he wanted to personally impact every person by making them a unique piece of ceramic artwork, showed how much he cared for everyone.

I love the ceramic surfer that he made for me, I will display it with pride in my office at Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart!

Joseph Robinson

Posted at 11:01am
I just received the email from work about John. He was a very special person who was a true friend. I think about how he made me a better person. He sounded so good when I talked to him the other day. He sounded really strong. He was really strong. He was strong because he has a strong mother and Faith. He is with God now. Just call me for anything you may need or email. 850-453-5227 or

Lynn Trex

Posted at 10:57am

I was so shocked and saddened to hear of John's passing. I can only imagine your heartache. I enjoyed getting to know him through your stories - I know he was a blessing to you and you were so blessed to have him (and he was blessed to have you as well). John was truly a special person who had a special talent with his ceramics. I've included the only picture I have of the gator he painted for him. I already loved it, and I will definitely cherish it forever as a memory of him!

Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers as you navigate through the very difficult days ahead of you! God has a plan and His timing is perfect - even when we don't understand. I hope you can find comfort knowing that John's body is now healed, and you will be reunited one day.

My deepest condolences!

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