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July 07, 2014

Jeff Helms

Albert McDonald

MONTGOMERY, Ala., June 7 — Former State Senator and Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture Albert McDonald died Sunday, leaving a legacy of service to Alabama farmers. He was 83.

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell described McDonald as a good farmer, strong leader and respected public servant. 

“Farmers and all Alabama residents continue to benefit from Mr. McDonald’s work in the legislature, Department of Agriculture and cotton industry,” Parnell said. “He put the needs of Alabama agriculture ahead of his own interests and was a tireless advocate for his fellow farmers. We will miss his leadership and friendship.”

McDonald began farming cotton, soybeans and grain in 1954 after graduating from Auburn University. He was elected to the Alabama Senate in 1974, and served as chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee during his second term. In 1982, he was elected commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Industries. He served two terms before being appointed state executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (now Farm Service Agency) in 1991 by President George Bush.

During his farming career, McDonald was a member of the Cotton Incorporated Executive Committee, served as president of the Southern Cotton Growers Incorporated, was a member of the Beltwide Boll Weevil Eradication Committee, served on committees with the National Cotton Council and was named Cotton Farming Magazine’s National Cotton Farmer of the Year in 1972. 

McDonald was recipient of the Farmers Federation's Service to Agriculture Award, the organization's highest honor. He also served on the Madison County Farmers Federation Board of Directors. McDonald was inducted into the Alabama Agriculture Hall of Honor in February.

McDonald was preceded in death by his parents, Clyde and Nahoma Welch McDonald, and his siblings, Malcolm Rhea McDonald and Mary Lynn Goodwin. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Shirley Shields McDonald; sons, Mark Russell McDonald, and Stan (Mabel) McDonald; daughters, Caroline McDonald (Hon. Robert) Aderholt and Leah McDonald Engler; and grandchildren, Dr. Matthew McDonald, Carter McDonald, Lewis McDonald, Locker McDonald, Lloyd McDonald, Mary Eleanor McDonald, Melissa Suzanne McDonald, Luke McDonald, Manie McDonald, Christian Rutherford, Mary Elliott Aderholt, Robert Hayes Aderholt, Bruce Erich Engler, and Anna Kate Engler. 

Visitation will be held at Laughlin Service Funeral Home from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Huntsville. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Huntsville First United Methodist Church with Rev. Travis Wilson officiating. Pallbearers will include McDonald’s grandsons. 

Flowers may be sent to Laughlin Service Funeral Home, 2320 Bob Wallace Ave SW, Huntsville, AL 35805. Contribution may be made to the Madison United Methodist Church, 127 Church Street, Madison AL 35758; The American Cancer Society, 3000 Bob Wallace Ave SW, Huntsville, AL 35805; or The Huntsville Hospital Foundation, 101 Sivley Rd SW, Huntsville, AL 35801.

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