Francis M. McDonald, 87, of Middlebury, CT, passed away from complications of pneumonia on October 8, 2018. He died at St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, CT where he was born on January 22, 1931. The son of M. Francis and Margaret Kelly McDonald, Frank was the eldest of eight children who lived on Newton Terrace in Waterbury and spent the summers in the family’s house on Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury, CT. The family has operated the Lake Quassapaug Outing Club on the property for many years.
Frank was educated at Crosby High School where he met Mary (Kelly) McDonald, his life-long love. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1953 before receiving his J.D. from the Yale Law School in 1956. He learned that he passed the CT bar exam on his wedding day in January 1956. After Yale, Frank joined the FBI in Kansas City and then served as one of two Assistant US Attorneys for Connecticut in New Haven. He worked in private practice in Waterbury before becoming the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Waterbury. He was appointed to the Connecticut Superior Court and then served on the Connecticut Supreme Court, finishing his term as the Chief Justice.
Frank devoted much of his advocacy to the prosecution of crimes. He was known to be a tough adversary, but a fair one. Above all he treated anyone he met with dignity and respect. He felt his calling was to defend the rights of victims, not merely to punish wrongdoers. He delighted in the detective work and expert witness testimony on which he framed his cases. He was extremely modest in speaking of his own accomplishments which included a trial victory against famed civil-rights advocate William Kunstler, and a successful appeal to the US Supreme Court for the State of Connecticut. A strong conservative, he was nevertheless an excellent listener to the views of others. He enjoyed socializing and learning about the lives of others.
A passionate outdoorsman, Frank fished all year throughout the Northeast and skied in Vermont until he was 80. Intellectually curious, Frank loved history, especially that of the US and World War II. He admired Winston Churchill, as both a leader and an author, and often wore his signature navy and white polka dot bow tie. He was a devout Roman Catholic.
Frank’s greatest passion was his family, above all his wife, Mary. He adored his seven grandchildren, Erin, Brittany, and Lindsey of Middlebury, daughters of his son Michael and daughter-in-law Deirdre; Samuel and Ellison of Woodbury, the children of his son John and daughter-in-law Stephanie; and Maria (of Los Angeles, CA) and Anna (of Brooklyn, NY) daughters of his daughter Mary Ann and son-in-law James of Woodbridge, CT.
His brothers, John and Vincent, both of Middlebury, and his sister Julie of Massachusetts, survive him along with his sister-in-law Eileen of Middlebury. His brothers Thomas, Daniel, James, and Paul predeceased him as did his sisters-in-law Jane, Elise, Barbara and Jane. The family would like to express their gratitude to the clinical staff at St. Mary’s Hospital for their compassionate care.
A mass of Christian burial will take place at 11 am on Friday October 12th at St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield, CT. The family will receive condolences at Munson-Lovetere Funeral Home, 2 School St, Woodbury, CT from 4 pm to 7 pm on Thursday, October 11th. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lake Quassapaug Association, PO Box 285, Middlebury, CT 06762.