Former News editorial writer, bureau chief Hiram McDonald dies at 87

Published: Friday, Oct. 9 2015 5:51 a.m. MDT

Hiram McDonald worked at the Deseret News for nearly 40 years as copy editor, bureau chief, sports editor and editorial writer. His grandson Nathan Humpherys wrote the following tribute following McDonald's passing on Sunday, Sept. 23:

Hiram McDonald spent the day visiting with some of his children and grandchildren before passing away Sunday evening at the age of 87. He is survived by his loving wife, Anne and their nine children, 29 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Hiram worked at the Deseret News for 39 years, filling such diverse roles as copy editor, bureau chief, sports editor, and editorial writer. His role in my life, though, was Grandpa, the greatest story teller I knew.

Every time Grandma and Grandpa came to visit, my brother and I would refuse to go to bed until Grandpa told us three or four stories. We loved all of Grandpa's stories, especially the ones about his time covering the land-speed record attempts at the Bonneville Salt Flats, but his World War II stories were by far our favorites.

He qualified as a sharpshooter, but ended up writing and managing reports at the 12th Corps headquarters in Patton's Third Army because of his skills as a writer and typist. He served in four campaigns, including Battle of the Bulge, and saw enough excitement to have plenty of stories to tell, but was kept safe enough to come back and tell them. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service.

Grandpa was also the most interesting character I knew. He'd recite poetry to himself as he shaved in the morning, and when the family ate together, he'd try to get his children (and grandchildren) to ask for things in French or German (Passez la lait, si vou plait). My grandmother always called him a stubborn optimist. No matter how bad things looked, he always carried a smile and the belief that everything would work out.

I remember when he suffered a stroke a few years back. There was a tense period where we didn't know how well, or if, he was going to recover. Then we heard was flirting with the hospital nurses in French and German, we were relieved. We knew Grandpa was going to be okay.

I don't think anyone met my grandfather without becoming his friend. Not only was he witty and charming, but he was also a great listener. He had a gift for connecting with people, and he would start a conversation with any and every person he met.

It didn't matter where he was, either. He frequently rode bus to work, and got to know each person he sat by. Years later, one of his fellow commuters told my mom that though many people in the area rode the same bus, it wasn't until my grandfather started riding with them that they truly became neighbors in a neighborhood.

My grandfather may be in another place, but I bet he's still busy making friends. Like those commuters on that bus long ago, there are probably some angels thinking to themselves that heaven wasn't really Heaven until Hiram McDonald arrived, smiling, shaking hands and striking up conversations.

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