Vernon McDonald was born in Dale, Texas, on March 9, 1929, and passed away on August 19, 2019, at the age of 90. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Dolores, and three children – Donny and his wife Sandra, Lynn and his wife Amy, and Lola and her husband Brett, as well as five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and extended family.
He will be remembered as a loving man, full of laughter, who lived a full life and touched the lives of everyone he met. He loved the Lord Jesus Christ, his family, and Southwest Texas State University, usually in that order. He was a man of many names – Dad to his children, Popi to his grandchildren, Bubba to some, Coach Mac or Motor Mouth to others. Only his wife and his driver’s license called him Vernon.
He was the youngest of two sons born to Guy Cleveland McDonald and Montie Ola Shinn McDonald, and attended Taylor High School in Taylor, Texas. He was elected the drum major of the band as a freshman and held that position until graduation. It was at Taylor High that he discovered a lifelong passion for basketball and led the team to the first district championship in school history. After graduation, Vernon attended Texas Lutheran College in Seguin and played basketball with his older brother, Forrest. He was soon offered a scholarship to play at Southwest Texas Teachers College in San Marcos under Coach Milton Jowers, who later became his mentor and friend.
From then on, Vernon McDonald was a Bobcat. He earned all-conference honors 3 times as a point guard and in 1952 the team finished with a 30-1 record and was third at the NAIA National Tournament. While at SWT, he met and married Dolores Behymer.
After college, Vernon spent one year as a coach and teacher at Eagle Pass High School. A year later, Coach Jowers called him to be the assistant coach at SWT. Vernon moved back to San Marcos and never left. He was an assistant for Coach Jowers until 1960. That year, the Bobcat basketball team won the NAIA National Championship. After the season, Coach Jowers assumed control of the SWT football team and Vernon was named Head Coach of the basketball team. He coached until 1977, when he was forced to step down due to health issues. He coached more games than anyone in Bobcat history and won 229, second-most behind Jowers. Vernon went on to become an assistant athletic director at SWT until 1988, when he retired.
Even in retirement, Vernon continued to be involved at SWT. Every year, he thought every Bobcat team was going to win the national championship. He loved SWT, and only grudgingly came to accept the name change to Texas State. Vernon was named Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year in 1971. In 2006, he was named one of the top figures in the first 75 years of the Lone Star Conference. He was the only man to make the list as both a player and coach. His jersey #40, the first basketball number retired in SWT history, still hangs in Strahan Coliseum.
Since 1988, Vernon has worked with the Vernon McDonald Men’s Basketball Endowment at Texas State, which helps men’s basketball players attend summer school. In 2010, Vernon was named Distinguished Alumni of SWT, an award he always said he cherished most.
Vernon was involved with the youth of San Marcos for many years. He coached Little League, taught swimming lessons in the San Marcos River and directed the City’s summer swimming program. He played and coached fast-pitch softball for many years.
He loved to travel, taking family trips all over the globe during the summers. After retiring, Vernon and Dolores traveled to China, England, Scandinavia, and other points in Europe and across the world. He was always ready to go somewhere. Later in life, he and Dolores discovered cruises, and occasionally took their grateful children and grandchildren in tow.
Vernon was a longtime member of the First Baptist Church in San Marcos, and his love of the Lord was evident to all who knew him. He will be deeply missed, but we remain joyful in the secure knowledge he is with Jesus, probably entertaining heaven with one of his mostly-true stories.
Visitation will be held Friday, August 23, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Pennington Funeral Home. Funeral Service to be held Saturday, August 24, 10:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church, 325 McCarty Lane, San Marcos, TX. Burial to follow at San Marcos City Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Vernon’s memory to the Vernon McDonald Men’s Basketball Endowment. Checks should be payable to TXST Development Foundation and mailed to Texas State University Advancement Services, JCK 480, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666-4684.
Arrangements under the care and guidance of Pennington Funeral Home, 323 N. Comanche St. 512-353-4311.