Murwillumbah Show stalwart remembered
John Kenny (Ken) McDonald, OAM 24-8-1926 - 29-10-2016
JOHN Kenny (Ken) McDonald OAM will be remembered today when the 2016 Murwillumbah Show opens.
Ken was a key driver behind the annual event for decades, serving on the Tweed River Agricultural Society board from 1951 to 2000, including 12 years as president.
Among the highlights of his tenure as president was welcoming Prince Charles when he visited Murwillumbah in 1977 to open the show.
Ken was also trustee of the Murwillumbah Showground from 1958 and served as chairman of the trust for more than 30 years.
Such was his dedication to the show that he was awarded life membership of the society in 1981 and a grandstand at the showground is named in his honour.
Ken was also involved with numerous other community organisations, including the Probus Club and the Murwillumbah Local Land Board.
His eldest son, Paul, parish priest of the Catholic Parish of Kingscliff, said his father was a dedicated and active member of the community.
"He was a very loyal and committed community and family man," he said.
"As we reflect on his life, his qualities and his contributions, as a family we are very proud of him."
Ken died on Saturday after a brief illness. He was born in Murwillumbah in 1926, the son of pioneering parents.
He was raised on the family farm, Kevondale, and attended Mt St Patrick Primary School before heading to Woodlawn College at Lismore.
After finishing school he returned home, keen to help his father further develop the jersey cattle stud. Ken's younger brothers Brian and Pat later joined the operation and Kevondale cattle were highly regarded throughout Australia.
Ken was a world-renowned breeder and judge of jersey cattle, showing and officiating at both national and international events.
He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2011 for service to the cattle industry and the Tweed district.
In recent years Ken switched from his beloved jerseys to raising less labour-intensive beef cattle.
"He was happiest on the farm," Fr McDonald said.
"He loved the land and spent all but three years of his life there. It was always his wish that he lived on the farm for all his life and he basically did that."
Ken is survived by his wife Norma, his sons Paul, Michael and Peter - who will serve as ringmaster at the show this weekend - and their partners, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brothers Noel and Pat and sisters Colleen and Noreen.
The funeral will be held at 11am on Monday at the Church of the Sacred Heart at Murwillumbah.
Fr McDonald, who will officiate at the ceremony, said people are most welcome to attend and pay their respects.