It is with sad but grateful hearts that we commemorate the extraordinary life of co-founder Alonzo (“Al”) McDonald, who passed away this past week at the age of 91. Al’s remarkable life included service as CEO of McKinsey, President and Vice-Chairman of the Bendix Corporation, White House staff Director for President Carter, Deputy Special Trade Representative, and Harvard Business School faculty member. Al also founded and chaired the McDonald Agape Foundation, and served as founding Chairman of the Trinity Forum, which he helped launch with Os Guinness in 1991.
A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO AL MCDONALD
The Trinity Forum would never have come into being without Al McDonald. His faith, leadership, wisdom, immense political and business experience, and his enormous generosity were indispensable to the Forum’s success. We first met when we worked together to launch the Williamsburg Charter in 1986, as part of the celebration of the bicentennial the US Constitution. A born leader, a true American patriot, a prolific journalist and savvy businessman as well Chief of Staff in President Carter’s White House, Al had recently come to faith, and was fiercely committed to the cause of religious freedom. He was the ideal Chairman for the effort – energetic, indomitable, and unabashed in the face of prejudice and open hostility. His character and reputation were invaluable in winning support for the Charter, affirming widespread bipartisan and multi-sector support for religious freedom.
A few years later, in 1991, when I first proposed the idea of the Trinity Forum to him, he immediately responded with enthusiasm. A large number of the Forum’s early attendees were “friends of Al,” many of whom, it seemed, came to the early events to try to understand the stunning “great change” that had taken place in Al’s life as his faith became central. A few who knew his formidable reputation from his years as Managing Partner at McKinsey were truly startled; all were intrigued.
Al McDonald was a giant in his generation, and a host of memories come tumbling in: his love for his own family and his care for individual members of the Trinity Forum team, his immense pride as a Scotsman, his love of history and books (stacked in piles all over his floor), his passion for justice and his work with Jackie Robinson, his grasp of details as well as overall strategy, his unrivaled running of board meetings, his tenacity in debate, his invincible courage when up against setbacks, his peace and contentment on the day that a Wall Street collapse wiped out much of his investment, his awed response to a visit to the tomb on Napoleon in Paris, and his great love of good wine and French cuisine. In my time in this country, I have had the privilege of meeting several American presidents, many members of Congress, and countless CEOs. But I have met no one larger in personality and stature than Al. He was an absolute original. We will not see his like again. I give God thanks for his part in my life and his irreplaceable part in the life of the Trinity Forum.
co-founder of the Trinity Forum
In Al’s memory, we want to gift you complimentary downloads or hard copies of Readings featuring Al McDonald’s personal reflections.