GARDINER — William MacDonald lived in Gardiner his whole life, serving as the city’s commissioner of public safety for 20 years and later as mayor during the early 1980s.

Even in his later years, MacDonald would visit City Hall to voice his opinions or help out by giving a history lesson.

He died Wednesday in his Gardiner home. He was 88.

“He was just very fond of this community and did whatever he could to make a difference and make it a better place,” said Barbara MacDonald, one of his seven daughters. William MacDonald also had one son.

Barbara MacDonald, 60, of Litchfield, said her father was most proud of all of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also is survived by his wife of 60 years, Christine MacDonald.

“I think people enjoyed seeing my parents walk hand-in-hand on the way to church on Sunday,” Barbara MacDonald said. “They would often walk to the park and sit and chat, and he could overlook his community.”

William MacDonald was Gardiner’s commissioner of public safety, a joint of position of police and fire chief, from 1959 to 1979.

“Growing up with our dad as chief of police is an honor, but you can’t get away with anything.” Barbara MacDonald said. “We were always on our best behavior, but we weren’t always successful with that. But we tried our best.”

Brian MacMaster, chief of investigations for the Office of the Maine Attorney General, worked as a police officer for MacDonald from 1969 to 1977.

“It really gave me the foundation I needed to eventually get hired in the AG’s office and get to where I am now,” MacMaster said.

He said it was an honor for Gardiner when MacDonald was selected as president of the New England Association of Chiefs of Police and the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.

“It was a pleasure to work for him,” MacMaster said. “There’s a lot of cops out there, even today, that he gave their starts.”

Gardiner City Manager Scott Morelli said MacDonald continued to stay involved in city politics, including serving on the search committee for a new fire chief in 2011.

“Of course, through his professional career he was active in city government; but even in his retirement, he was down at City Hall and letting his opinions (be) heard and trying to help out,” Morelli said.

Barbara MacDonald said her father had told her about a year ago that he was considering another run for mayor.

“I really think family meant so much to him, and the city of Gardiner would come second to that.” she said. “He gave his life to the city of Gardiner.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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