Gary "Big Mac" McDonald
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Gary "Big Mac" McDonald, age 61, of Yankton, South Dakota, passed from this earth on Saturday morning, September 17, 2016 at his home, with family and a friend attending.

A memorial service will be 10:30 AM on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Yankton with Reverend Ken Lulf officiating. Burial will be at a later date at Saint Columba Cemetery in Mayfield, South Dakota. A gathering of friends and family will be from 5:00 to 8:00 PM on Wednesday, September 21, 2016, at the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home in Yankton with a rosary and vigil service at 7:00 PM.

Gary "Big Mac" McDonald was born September 9, 1955 to Francis and Patricia (Kohlscheen) McDonald, the third of their eight children. After moving from the Mayfield area to the "Sisters farm" at Sacred Heart Convent in 1960, his family moved into the city of Yankton in 1968. He attended Sacred Heart School through fifth grade and finished his formal education in the Yankton public school system in 1973. He was active in football and choir.

After completing high school Gary worked for Cimpl Meats for close to eight years. He also worked for Roy Johnson Roofing as well as Alumax/SAPA. He was last employed by Autumn Winds Assisted Living.

Gary McDonald was very much of an outdoorsman. He loved to fish, hunt, ride motorcycles and four wheelers. He loved to play cards, throw a few darts, have a few beers at the Ice House, and was a pretty fair softball player in the old "melon ball" softball league. He belonged to the Blood Bank for many years, donating several gallons of blood. He belonged to the Scramblers group and was "Goat of the Year". He married Karen Ernesti on February 14, 1989 in Yankton and for many years they donated turkeys, potatoes, and other foods for the annual Thanksgiving feast held in Yankton.

In 2011, Gary was nominated for the Carnegie-Mellon Foundation award for heroism after successfully rescuing a woman and her granddaughter from the flood swollen waters of the Missouri River near Springfield. He was not awarded the Carnegie-Mellon award, but he was awarded the US Coast Guard Silver Lifesaving Medal (a medal also given to General George Patton, Admiral Robert Byrd, and Admiral Chester Nimitz) in December 2015 for his efforts in the Springfield incident of 2011.

Survivors include his wife, Karen McDonald of Yankton; son, Lynn Dusatko (Haley Dring) of Yankton; daughter, Jessie Sue (Jacob) Gibson of Anchorage, Alaska; his parents, Francis and Pat McDonald of Yankton; six brothers, Michael (Deb) McDonald of Yankton, Martin (Jan) McDonald of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Patrick (Vicki) McDonald of Custer, South Dakota; Brian McDonald of Lincoln, Nebraska; Jerome McDonald of Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Kevin McDonald of Vermillion, South Dakota; his lone sister, Teresa Jackson of Sioux City, Iowa; and many area Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, five grand nephews, his elk hunting brothers-in-arms and his motorcycles buddies.

The Good Lord gave Gary one helluva great ride. Blessed be his memory.

Messages will be reviewed and posted within 1 business day.

Karen and family - I was shocked and saddened to read about Gary today. I am so sorry. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. May God comfort you through this difficult time.

Patricia (Christensen) Nichelson

There are no words and so we pray, The lamp's light pushes itself out from its shade, casting upward, downward, pushing itself through the filaments of its constraints. The lighted candles sitting beneath the lamp reach up to join the light, and in that union a higher illumination reveals the many lines and story's to be told. God illuminating in us, through us, and with us, breaking us out of our constraints.

With sincere sympathy and love, Carol and Gerry Ebel

Karen sorry to hear about your husband passing away. I lost contact of you over the years since I hadn't seen you guys for many yrs I thought you guys were no longer in town. You are in my thoughts and prayers you know someday we will all see are loved ones again hold on to all the memory's and that will get you through all the ruff roads ahead. Heavens got another angel!!

kathleen robinson

Robust. Kind. Generous. Fun loving. Heroic. Gary. What a guy. To Karen, family and friends, We are so sorry for the loss of your beloved Gary. You must have had so many fun times together. We hope that those happy memories will help you smile in this sad time. With our deepest sympathy,

Carol and Jay Williams

Pat , Mac and Family.. we want to send our deepest Sympathy. May God give you strength during this hard time and comfort to you all.

God Bless Nancy and Trent Nelson

Dear Karen and all of the McDonald family, I was so shocked to read about Gary's passing this morning. My sympathy in all the pain and sorrow you are going through.

My prayers, Linda Richards

I was shocked and saddened to hear about Gary - my heartfelt sympathy and condolences to all the McDonald family, loved ones and friends! Be at peace and prayers are sent always - God Bless & take care

Al & Connie (Lorenz) McGraw

Hey the big boy was a dear friend and fun guy, especially at the ice house, He will dearly be Missed. Spike aka "Wild Child"

Gary and Bonnie Vogt

Karen and family we send our deepest sympathies to you. We are very honored to know Gary and his robust laughter and kind heart will be missed.

Joe and Kelly Sparks

Frances and Pat and the entire McDonald family......Thinking of all of you and sending my warmest sympathy.

Jane (Stevens) Ford

Mac was a great man with a laugh and smile to make your day! Blessed be our memories with Mac and the Orient bike rally!

Keith (Toby) and Penny Halvorson

My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time. Gary will be greatly missed.

Patty (Bruce) Vavra

I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend. Riding motorcycles will never be the same, but every time I ride I will thank the Lord for letting me get to know Gary and Karen. Live to Ride, Ride to Live have a greater meaning for me now. Karen, please be strong. Gary would insist on that. I am sorry I cannot be with you, but know that my heart and thoughts are with you. Gary, I miss you already.

Dana Nelson

Karen and the rest of the McDonald family, you are in my thoughts, prayers and heart. Gary always made me smile whenever I came to Yankton with Dana Nelson, my husband. My world is now a little more empty without Gary's presence.

Tanya M. Harris

Pat and Family ~ We are so sorry to hear about your brother. May God be with your family at this time. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Kevin & Jessine Dutcher

Our sympathy and prayers to the McDonald family in your loss of Gary.

Loran & Kathy Tramp

Karen and the McDonald family, We were so sad to learn of Mac's. passing. He was such an awesome man and the world has lost a kind, gentle soul. We will always remember him from the good ole Ice House days. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Gary and Mary Lohff

So sorry to hear about Gary's passing. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Such a great man, always enjoyed seeing you guys down at the Ice House for a laugh and a cold one.


I remember playing in the hay loft at the Convent with Gary.We went to Sacred Heart School together along with High School Class of "73". He was a true gentleman and when he saw me he always said hi. Gary will be missed by all that knew him.

Jim Scoblic

We were so shocked to hear that Gary had passed away. So terribly sorry for this difficult loss, Karen. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with you and your family. Much love.

Dan & Lisa Groetken

To all of Gary's family we offer our condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Jane and Max Hawk

Gary was a great guy. He had good vibes. You could see it in the pictures that were displayed at his funeral. Happy trails Mac. I'm sure Gary is smiling where ever he is at. May God give His peace and harmony to you all.

John Conkling

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