It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of (George) Royal MacDonald of Fredericton, New Brunswick, husband of Mary Jane (Underhill) MacDonald. He passed away peacefully late on Saturday, June 24, 2023 surrounded by his family at Hospice House in Fredericton, New Brunswick following a lengthy illness.
Royal was born on July 12, 1939 to the late George and Leola (Sutherland) MacDonald in Blissfield, NB. He will be greatly missed by his loving wife of almost 60 years, Mary; his children Lisa Graham (Andy) and Krista MacDonald (Gilles Volpé); his five grandchildren Drew Graham (Jamie McNeil), Maggie Francis (Greg MacDonald), Olivia Gee (Garett), Grace Graham and Sam Volpé. He is also survived by 2 great grandsons; Arthur Gee, who has brought much joy to his life these past two years; and Royal MacDonald who entered the world several hours after his passing; sisters Effie Kennedy and Doris Coughlan (Roy), and brother Jack MacDonald (Verna); sister in law Doris Jardine and many nieces and nephews, cousins and beloved friends who each held a special place in his heart.
Royal grew up in Blackville, NB, and after graduating high school in 1957 he went on to study engineering at UNB in Fredericton, graduating from the Civil Class of 1962. He went to work for the Department of Highways as a Resident Engineer, kick starting a 54 year career. He completed his Masters of Science in Engineering in Construction Management in 1969 while working full time and raising a family.
In 1961, Royal began dating Mary Jane Underhill, a young nursing student in Fredericton, NB. Royal and Mary both grew up in Blackville and had known each other since childhood. Royal and Mary were married in 1963 and lived and raised their family in Fredericton.
Royal began working for Neill & Gunter in 1966 and consulted primarily for heavy civil and industrial clients. In 1970 he accepted an offer to become the Chief Engineer at Irving Oil and filled this role at a most interesting time in the development of that company, travelling frequently throughout Eastern Canada and the United States. In 1974 Royal and his young family returned to Fredericton where he started a consulting company, G.R.MacDonald Ltd.; and by 1975 he invested in, and ultimately co-owned and became the President of Multi Ventures Limited, a large general construction company focused on heavy civil construction throughout the province. This fulfilled a dream for Royal as he grew the company and developed multiple subsidiaries specializing in land development, building design & construction, and forestry. He was a lifetime member of the New Brunswick Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association of New Brunswick and proudly served as President in 1979. Royal returned to Neill & Gunter in 1993 and managed projects there until he finally retired (from Stantec) at the age of 78 in 2017. He took great pride in having worked on projects in every province in Canada.
Royal’s family were his greatest pride and joy, and he generously bestowed love, kindness, wisdom and guidance on all of us. He was an enthusiastic fan in all of his children’s and grandchildren’s activities and invested many hours volunteering his time, cheering them on and of course, keeping stats. He served as President of the Fredericton Figure Skating Club when his daughters were competitive and travelled to rinks, football, baseball and soccer fields, pools, gyms, tracks and dance recitals to support his grandchildren in all of their pursuits; although it could not be denied that hockey was his passion since the time he himself played on the outdoor rinks in Blackville. Each of his grandchildren had a special relationship with him.
Royal and Mary were avid gardeners and summer family gatherings were spent in the beautiful oasis that was their labour of love, and their home became the gathering place for every holiday. Royal was blessed with many cherished friends and neighbours who became like family to him. There was much good food and laughter shared in his and Mary’s warm home over the years.
He was a faithful member of Saint Paul’s United Church since he was a student; former elder and active trustee until his illness in 2020. He was a member of the United Commercial Travelers, Epsilon Y’s Men and Fredericton Curling Club years ago. In his later years he enjoyed the Golden Club. Royal was, and always will be a hockey player, and enjoyed cross country skiing, cycling, long walks and travelling with Mary.
Royal was predeceased by his mother, father, and infant brother Gilbert Blythe; father- and mother-in-law Lorne and Annie (Touchie) Underhill, as well as 23 brothers- and sisters-in-law who were all very special to him, and 5 much loved nephews.
The family would like to thank and will be forever grateful to the many medical professionals and caregivers who cared for Royal over the past several months; and especially to the administration, staff and volunteers at Hospice House for their kindness and amazing care.
The service will be held at Saint Paul’s United Church on Wednesday, July 5, 2023 at 2pm with a reception to follow in the church hall. For those who are unable to attend, this event will be livestreamed at https://vimeo.com/event/3543607. Interment to be done at the Fredericton Rural Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Hospice House, Saint Paul’s United Church, or the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Canada. Online condolences may be made at www.mcadamsfh.com.