2016 Chieftain of the Day:
Meet Jim & Pat McDonald
2016 Chieftains Jim & Pat McDonald
Jim and Pat have been active in the Scottish community since 1996 when they joined the local Scottish country dance group in Enumclaw, under the leadership of the late Rick Murchie. They enjoyed it so much they agreed to take over leadership of the group in 2004. The Plateau Scottish Country Dancers are still going strong, performing periodically at the Tacoma Highland Games and every year at the Pacific Northwest Highland Games in Enumclaw and the Hood Canal Highland Celtic Festival plus other local events.
Jim and Pat volunteer each year with the Tacoma Highland Games highland dance competition, along with their daughter Caitlin, a highland dancer. They also volunteer at the games in Enumclaw, helping with setup and leading the Friday and Saturday night ceilidh dancing. They have been members of the local chapter of Clan Donald for several years, attending assorted clan events and volunteering at the Clan Donald Fall Banquet.
Both can trace ancestry to Scotland and Ireland. Jim’s McDonald forebears came from County Kilkenny, Ireland and Scotland previously. Andrew McDonald immigrated to southern Quebec, Canada and established a farm, which remained in the family for about 160 years. Jim had the privilege of walking those fields and hearing the family history from cousin Ken McDonald. Pat’s Scottish forebears were Kennedys in southwest Scotland. Thomas Kennedy immigrated to Pennsylvania and then westward to Iowa in the 1800’s.
Both Jim and Pat are originally from Oregon, Jim from Portland and Pat from Eugene. They met while attending the University of Oregon. Jim graduated in elementary education and began teaching in the small town of Glendale in southern Oregon. Pat graduated with a degree in music education and taught elementary music in the Oregon coastal town of Florence. They were married in 1976 and made their first home in Glendale where Pat switched to substitute teaching. In 1980 Jim accepted a teaching position in Tahoma School District, Maple Valley, Washington and Jim, Pat and their 4 cats made the move north, eventually moving to Enumclaw where they have lived for the past 30 years.
The McDonald family welcomed 2 children, Bob and Caitlin. Caitlin became interested in highland dance at an early age and competed for 7 years. She still dances and also plays snare with the Tacoma Scots Pipe band.
Music is an important part of the McDonald household. Jim plays guitar, banjo and concertina. Pat plays flute, recorder and Irish whistle. Both have been singers since their early years. Their interest in and love of Celtic music is what got them to try Scottish country dancing and led to their involvement in other Scottish interests. As well as Celtic music, Jim and Pat enjoy camping and spending time outdoors, gardening and relaxing with a good book.
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