Ellis Larrieu McDonald peacefully departed this life on Wednesday, July 4, 2018, surrounded by family, at the age of 94. Born October 17, 1923, Ellis was a native of New Orleans. Patriarch of the family, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, son and veteran; his life exemplified his devotion to God, Family and Country. He was the best of the best-a member of the Greatest Generation.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Marie Scaffidi McDonald, to whom he was married for more than 70 years; his parents, Corinne Larrieu McDonald and John Franklin McDonald, Sr.; brothers, John F. McDonald, Jr. and Vernon McDonald; and sister, Patricia McDonald Adolph. He will be forever loved, honored and remembered by his daughters, Elizabeth A. McDonald, MD and Diane McDonald Hudson (Jerry); and his granddaughter, Elise Marie McDonald and many loving relatives and friends. Ellis graduated Annunciation Grammer School and St. Aloysius High School. He received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge. There he was a member of the “Golden Band from Tiger Land” in which he played the clarinet. In the midst of his studies at LSU, he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1942, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, at the age of 18. Commissioned an Ensign, he fought in WWII as a fighter pilot on the USS Lexington (CV-16), also known as the “Blue Ghost.”
He fought in the most pivotal battles and air campaigns in the Pacific Theater that included: Gilbert Islands, Wake Island, Marshall Islands, Caroline Islands, New Guinea, Marianna Islands, Guam, Bonin Islands, the Philippines, Leyte- “the greatest battle ever fought in the history of the world-at sea.” Additionally, Ryukyo Islands, Formosa, China Sea and Japan. Anchoring in Tokyo Bay after the Japanese surrender. The USS Lexington and her attached air groups received the Presidential Unit Citation “For extraordinary heroism in action against enemy forces in the air, ashore, and afloat in the Pacific War area from September 18, 1943 to August 15, 1945. Daring and dependable in combat, the Lexington with her gallant officers and men rendered loyal service in achieving the ultimate defeat of the Japanese empire.” Ensign McDonald was part of an elite crew of pilots that participated in Allied flight formation over Tokyo Bay marking the formal Japanese surrender in September 1945. Ellis retired from Active duty in 1946 but continued his Naval Aviation career in the Reserves achieving the rank of Commander. During his Naval career, he flew fighter jets that included F6F Hellcat, F4U Corsair, and the F9F-the first aircraft used by the Blue Angels. He retired from the US Navy Reserves in 1983. During his Active and Reserve career, he received numerous medals and honors. After WWII, he resumed and completed his studies at LSU. He was employed in Santa Monica, California, as an Aeronautical Engineer at Douglas Aircraft Company. He returned to New Orleans in 1951. His span of employment included The Sewerage and Water Board, The Royal Globe Insurance Company and ultimately retiring from Industrial Risk Insurers. He maintained membership in Engineering societies during his professional career. In his past time, he enjoyed traveling, playing golf, LSU football, spending time with family and listening to Big Band music at the Stage Door Canteen in the WWII museum. Ellis will be remembered as a man of humility, patience, kindness and goodness. A true gentleman. A patriot, provider and protector. He will be deeply missed.
Family and friends are invited to attend funeral services at Greenwood Funeral Home. 5200 Canal Blvd., New Orleans, La. 70124 on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. Visitation 11:00am-1:00pm. Catholic Mass 1:00pm. Graveside services to follow at Greenwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the WWII museum. The family invites you to share your thoughts, fond memories, and condolences online, at www.greenwoodfh.com