Dr. Charles J. McDonald, age 89, of Bristol

Posted 1/21/21

Dr. Charles J. McDonald, age 89, an internationally recognized dermatologist/oncologist, died on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, after a long illness. He was the son of the late George B. McDonald and Bertha …

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Dr. Charles J. McDonald, age 89, of Bristol


Dr. Charles J. McDonald, age 89, an internationally recognized dermatologist/oncologist, died on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, after a long illness. He was the son of the late George B. McDonald and Bertha Harbin McDonald Nixon and the stepson of Mr. Thomas Nixon. He also leaves his only sibling, sister Laura Nixon.

Dr. McDonald was born in Tampa, Fla., in 1931 and lived in Bristol, Rhode Island for the last 36 years with his wife, Maureen (McDonald) McDonald. They were married for just under 40 years.

In addition to his wife, Dr. McDonald is survived by his four children: Charlesetta Arline, Marc McDonald, (Brenda), Norman Douglas McDonald (Sara), and Eric McDonald (Valerie Cook).

He was proud of his grandchildren and the growing number of his great-grandchildren, as well as his Massachusetts and Connecticut nieces and nephews and their families.

A lifelong passion for helping others to succeed led to a life of achievement for Dr. Charles McDonald. As an internationally recognized dermatologist/oncologist, Dr. McDonald distinguished himself as a clinician, researcher, and educator — and as a leader in his own community and well beyond it.

A pioneer in translational research, bringing proven research advances from the laboratory to application at the bedside or in the office, Dr. McDonald has been recognized in Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors for two decades. He has lectured at medical schools and conferences throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America on the use of cancer drugs (cytotoxic and immune modulating agents) in non-cancerous systemic illnesses and skin diseases. His research and experience in these areas and in the development of safe and effective treatments for skin cancer and systemic autoimmune diseases have been published in some 200 scientific articles, book chapters and his own textbook.

As founding chairman of the Brown University Medical School’s Department of Dermatology, Dr. McDonald has trained hundreds of medical students and Dermatology residents. He was honored by the Brown Medical School Alumni with their highest award for “teaching, mentoring, and contributions to the community both locally and nationally," the W.W. Keen Award. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Howard University College of Medicine; Howard University’s Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement Award in the fields of Medicine and Community Service; and the Candle in Medicine Award from Morehouse College, among many other academic citations.

Long active in the professional associations of his field, Dr. McDonald served as president of the American Dermatological Association, as an officer of the American Academy of Dermatology, the Residency Review Committee for Dermatology, and as a board member of a number of related organizations in Dermatology and Medicine.

Dr. McDonald was a member of the FDA Advisory Panel for Dermatology, a member of the first

National Advisory Board for the National Institute for Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; and served on numerous committees and study groups of the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science.

A member of the Howard University Board of Trustees for 20 years, Dr. McDonald chaired the Advisory Board to the Cancer Center of the College of Medicine, and was vice chair of the Board’s Health Affairs Committee.

Active in the affairs of the American Cancer Society for three decades, Dr. McDonald became national president of the American Cancer Society in 1998, the only dermatologist ever to have held that post. During his tenure, Dr. McDonald led new efforts to improve diversity within the organization, coalesced national program efforts in childhood cancer, and spearheaded new program initiatives in prostate cancer in African American men.

Among local and regional positions of leadership, Dr. McDonald was a member of the Rhode Island State Board of Education, a trustee of Citizens Bank, a trustee of the Providence Public Library, and a member of the group of founders of the Providence Health Centers. He was a member of the executive board of the New England Regional Manpower Development Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For some ten years, Dr. McDonald served as a trustee of Lifespan, the largest health provider in southern New England. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2014, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Health degree from Rhode Island College.

In Rhode Island, Dr. McDonald received awards for community service from the NAACP, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, the Ministerial Alliance, the John Hope Settlement House, and the Urban League. For several years he proudly served as a trustee of Bryant University.

In 2012, he was honored by the Rhode Island Medical Society with the Charles L. Hill Award for “leaving a magnificent legacy of caring and accomplishment.”

Dr. McDonald was born in Tampa, Fla. He earned his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at North Carolina A&T University at age 19, followed by a Master’s Degree in Zoology at the University of Michigan. In 1952, he joined the United States Air Force, serving as a flight officer and intelligence officer in the Strategic Air Command and achieving the rank of Major.

In 1956, he entered Howard University Medical School, graduating first in his class in 1960. He completed residencies in internal medicine and dermatology; and a fellowship in clinical pharmacology and medical oncology at Yale University Medical School in 1966. Upon completion of his training, he joined the Yale Medical School faculty in Medicine and Pharmacology. In 1968, he moved to Providence to join the faculty of the young Brown University Medical School to play his part in helping build it into excellence.

Dr. McDonald was a skilled and compassionate physician, a spectacular husband, a loving father, a loyal and generous friend, an encouraging teacher and colleague. He was grateful for each one of his achievements and, always, for the many people who helped him succeed.

Due to current restrictions on public gatherings, the church can only allow 130 people to gather for Dr. McDonald’s funeral which will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, at St. Mary’s Church, 330 Wood St., Bristol. In addition it will be live streamed on Facebook, Barry Gamach page at 10 a.m. If you would prefer to support a cause in lieu of flowers, please consider The Providence Public Library, 150 Empire St., Providence 02903, or the Charles and Maureen McDonald Endowed Scholarship Fund, Howard University, P.O. Box 417853, Boston, MA 02241-7853. Or St. Mary’s Church, 330 Wood St., Bristol, RI 02809.

Arrangements are in the care of Wilbur-Romano Funeral Home, Warren. For online condolences, www.wilbur-romano.com.

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