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Joseph MacDonald, 73, Army veteran and Biddeford resident, dies from coronavirus

Veteran Cemetery Flag (nosheep/Pixabay)

Joseph MacDonald, a veteran of the Vietnam War and a longtime Biddeford resident, died April 2 at the Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta. He was 73 and Maine’s eighth victim of the coronavirus.

Mr. MacDonald, who had served in the Army, volunteered for organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans. In the 1990s, he served terms as chapter president and state commander. He was involved in parades and organized fundraisers to support Maine’s veterans.

Bryan MacDonald of Biddeford said Thursday his father was a disabled veteran who struggled with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. He said volunteering gave him purpose in life.

MacDonald spoke openly about his father’s struggle with alcoholism after serving in the Army during Vietnam. He got sober about 20 years ago and became active in Biddeford’s 12-step recovery community. He helped many men struggling with alcoholism and addiction.

“He was always willing to help others,” his son recalled. “He loved seeing people who were struggling turn their lives around.”

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Mr. MacDonald felt strongly about giving back to the community. For more than a decade, he manned the ticket booth for Biddeford High School football games. He was also a former president and longtime member of the Eagles Aerie 804 in Biddeford.

Mr. MacDonald was independent, outgoing and very personable, according to his son, who said he had a daily routine of grabbing coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, going to the post office to get his mail, and hanging out at the Eagles Club.

Mr. MacDonald was admitted to Southern Maine Health Care on March 25 with symptoms of the coronavirus. The following day, he was transported to Togus VA Medical Center.

He is survived by four children. His son said he doesn’t know where his father contracted the virus.

“Its been very difficult,” Bryan MacDonald said. “It came on very quickly. To see him go that fast was really shocking to us. The fact that he was 73 – he lived his life. It wasn’t like he was taken too soon, but at the same time this is not the way we wanted to see him go.”

A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

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© 2020 the Portland Press Herald