Joe F. Donaldson III 1947-2022

Donaldson.jpgJoe F. Donaldson, III, 75 long-time MU professor and lifelong learner, passed away October 1, 2022, in Columbia, Mo. At a wake celebrating his life, his children accredited him “as aged to perfection for 75 years.” Born on September 2, 1947, and raised in Cleveland, TN., to Joseph F. (Jr.) and Dorathy Donaldson (nee Grayson), Joe was a nationally recognized researcher and educator of adult and professional education, including positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The Pennsylvania State University, and, finally, at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU). 

At MU, Joe was instrumental in the development and success of the MU Statewide Cooperative EdD in Educational Leadership program and served as Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in the College of Education. He most enjoyed learning from his own students, many of whom were professional educators returning for advanced degrees.

In retirement, he continued part-time work with the MU Medical School, helping to shape the education of medical students. He also returned to his many hobbies and passions: woodcarving, researching his family’s genealogy, listening to great music, reading history and historical fiction, and volunteering in immigrant justice work at his church. In his retirement, he especially enjoyed family trips on backroads to landmarks around the US with his wife, Meredith (nee Johnson), in their minivan outfitted as a camper. 

He is survived by his family: wife Meredith, who will miss her best friend and love of her life; son Andrew Donaldson (Caitlin) and daughters Susie Donaldson (Ann Morris) and Marylee Donaldson (Marisa), who will all miss their mentor; and three grandchildren Ensley Rose, Eli Joseph, and Charley, who will never forget playing with their “Papa Joe.” Joe is also survived by his brother, Daniel McGhee Donaldson, and his family: wife Patricia (nee Pickel); their two daughters Heather Donaldson and Rachel Denney (Jesse); and two grandchildren Evelyn and Benjamin. He is survived by many Donaldson, Grayson, and Johnson cousins.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Joe F Donaldson Scholarship in the MU College of Education or the Sanctuary and Immigrant Justice Fund of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia, MO.

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