Jesse K. McDonald

Published 11:51 am Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Jesse K. McDonald, 79, of Starkville, passed away on Monday, March 27, 2023. Visitation will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 1 at Welch Funeral Home with services immediately following at 12 p.m. The family asks that you wear casual maroon and white to honor Jesse and his Bulldogs. 

Jesse was born on December 16, 1943, to Hal K. and Marie McDonald in Oakland, Miss. After graduating from East Tallahatchie High School in 1962, he studied agricultural economics at Mississippi State University, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 1965, he married Sharon Mize of Oxford. He liked to say he rescued her from “that terrible place up north.”

After graduating from MSU, he began his 31-year career working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, Miss. In 1972, he attended the Georgia Institute of Technology and received a master’s degree in urban and water resource planning. He also spent 30 years in the U.S. Army Reserve, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1998. After retiring from the Corps, he spent more than 15 years in his water resource analysis consulting business, JAYMAC Consultants. In 2007, his firm was recognized by the Corps of Engineers and the State of Louisiana for their contributions to the development of the Louisiana Coastal Area Hurricane Protection and Ecosystem Restoration Study.

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Everyone who knew Jesse knew he loved his Bulldogs and his family. When he and Sharon moved to Starkville in 1999, he said, “Two of the greatest loves of my life are in Starkville: my daughter and my Bulldogs.” When his health was good, he attended as many Mississippi State football, basketball, and baseball games as he could manage, always wearing his maroon and white with pride.

After Sharon’s passing, Jesse married Anne Snell, and they continued to support the Bulldogs, especially women’s basketball, following the team to the Final Four in 2017 and 2018. They also had a place at Land O Lakes in Brooksville, where they spent many days in their pontoon boat. Jesse loved to fish and often said, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at the office.” 

Jesse also believed in serving his community. After he retired from the Corps in 1999, he volunteered for the American Red Cross and oversaw the disaster kitchen at First United Methodist Church after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After the Red Cross closed its Starkville office, Jesse was instrumental in organizing the Oktibbeha Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services (OSERVS) in 2010. He served as Board President of OSERVS for two years and also served on the boards of American Red Cross, the MSU Wesley Foundation, and Christian World Ministries.

Jesse was preceded in death by his first wife Sharon M. McDonald, his mother Marie McDonald, and his father Hal K. McDonald. He is survived by his wife Anne McDonald, his daughter Denise Cosper, his brother Eddie McDonald, and six grandchildren, Ryan and Jason Cosper, Alecea Harrington, and Sam, Luke, and Cooper Snell.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to the Mississippi State Bulldog Club or Oktibbeha Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services (OSERVS), both in Starkville, Mississippi.

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