Amherst Magazine

Angus W. McDonald Jr. '65

Deceased July 3, 1995

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In Memory

On Saturday mornings, freshman year, Angus and I trudged over to Arnie Arons’ 8 a.m. physics lectures from the “middle” stairwell at Pratt, second floor. The prospect of continuing our walks in the Bird Sanctuary helped sustain us through Arons’ harangues (“And to think you people will vote in three years!”). We were an odd couple: His Kentucky childhood helped make him knowledgeable about the trees and birds we saw; as a Pittsburgh city kid, I liked the soothing feeling of pine needles crunching under our feet. But he was a gentle teacher, and I was a willing audience for anything far removed from mass spectrometers or “the wave experiment.”

After graduation Angus earned his Ph.D. in Chinese history at the Univ. of California at Berkeley. He taught at Stanford, Macalester College in St. Paul, and the Univ. of Minnesota. He was an internationally renowned expert on the subject of the Communist revolution in China and a prolific writer on the subject. In the ‘70s he was a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the founder and president of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars.

Angus’s interest in travel and research in China brought him to Washington for government support on several occasions. He often wanted to try the newest Chinese restaurants and talk world politics. Needless to say, I was much better at finding the restaurant than offering any insights into Asian geopolitics.

In the early ‘80s August worked for the Control Data Corporation developing programs in Japanese language instruction. He later founded the Asia Education Network in Minneapolis to create links between experts on Asian affairs and the business community.

Many years after our walks in the Bird Sanctuary, Angus invited me to come to Minnesota for a canoeing trip in the lakes regions. After I asked a few questions, he confessed that with bad timing we might encounter the “black fly” season. The prospect of attack from these biting pests led me to defer the trip (indefinitely).

Angus and his family inherited a rambling old wood-frame country house not far from Harpers Ferry, WV, which they called The Bower. Angus asked me to visit, and he obviously loved being in an informal, backwoods setting. He enjoyed showing me around the orchard, and we did some boating and fishing together (without black flies).

In Minneapolis he started a project to help pre-teens understand a little more about finance than they usually do. He helped develop comic books to get the message across and worked hard to find corporate support for the project. This seemed in keeping with his refusal to give up his interests in whatever he thought was important, regardless of the obstacles.

I will miss this open, guileless, thoughtful friend. Angus is survived by his wife, Susan; his daughters, Elizabeth and Louise; his son, Angus ’90; and by his mother, Elizabeth Dandridge McDonald.

Sherman E. Katz ‘65


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