Jake Norman McDonald passed away April 1, 2020, in Norman, Oklahoma, at the age of 28. Although he died too soon, he leaves behind a legacy of love, friendship, and kindness to everyone who knew him.
Born August 20, 1991, Jake attended Norman schools, from Middle Earth Child Development Center and McKinley Elementary School through Norman High School and Norman North High School, where he graduated in 2010. He attended classes at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) and the University of Oklahoma. He worked at Academy Sports and Outdoors in Norman and for a short time as a newspaper journalist in Weatherford, Oklahoma.
Jake was authentic, grounded, and wise. He easily saw through pretense and called things as he saw them. Despite his powerful physical presence, he had the most tender of hearts. Many of his friends considered Jake their best friend, the one person they could turn to especially in times of trouble. He had his own struggles, so he could always relate, and he empathized without judging. He was protector and mentor to his younger siblings, sharing adventures and long conversations with his brother Alec and watching movies with his sister Laura, whose many questions he would always patiently answer. He had special bonds with his stepfather Joe and with all his grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
Jake loved books, a passion inherited from both his father, Henry McDonald, an English professor, and his mother, Alice Stanton, an editor. He discovered reading as a boy with the Harry Potter books, which he reread multiple times. As he grew older, other favorites were nineteenth-century Russian novels, historical fiction, biographies, and the daily New York Times. While studying at UCO, he became deeply interested in political science, economics, and history, and he read continuously in those areas for the rest of his life.
Jake was a sports fanatic, both as a player and a follower of his favorite teams and players. As a boy, he played soccer and said he felt most alive playing basketball. A lifelong N.Y. Yankees fan, he attended Yankees games with his Grandpa Norman during trips to New York, which he described as a highlight of his life. In his early twenties, encouraged by his stepfather Joe, and inspired by his idol Roger Federer, he began playing tennis. He closely followed Mixed Martial Arts, attending a UFC championship in Las Vegas with his father Henry. He also enjoyed summertime trips to Rehoboth Beach, North Carolina, with Henry’s family.
Jake’s opportunities to play the sports he loved, like his career aspirations, were hampered by the multiple orthopedic problems and ensuing surgeries he endured during his adult years. Nevertheless, in spite of his pain and difficulties, he always had a ready smile and an open heart for others. His sympathies extended not only to people but to homeless dogs; he wanted to rescue every stray he encountered.
In the final weeks of his life, Jake suffered from undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes, which led to his unexpected death. All of Jake’s family members and close friends are not yet sure how they can now live on this earth without him. Yet as they seek healing, they have the comfort of knowing that his soul is at peace and that perpetual light is shining upon him for all eternity.
Jake is preceded in death by his grandparents Angus and Gail (“Baba”) McDonald, his grandmother Katherine M. Stanton, and his step-grandparents Robert Freeman and Frances Colleen Mashburn. He is survived by his mother, Alice Stanton, and his father, William Henry McDonald; his stepfather, Joseph Mashburn; his brother, Alec McDonald; his sister, Laura Mashburn; his grandfather and grandmother, Norman and Susan Stanton; his aunts and uncles Charles and Maria McDonald, Lora and Frank Ferguson, Tamera Luzzatto, Terry and Mary Stanton, Amy and Robert Walker, and Beth Brown and Tom Peters; his godparents Janis Paul and Daniel Ransom; and his devoted girlfriend, Jessica Potter.
A memorial service celebrating Jake’s life will be held in Norman, Oklahoma, at a later date, with details to be announced. The service is postponed at this time due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be sent to support Friends for Folks Dog Training Program in Lexington, Oklahoma. Friends for Folks gives Oklahoma inmates the opportunity to train rescue dogs, with many of the dogs going on to become service dogs or well-trained family pets. Donations may be made online at www.friendsforfolks.org, or by mailing a check (with Jake’s name in the memo line) to Friends for Folks Fund, c/o University Animal Hospital, 1218 Lindsey Plaza Dr., Norman, OK 73071. Donations are tax-deductible, and a receipt will be sent back to donors.