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Local broadcasting pioneer passes
Statesboro friends mourn Donald McDougald
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Donald Outland McDougald

Longtime Statesboro broadcast and cable executive owner Donald Outland McDougald, 83, passed away unexpectedly Wed., Dec. 22, after a brief attack at a hospital in Brunswick, Ga.

McDougald, whose home is in Montreat, N.C., was visiting with relatives and friends in Darien at the time. Friends in Statesboro mourned his death Thursday and recalled McDougald's strength of character and friendly personality.

Long-time friend Betty Hodges remembered fondly the close friendship she and her late husband Fred enjoyed with Don and his wife, Betty.

"Betty and I went to school together at Register and later at Wesleyan Conservatory in Macon, "she said. "Don and Fred went through school together and played football at Statesboro High. They were great friends both here in Statesboro and after they moved to North Carolina."

Don Hackett recalled that he and his wife Maryann came to Statesboro in 1948 at about the time Don and Betty McDougald were returning to Statesboro. "We were neighbors and soon became good friends," he said."I remember Don coming to Georgia Teachers College as assistant comptroller and later comptroller. He was a conscientious fellow, always having something in mind for the betterment of the community. He was once of my best friends and a real asset to this community."

McDougald, a Statesboro native, was born Feb. 25, 1927 and attended elementary and high school in Statesboro before entering Clemson College, and later, Emory University in Atlanta. His education was put on hold due to being called to serve his country in World War II, where he was assigned as part of the planned Japanese homeland invasion force.

The end of the war in the Pacific theater with the Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bombs led to a cancellation of the invasion, of which he would have been a part. He remained in Japan for some time as a member of the occupation forces.

After service in World War II, McDougald returned to Emory and completed his education with graduation from the Emory University School of Business.

Prior to his Emory career, he studied at Clemson before entering the military. His service took him to several posts in the states and ultimately to occupying forces of Japan.

Following his service, he married his long-time sweetheart Betty and family members still laugh at how at times without transportation, he often bicycled from Statesboro to Register to visit. After college graduation, he was hired as Comptroller of Georgia Teachers College (now Georgia Southern University).

McDougald's career in broadcasting began at an early age, and his dream was culminated when in 1958 he joined his mother and brothers, Horace and Worth, in purchasing Radio Station WWNS from broadcast businessman Bob Thompson, who left to become Mayor of Tybee.

Soon, he purchased the full facilities of the station from the other family members and instituted the building of FM Radio Station WMCD, which along with station WWNS he operated until his retirement from active broadcasting. In addition, he owned and operated radio stations in Sylvania, Milledgeville and Danville, Virginia.

McDougald organized and brought into being a partnership of local entrepreneurs in Statesboro to form Statesboro's first cable company, Statesboro CATV, Inc. He is credited with having what some describe as the ‘first automated broadcast station in Georgia', utilizing early-on IBM card sort machines that he became familiar with at the Georgia Teachers College bookkeeping operations. He adapted them to building the daily logs for WWNS and WMCD. Later on, as computers were developed and became available, he moved his stations further into that area.

Throughout his life, McDougald was extremely active in various civic endeavors in the community, including his Presidency of the Statesboro Rotary Club and his work with the Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees and with various sports activities of Georgia Teachers College and local high schools.

He was a leader with the Georgia Rotary Student Program which offered scholarships for visiting college level students from other countries, developed after WWII when many schools and universities in war-torn cities were not available to their native youth. In return, he and Betty visited the students in numerous foreign countries to renew acquaintances.

McDougald was a dedicated member of Statesboro's First Presbyterian Church, and he and Betty spent many days working closely with the church its many outreach ministries.

"Don was a backbone of our church," said church member Tal Callaway. "He was chair of our board of deacons when we bought the property on Fair Road to build our new church."

Former pastor Dr. John Bressler described McDougald as "a perfect Presbyterian."

"He was a Scot and proud of his church and his heritage," he said. "He wore his tartan as often as he could. He felt strongly about his roots. Don was one of the leaders of our church as we moved from the Savannah Avenue location to the new campus on Fair Road."

Expressing admiration for McDougald, Bressler added. "Don was a man of great vision and dedication."

That dedication spread to civic duty as well. "Don led many community organizations," said William R. "Dub" Lovett. "I worked with him in Jaycees, Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce. Don was very community minded, a person with strong progressive instincts and ideas."
Lovett called McDougald "a first class citizen who both provided leadership and worked behind the scene to get things done for his community."

McDougald was president of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters at the time of the unexpected death of its executive director. In order to keep the nation's largest state broadcasters organization fully active, he found it necessary to work many days in Atlanta.

He learned to fly at the Statesboro airport in order get to and from Atlanta more easily than driving on two-lane roads the 450 mile round trip. For this work, Don was named to the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame at the University of Georgia in Athens.

In 1996, after working with a branch of Savannah Federal Savings and Loan Association, he fully retired to North Carolina, building a permanent home on a mountainside very close to the Billy Graham home in Montreat.

McDougald used a quantity of board and timbers from the old Bulloch County Cliponreka School building, which was being demolished, as a reminder that his mother first taught school in that original building before marrying his father.

In Montreat, he was active in local municipal government and conservation activities including building of local tennis courts and sports facilities. Plans have been announced that a mountain peak in the community will be named for Don and Betty McDougald.

"Don was a good friend and a good businessman and now he is celebrating Christmas in a better place," Callaway said.

McDougald was preceded in death by his father, Walter Edwin McDougald, and his mother, Isabel Hall McDougald, of Statesboro and Clito.

He was also preceded by his wife, Betty Sue Brannen McDougald of Register and Statesboro; as well as late brothers Walter Edwin McDougald II, John Horace McDougald of Statesboro, and Dr. William Worth McDougald of Athens.

He is survived by one brother, Michael Hall McDougald of Rome, Ga, and by three children; Sally (Fred) Hooks of Atlanta and Darien, Margaret Brannen (Meg) Thurmond of Marietta, and Walter Edwin (Sydney) McDougald III of Montreat. Grandchildren include Jason (Ellen) McDougald of Fairview; Maggie and Abby Thurman of Marietta/Atlanta; and Sarah Hooks of Dallas.

McDougald is also survived by three great-grandchildren; Isabel, Ian and Lachlan McDougald. Surviving sisters-in-law include Alice McDonald of Harris Neck, Ga. and Julia Riley of Brunswick, Ga. as well as a special friend, Kay Burch of Darien, Ga.

Visitation will be held Wed., Dec. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Joiner Anderson Funeral Home . Special memorial services will be held Thursday, Dec. 30 at First Presbyterian Church of Statesboro at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Danny Grace officiating.

Inurnment will be in The Nancy Holland Sibley Memorial Columbarium in Montreat next to the free flowing mountain stream from Greybeard Mountain and Lake Susan that has been the lifeblood of that community since time began.

Those memorial services will be scheduled for early spring and warmer weather, when friends return to their mountain homes, and will be announced at a later date.
Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home of Statesboro is in overall charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Darien Building Fund at P.O. Box 706, Darien, GA 31305.

 

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