The history community is saddened to learn of the passing of Dr Lorna McDonald OAM. Born in Portland, Victoria in 1916, McDonald moved to Rockhampton with her family in 1963. She studied externally via the University of Queensland, and in 1975 attained a Masters Degree for her thesis on land settlement in the Port Curtis and Leichhardt districts of Queensland. In 1985, McDonald was awarded a PhD for her thesis on the history of the cattle industry in Central Queensland. The same year, she became a member of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, an organisation she would have a long and productive relationship with, publishing papers in the Queensland History Journal and speaking at conferences and seminars organised by the Society.
McDonald was a tireless researcher and writer, producing over 20 volumes throughout her career. Her first book, Rockhampton: A history of City and District was published in 1981, and her most recent text, The Moving Mind: The Life of Henry Arthur Kellow, 1881-1935, was published in 2016 shortly after her 100thbirthday. She was appointed Rockhampton Historians from 1976 to 1980 and Gladstone Historian from 1984 to 1987. Her enthusiastic approach to history earned her many accolades, including a Doctor of Letters from Central Queensland University in 2000, nomination as a Fellow of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies in 2005, and the 2007 John Douglas Kerr Medal of Distinction.
McDonald’s fervour for history extended into organisational management. She served on the Queensland Heritage Council, was long-term member and President of the Rockhampton & District Historical Society, and Patron of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). She was one of PHA (Qld)’s earliest members, commencing in 1991. In 1995 the Commonwealth awarded McDonald an Order of Australia Medal in acknowledgment of her service to the Rockhampton & District Historical Society and to historical research.
Dr McDonald is survived by her children Donal, Roger and Gavin, and their respective families, and was farewelled in Rockhampton on Friday 30 June 2017. The Professional Historians Association (Qld) extends its condolences to McDonald’s family, colleagues and friends.