Sam McDonald: A Stanford Pioneer

Decorative green image with tan shapes as a boarder with the text 'Legacies'

In 1939 Stanford officials recognized McDonald’s contributions to the University by naming a road near the athletic fields after him. Ray Lyman Wilbur, then President of Stanford University and a former Dean of the School of Medicine, proclaimed:

If I ever had to run against Sam McDonald for the presidency of the University, I'd be mighty afraid of the result.

Photograph of a Sam McDonald and Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur standing in front of a street sign titled 'Sam McDonald Rd'
Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur and Sam McDonald. 1941.
Courtesy the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University.

Another recognition came in 1950 when the annual Convalescent Home volunteer day was renamed Sam McDonald Day. McDonald recalled how large the event had become in those years.

[In 1953 at] the annual barbecue at the Stanford Convalescent Home on Sam McDonald Day, an estimated five thousand students gathered to be served around the new eight-by-twenty-two-foot pit!

During his years at Stanford McDonald purchased hundreds of acres of real estate in redwood forests near campus. When he passed away in 1957, McDonald left a third of his estate to the Convalescent Home and two-thirds to Stanford University. In 1958 the University transferred the land it had received to San Mateo County, which used the gift to establish Sam McDonald Park in 1970.

Photograph of a wooden sign with the text 'Sam McDonald Park San Mateo County Park and Recreation Commission'
Entrance to Sam McDonald Park.
Courtesy of The San Mateo Parks Department.