Robert L. McDonald Papers
Scope and Contents
The collection primarily contains materials gathered by McDonald during his time serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Included are materials directly relating to McDonald's training and activities in the Air Corps as well as general information about wartime activities in the Aleutian Islands where he was stationed after graduating from training. These materials are located in Series 2. Additionally, the collection contains materials relating to McDonald's early life, school career, and trips/vacations taken by McDonald and friends, including Alan Bible.
- McDonald, Robert L. (Creator, Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.
Robert (Bob) Lewis McDonald was born in Reno, Nevada on March 15, 1920, to Leola Lewis and Joseph F. McDonald. He attended South Side Elementary School, B. D. Billinghurst Junior High School, and Reno High School, where he played football and was elected student body president. In 1938, he graduated from high school and left Reno to attend the University of Santa Clara until he joined the Army Air Corps in 1941 as a Second Lieutenant. He was a member of the 54th Fighter Squadron that was sent to the Aleutian Islands in June 1942, two days after Dutch Harbor, Alaska was attacked by the Japanese. He flew a P-38 over Kiska on many missions, wrecking a couple of planes before he shot down a zero in October 1942. As a major, he eventually became a Squadron Commander in the 46th Squadron, where he flew off Iwo Jima flying P-51s. McDonald married his hometown girlfriend, Gloria Peck, on January 27, 1942, in Everett, Washington where he was stationed; they had four children: Robert, Jr., Tim, Martha, and Peggy.
After World War II ended, McDonald attended the University of Nevada, followed by the University of San Francisco Law School. He graduated in 1949 and became a member of the Nevada State Bar that same year. He began his legal career as a Deputy Attorney General and later became a Deputy United States Attorney. In 1952, he entered private practice in Reno with Alan Bible, who was elected U. S. Senator in 1954. They remained partners until the U. S. Senate adopted rules prohibiting lawyer members from maintaining private law practices. At that time, McDonald began looking for other partners, one of them being Don Carano, which was the beginning of McDonald Carano Wilson, LLP.
As an attorney, McDonald founded several of northern Nevada's most successful gaming companies and was a principal in the development of Incline Village, Nevada on the shores of Lake Tahoe. He was also a board member of Valley Bank of Nevada, an original partner of Boomtown, and, at the time of his death, part owner of the Bonanza Casino.
A lifelong and passionate Democrat, McDonald was very active in the Democratic National Committee serving as a Nevada delegate in the 1960 and 1964 Democratic conventions. He also headed the Northern Nevada Committee to elect Lyndon Johnson. McDonald was a close friend and personal confidant to two governors, Grant Sawyer and Mike O'Callaghan. His love of politics was surpassed only by his desire to give back to his community. He was instrumental in starting both the Sky Tavern Junior Ski Program and Pop Warner Football, and was a trustee of the Reno National Championship Air Races and the Northern Nevada chapter of the National Association of Christians and Jews. He served as Chairman of the Nevada Fish and Game Commission and was affiliated with the American Lung Association. He was awarded the Jake Lawlor Award at the University of Nevada, Reno, which is bestowed annually to an individual or individuals who have demonstrated substantial and exemplary support of Nevada's intercollegiate athletics program over an extended period of time.
McDonald was an avid outdoorsman. He spent his early childhood summers at Zephyr Cove, Lake Tahoe where he developed his love of fishing and boating. He also enjoyed duck hunting all over northern Nevada and California. His most fulfilling project in later life was his founding of Fun Camp, a program that funds trips for underprivileged boys and girls to summer camp at Mountain Meadow Ranch in Northern California.
Robert McDonald passed away on November 15, 2008, in Reno, Nevada.
[Information taken from Robert McDonald's obituary published in the Reno Gazette Journal]
1.5 Linear Feet (4 boxes + 1 OS folder)
Language of Materials
Robert L. McDonald (1920-2008) was a Reno lawyer and active community member. The collection primarily contains materials gathered by McDonald during his time serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Included are materials directly relating to McDonald's training and activities in the Air Corps, general information about wartime activities in the Aleutian Islands, and materials relating to McDonald's early life, school career, and trips/vacations taken by McDonald and friends, including Alan Bible.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Peggy McDonald in 2006, 2010, and 2012.
- McDonald, Peggy (Margaret A.) (Donor, Person)
- McDonald, Robert L. (Creator, Person)
- Guide to the Robert L. McDonald Papers
- Jessica Maddox
- December 2018
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository
Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA