Myles Thomas McDonald, 88, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania passed away peacefully on June 4, 2023, at Cathedral Village, 600 E. Cathedral Road, where he resided since 2013. He was born January 9, 1935, in Reading to Myles Francis and Margaret Theresa (Gallagher) McDonald. He was the oldest of two children.
Myles, also referred to as “Tom,” was a 1953 graduate of Reading Central Catholic High School. He then earned his B.S. in Psychology from St. Joseph’s University. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army from July 1957 to 1959 with the Adjutant General Corps where he handled security clearances and later worked at a recruiting station. Upon discharge, he held several industry positions before developing a sincere interest in helping people through social work. “I do believe people need people,” said Myles. “They need someone who will really listen to them and try and ease their personal miseries; to influence how they see and feel about themselves and their lives.”
A devout Catholic, Myles aimed to combine his quest to help human beings through social work with spirituality. This led him to enter a Jesuit Novitiate to prepare for active ministry. He remained in the seminary for nearly two years, but a spinal operation dictated he leave. After 14 months of recuperation, he determined that social work was his “fated field.” He was hired as a caseworker for the Berks County Board of Assistance. After years of positively impacting people’s lives, he aimed to develop greater knowledge and professional skill. He achieved his Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from The University of Pennsylvania and later earned an Advanced Practice Certificate in Family Therapy from the Family Institute of Philadelphia.
Over the years, Myles continued to serve the community with leadership roles at the West Philadelphia Community Mental Health Consortium, CO-MHAR, Inc. and Medical Fund Advisors, Inc., where he administered trusts established by the U.S. Government for severely injured individuals, primarily children. In this role, he provided case management, coordination of medical service providers, advocacy, and ongoing counseling.
Myles cared deeply about helping people overcome hardship and suffering. This desire to serve led him to volunteer beginning in 2000 at St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church in Germantown. He was a member of the parish Stephen Ministries, which supports individuals through times of transition and crisis. He also shared his special brand of goodness with retired Jesuit priests who lived at Manresa Hall, the infirmary at Saint Joseph’s University Loyola Jesuit residence. Myles devoted his encouraging energy to uplifting the priests’ spirits through engaging conversation and individualized entertainment activities to ensure their happiness and comfort to the end of their days.
Myles is survived by his brother Joseph D. McDonald of Cary, North Carolina. His sister-in-law Rosalie (Fonte) McDonald predeceased him. Myles also leaves behind multiple nieces and nephews who loved him dearly.
In his lifetime, Myles, who was a talented photographer, built a wonderful large community of friends around the world and was regarded as an integral member of their families. He treated everyone with dignity, respect, empathy and extraordinary kindness. He never forgot a birthday and single-handedly kept Hallmark in business with his card purchases for every holiday. Along with the sent card, he was known for writing a personal note, which expressed genuine love, care and concern for the recipient. These relationships brought him such joy and purpose in his life.
An avid supporter of musicians and artisans, Myles was happiest during his trips to Ireland, from whence his great-grandparents came, and glorious time spent in Loch na Fooey with Irish basket maker Joe Hogan and his family.
Myles was buried on Friday, June 9th at Gethsemane Cemetery next to his beloved parents. His burial followed a morning funeral mass at St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church. Funeral arrangements were managed by John F. Murray Funeral Home in Flourtown. The family wishes to extend sincere appreciation to the Cathedral Village staff as well as to Crossroads Hospice for their warmhearted care. If you wish to honor Myles’s memory, please support the arts by contributing to your favorite cultural arts organization.