Det. Steven McDonald’s widow on Thursday thanked all who helped sustain the family since her husband was shot three decades ago, while his son vowed to never let his father’s legacy of peace and forgiveness wither.
“I cannot stress enough, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you for everything that everyone has done for us,” Patricia Ann McDonald said on the second day of the wake for her late husband at St. Agnes Parish Center in Rockville Centre. “Not just this past week but over the past 30 years.”
Steven McDonald, 59, of Malverne, died Tuesday at a Manhasset hospital, four days after apparently suffering a heart attack.
McDonald was on duty when he was turned into a quadriplegic after being shot by a teenager in Central Park during a July 1986 encounter.
Instead of bowing out of service, he became a powerful symbol of courage and hope, often speaking to high school students, community members, and fellow NYPD officers about the power of forgiveness and resiliency.
Eight months after the shooting, McDonald forgave Shavod Jones, the teenager who shot him.
“Steven was a very special man,” his widow said. “And he would be so overwhelmed by the love that everyone is showing to his family.”
His son, NYPD Sgt. Conor McDonald, told mourners Thursday: “My dad loved his country. He loved the city and more importantly he loved this job.”
Noting the family initially was in shock, he expressed his gratitude for the enormous outpouring of support, adding his career was far from the only quality he hoped to share with his father.
“The most important thing that we can take away from my father is the fact of his mission of love and compassion, forgiveness,” Conor McDonald said. “That cannot die. That has to keep going. That has to transcend. So I think that’s a job that I must take and continue forever. That’s what my dad would want.”
He also called on those who have felt the loss of his father to join him.
“Everyone out there who’s been praying for us,” Conor McDonald said. “You’ve got to keep that message of faith, love, compassion and forgiveness alive.”
A full NYPD funeral for McDonald, with an expected 5,000 in attendance, is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a close friend of McDonald, will officiate.
With Joan Gralla