Barbara McDonald, a native Otero County resident, was named Citizen of the Year on Saturday night during the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce's annual awards banquet at the Tays Special Events Center.
McDonald, a descendent of pioneer settlers of the Southwest, grew up on a ranch in the Upper Peņasco Canyon area in the Sacramento Mountains.
After early schooling in a one-room building, McDonald later attended Cloudcroft schools before going on to earn three degrees from New Mexico State University.
McDonald began her community service more than 50 years ago when she and her husband, Clif, co-owned several Alamogordo businesses.
In 1958, McDonald was president of the Alamogordo Junior Chamber of Commerce Auxiliary. At the time, most residential streets in Alamogordo were not marked, but McDonald's group of young women raised funds by selling hamburgers at the Otero County Fair to erect street signs on every intersection in the city. The group also helped raise funds for the one-story hospital formerly on 10th Street.
Despite trying to raise a young family, McDonald was active in organizations that benefited children. She taught Sunday School for many years, belonged to the Parent Teacher Association, was a Brownie Scout leader, Cub Scout den mother and a Little League baseball mom. She did this while driving her children to and from dance lessons, band, cheerleading practice and sporting events.
When McDonald's youngest daughter, Cyd, was born blind, she committed herself to Cyd's education and became involved with the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped. She began working as a parent volunteer and substitute teacher. Then, in 1970, she joined the faculty as a full time teacher and eventually retired as assistant superintendent in 1998.
In addition to her faculty obligations, McDonald was active in national, state and local professional organizations such as the National Education Association, American Association of Workers for the Blind and American Educators for the Blind. She chaired and was a member of many accreditation teams, conducted teacher training workshops and served on Special Education advisory committees for Alamogordo Public Schools.
In 1995, McDonald became president of the Otero County Association for Retarded Citizens and received that organization's community service award in 1997.
In 1985, New Mexico Gov. Toney Anaya appointed her to the Governor's Committee on Concerns of the Handicapped.
In 2003, McDonald wrote and published "A Tapestry of Time: the History of the School for the Visually Handicapped" in honor of the school's centennial.
McDonald has been a member of the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce since 1976. Before 1976, she was a member of the now-defunct Chamber of Commerce Women's Auxiliary. She served two terms on the chamber's board of directors and is still an active member of the chamber's transportation committee.
For at least 30 years, she traveled monthly around the state with her husband to attend New Mexico Department of Transportation meetings promoting the expansion of U.S. Highway 54 between El Paso and Alamogordo, and the construction of the Charlie T. Lee Memorial Relief Route.
According to Mike Espiritu, executive director of the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce, McDonald has always believed in the positive effects civic organizations create in providing community and international needs.
"She was the first woman in New Mexico to become a Rotarian and the first woman president of her club and a Rotary District Governor's aide between 1993-97," he said. "She received a Paul Harris Fellow award from her Rotary club."
McDonald's political activity includes fundraising, publicity, poll worker and organizing volunteers. She also served on U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman's Service Academy Review Committee, which reviews and rates candidates for appointments to U.S. military service academies.
McDonald has worked on many city and county centennial celebrations. Several of her historical stories were selected for the centennial publications. One of her stories, Easter on the Rio Peņasco, was chosen by the Tularosa Basin Historical Society as their publication to be distributed to visitors of the museum during Easter.
After her retirement, she increased her volunteer work. She joined the Otero County Association of Educational Retirees and twice served as its president. She chaired the committee for the 2007 OCAER state convention held in Alamogordo and was named OCAER Member of the Year in 2009.
McDonald presently is a board member and the immediate past president of the New Mexico State University Alamogordo Foundation.
She was honored by New Mexico State University with the Friend of the College Award for 2009 and is a member of the Program Committee of the Tularosa Basin Historical Society.
McDonald and her husband, Clif, have been married for 57 years and share three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.