Ralph McDonald

Ralph McDonaldPhoto by Paul Neevel

When Ralph McDonald’s job as national sales manager for Eugene’s Percon Inc., maker of hand-held scanners, went away after the company was sold in 2001, he turned his hobby as an antiquarian restoration bookbinder into a second career. “Starting about 1820, masses of people began to read, and a hundred times more books became available,” he explains. “No one wants to throw out books that have been passed down for generations.” McDonald buys and resells antique books online and also works for bookstores, libraries and individuals. He recently repaired a copy of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility for a centenarian who had received it from her mother in 1906. “A dog had eaten a corner,” he reports. “I found another copy and spliced them together.” An Oregonian since age 12, when his family moved from Caldwell, Idaho, to Salem, McDonald married his wife, Bev McDonald, in 1971, graduated from Western Oregon University in 1973 and moved to Eugene in 1974. He protested the Vietnam War in the 1970s, when he spent time in jail in San Francisco, and later demonstrated against U.S. interventions in Central America and the Middle East. Recently he’s focused on environmental issues. A river runner and a Sierra Club member, McDonald served as plaintiff in the Western Environmental Law Center’s legal action to protect the Western pond turtle in the Rogue River. “I consider myself to be semi-retired,” says McDonald, co-chair along with Janet Bevirt of the Southwest Hills Neighborhood Association. “I have the time and flexibility to be a civic volunteer.” This year, as a member of the Eugene Sustainability Commission, he chaired a committee that asked the city to ban the use of anti-coagulant rat poison that also kills pets and other wildlife.