An older man in a black hoodie sitting in a chair.

We remember… Joseph P. “Joe Mac” McDonald

by Mari Nardolillo Dias

Publisher’s note: Dr. Mari Nardolillo Dias will now be writing customized obituaries for families who have lost a loved one and request this contracted service. Email [email protected] for more information. Mari is the author GriefSpeak, a column on grief and grieving which runs each Friday.


McDonald, Joseph P., “Joe Mac”, 71, of North Providence, passed away December 10, 2021, peacefully in his home surrounded by his loving family. Born in Providence, he was the son of the late Walter and Alice (Clarkin) McDonald of East Greenwich. He was the beloved husband of Deborah (Manzo) McDonald for 44 years and the father of Joseph Jr., Esq., Anthony, Esq., and Michael (fiancé, Gianna Cavallaro) McDonald.  

Joe was a proud graduate of East Greenwich High School 68’ and Bryant College 75’. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and was a decorated combat veteran seeing action in 1969-1971.  Joe also served as a Lieutenant in the National Guard. After his honorable discharge, he started his career as a Diesel Fitter at Macy’s Department Store. He then went on to work at the R.I. Department of Corrections and owned the Car Wash King in North Providence for many years. You could always count on seeing Joe’s smiling face as you drove down Mineral Spring Avenue.  Many pulled into the car wash just to share a laugh with him. He later worked in the Providence College Security Department, where he was loved by all faculty, staff, and students.

Joe was an avid Providence College basketball fan and was voted PC Basketball Fan of The Year in 1987, along with his brother-in-law, Anthony Manzo, and from 1984-1998, Joe and Anthony entertained the crowds at the Providence Civic Center as the PC mascots, The Blues Brothers.  Joe was not only an entertainer, but a jokester. He would light up the room with his quick wit. He was often dressed in costume; most often posing as Michael Jackson, Santa Claus, The Irish Golfer, Gorilla, Nerd, Penguin, Uncle Sam, or Elvis. He also was a man of many joke gadgets. You could often find him playing pranks with invisible ink, a gum zapper, an ice cube fly, motorized rats, the invisible dog, and fart machines. It’s apparent that Joe loved an audience, whether it was a family gathering or a party with friends. Joe had a love for performing and making people laugh. The world was his stage.

Joe also had a sensitive side. He volunteered for several non-profit organizations and nursing homes. He devoted a portion of his life to an organization near and dear to his heart, Teen Challenge Rhode Island.  Joe did it all –f rom helping at events, to bringing gifts as Santa, or just popping in to put a smile on the residents’ faces.

He is survived by his siblings, Mary Alice Stasiuk (Paul), Sheila Dlugolecki (Christopher), Daniel (Diane), James, Jack (Susan), Timothy (Maura), and Michael (April) McDonald. He is also survived by three brothers-in-law, Pasco (MaryAnn), Anthony, and Jeffrey (Janelle) Manzo, and many nieces and nephews.

Joe was an amazing man who touched everyone he met. Most notably, there was nobody he loved and cherished more in this world than his wife and three children. He was certainly a “ONE OF A KIND” and will never be forgotten.

CHANGE: New arrangements for Joe Mac: Wake: Sunday Dec 26. Nardolillo Funeral Home 5-8 Funeral: Monday Dec 27, 10:30 Restoration Church

All are welcome to attend a celebration of life, Monday, December 20, 2021, at 10:30 am in Restoration Church, 244 Lexington Avenue, North Providence. Visiting hours will be held Sunday, December 19, 2021, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the Nardolillo Funeral Home, 1278 Park Avenue, Cranston.

MASKS WILL BE REQUIRED! In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Teen Challenge Rhode Island, 572 Elmwood Avenue, Providence.

Visit Nardolillo Funeral Home for online condolences.


Dr. Mari Dias is a nationally board-certified counselor, holds a Fellow in Thanatology and is certified in both grief counseling and complicated grief. Dias is a Certified death doula, and has a Certificate in Psychological Autopsy.

She is Professor of Clinical Mental Health, Master of Science program, Johnson & Wales University. Dias is the director of GracePointe Grief Center, in North Kingstown, RI.  For more information, go to: . She is the author of GriefSpeak, vol. 1, Stories of Loss


  1. Sharon Mitchell Ring on December 15, 2021 at 1:15 am

    My heart breaks for you. I remember so many parties with you and Joe where you were both so happy and in love. He was such an entertainer and so in love with you. The two of you have built such a good life, and have brought so much love and laughter to so many. I can’t imagine your loss but I am sending you love and holding you in my arms.