By RICHARD WALKER
and SOPHIE BONOMI
PORT ORCHARD — The couple that died in the house explosion Feb. 23 in Port Orchard was active in their faith and in her Guamanian culture.
William and Maria McDonald were “very active in many different areas of parish life, a fun-loving couple with a lot of energy and a lot of passion for [the church],” said the Rev. Phuong V. Hoang, pastor of St. Gabriel Church in Port Orchard.
“They are a tremendous family — selfless and close knit … It’s very sad. We’re just speechless.”
The McDonalds’ son, Bill, is an advertising representative for the North Kitsap Herald. Publisher Lori Maxim and the Herald staff met after receiving confirmation that his parents had died. Maxim asked employees to “keep Bill and his family in your thoughts and prayers. We will share information with you on how to support Bill as it becomes available.”
Father Hoang said parishioners are reaching out to the family today and that “certainly we’ll have an opportunity to plan and celebrate Mass and celebrate the lives” of the couple.
Maria McDonald was Chamorro, an indigenous Guamanian, and held several positions in the Guamanian Club of Bremerton & Vicinity. According to the club’s website, she was the club’s secretary and membership director.
McDonald helped organize Guamanian cultural events in Kitsap, among them the Guam Liberation Celebration Potluck Picnic on July 25 at Otto Jarstad Park in Bremerton — remembering the recapture of Guam from Japanese forces in 1944.
Marcy Balajadia-Aguigui is classified manager of Sound Publishing, parent company of the North Kitsap Herald. She is Chamorro and met McDonald at the Guam Liberation Celebration in 2015. She said people drove from as far as three hours away to attend the event.
It was at the event that Balajadia-Aguigui learned her aunt and McDonald were related. Balajadia-Aguigui said she referred to McDonald as “auntie,” a form of respect in Chamorro culture.
Balajadia-Aguigui said Chamorro passings are customarily followed by a period of gatherings, vigils, and public and family rosaries.
Donna Etchey, advertising manager of Sound Publishing’s newspapers in Kitsap County, said she and her colleagues are praying for the McDonald family.
“Our hearts go out to the family,” she said. “We are stunned and we are praying for healing for the family and for all those who have been touched by their lives.”
Chatima Flores, wife of Guamanian Club president Manny B. Flores, said she and others in the community are “in shock” over the McDonalds’ deaths.
“We just saw them last Friday. They were so full of life,” she said. “They were good people … It’s just unexpected.”
Flores said Maria McDonald had planned to retire in May, and the couple was looking forward to traveling in an R.V.