McDONALD, Eugene, Jr., LCDR

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Last Rank
Lieutenant Commander
Last Primary NEC
163X-Special Duty Officer - Intelligence
Last Rating/NEC Group
Intelligence Specialist
Primary Unit
1929-1942, CNO - OPNAV
Service Years
1917 - 1919
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember McDONALD, Eugene, Jr. (Gene), LCDR.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Syracuse, New York
Last Address
Chicago, Illinois, 15 May 1958

Date of Passing
May 01, 1958
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Last Known Activity

 Eugene Francis McDonald, Jr.
Founder of Zenith Radio Corporation

Active duty WWI 1917-1919. Continued service in the U.S.N.R.F.

Eugene Francis McDonald, Jr., aka E.F. (Gene) McDonald, "The Commander", (1886–1958) founded Zenith Radio in 1921, a major American radio and electronics concern.

He was born in 1886 in Syracuse, New York. His father was variously remembered as a storekeeper and insurance salesman. McDonald dropped out of high school at age 14 to help support the family. 

In 1904, he began working for the Franklin Auto Company in Syracuse. He quickly rose in the sales and promotion areas and made a name for himself in that endeavour. In 1910, he moved to Chicago to join a speculative business of a friend of his who wished to manufacture an automobile self starter. The business did not succeed and McDonald lost his investment. 

In 1911, he was in partnership in Detroit selling used cars, and by the end of 1912 had begun a credit finance company for the purchase of new and used cars - one commodity that had previously not been available on credit. 

He enlisted in the navy during World War I as a Lieutenant in Naval Intelligence. He served in the US Navy from 1917 to 1919 and held the rank of Lieutenant-Commander in the Naval Reserve Forces (USNRF). His commission came about as he understood the operation of a device used in the Navy for recording radio and telephone conversations - the 'telegraphone' - and the manufacturer was no longer in business.   After the war, "he remained active as a naval reserve officer". He resigned his commission in 1939.

He became interested in the radio business in 1920 upon learning that there was money to be made in it. However, it was necessary to hold a manufacturing license from Edwin Armstrong - and issuance of these had been suspended indefinitely. However, in 1921 he entered into a partnership with the founders of the Chicago Radio Laboratory, Karl Hassel and Ralph Mathews. Under the tradename 'Z-nith', this company held a valuable Armstrong license but lacked funds for expansion to meet the demands of their order book. 

McDonald was appointed General Manager and the partnership was formally incorporated in 1923 as the Zenith Radio Corporation. By 1927, the company was large enough to secure its own RCA manufacturing license. McDonald headed the company for more than thirty years.

Zenith introduced color television in 1961, and by 1969 was within 2 percentage points of R.C.A., the industry leader. In 1971, "Zenith passed R.C.A. to become the number one seller of television in the American market". Eugene McDonald did not live to see Zenith's success with color television, he died in 1958.

Other Comments:
E.F. McDonald, then a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve Force (USNRF), played a seminal role in the development of shortwave radio for long-distance communications when Zenith developed shortwave receivers and transmitters for the 1925 MacMillan Arctic Expedition. He also persuaded navy communications chief Admiral Ridley McLean to send a radio amateur equipped with similar gear on the fleet’s 1925 Pacific cruise. The communications over the 12,000 miles between the MacMillan expedition in northern Greenland and the fleet in New Zealand waters had much to do with the adoption of the shortwave spectrum for global communications. The 1925 MacMillan Arctic Expedition, with McDonald as both cosponsor and the second in command, also marked the first use of ship-to-ship shortwave telephonic communications, the first use of aircraft in major geographic exploration, and the first successful use of shortwave communications in polar regions; furthermore, the expedition served as a training ground for American polar explorer Richard Evelyn Byrd.

World War II
McDonald’s private life was as flamboyant and public as was his effect on the radio and broadcasting industries. Long one of the wealthiest and most attractive bachelors of his generation, McDonald lived aboard a series of ever-larger yachts, culminating in his 1928 purchase of the 185 foot long Mizpah. McDonald’s fascination with the entertainment industry, and not incidentally with showgirls and singers, led to lifelong friendships with many of the nation’s leading entertainers, who were regular guests aboard the Mizpah.

Patrol Yacht: Laid down in 1926 as the yacht Savarona by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp., Newport News, VA. Sold to Eugene F. McDonald of Philadelphia, PA, in 1928 and renamed Mizpah in 1929.
At the beginning of World War II, McDonald contributed the ship to the U.S. Navy. Acquired by the Navy, 16 March 1942; Converted at Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, Wisc; Commissioned USS Mizpah (PY-29), 26 October 1942. The ship served as an armed convoy escort and command vessel throughout the war. Decommissioned, 15 January 1946. The ships last resting place is off the coast of Palm Beach, Florida.

Background on: Eugene McDonald Kinney
Eugene McDonald "Skipper" Kinney, 79, a yachtsman and a former senior vice president and director of Zenith Electronics Corp., died Friday, Oct. 13, 2000, in his Deerfield home after an illness. Mr. Kinney was born in Buffalo, N.Y., but spent much of his childhood aboard Mizpah, a 185-foot yacht docked in the Chicago River. The yacht was owned by his uncle, the late Eugene F. McDonald, a Navy intelligence lieutenant commander in World War I and Zenith's founder and former president. After Mr. Kinney's father died in the early 1930s, Mr. Kinney lived with McDonald.
Mr. Kinney attended Dartmouth College and served in the South Pacific as a naval officer World War II, attaining the rank of lieutenant. He served on a destroyer and participated in invasions of the Philippines and Okinawa. After serving in the Navy, Mr. Kinney began his four-decade career with Zenith in 1946, the year the UDD Mizpah was decommissioned and transferred to the United States War Shipping Administration (WSA) on 25 September 1946 for disposal. Mr. Kinney entered the sales division of Zenith in 1946. He worked up the ranks to become head of the hearing-aid division in 1957. He became senior vice president in 1972, retiring 10 years later. Mr. Kinney founded Argosy Yachts, a shipbuilding company in Ft. Lauderdale. For 27 years he participated in the annual race to Mackinac Island. He was a past president of the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1987, he was one of three men who co-founded the Heart of America syndicate, which competed in the America's Cup Challenge.

Mizpah Final years 
The WSA then sold her to a private corporation for transporting bananas out of South America until it suffered a broken crankshaft in 1967 and was laid up for repair at Tampa, Florida. At that time, Eugene Kinney, McDonald's nephew and Zenith Corporation vice president, learned of her plight and purchased her. But seeing Mizpah in such disrepair was disheartening, and Kinney scuttled her off the coast of Palm Beach, Florida, on 9 April 1968 along with the USS PC-1174, to serve as an artificial reef to prevent beach erosion and as a SCUBA diver's paradise.

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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)Naval Reserve Forces CommandCNO - OPNAV
  1917-1918, Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
  1918-1919, Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
  1925-1925, Naval Reserve Forces Command
  1925-1925, CNO - OPNAV
  1929-1942, CNO - OPNAV
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Private yacht - USS MIZPAH, YP-29
  Richard E. Byrd and the 1925 MacMillan Arctic Expedition1
  Dangerous Crossings: The First Modern Polar Expedition, 1925
  Eugene McDonald Kinney
  Aug 19, 2019, General Photos
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