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Steven Allen McDonnell

September 19, 1950 ~ September 1, 2018 (age 67)
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Steven (Steve) Allen McDonnell formerly of Portland Oregon, was born September 19, 1950 in Roseburg, Oregon the son of Robert and Mildred (Peeler) McDonnell. He passed away in Hermiston, Oregon on September 1, 2018 at the age of 67.

As a young child, Steve moved and grew up in SE Portland.  He attended, Benson Polytechnic High School.  Although he graduated in 1968, he missed his graduation as he had already reported to boot camp at Camp Pendleton. At the Age of 17 he joined the US Marine Corps where he served for four years. He was stationed in Da Nang, Vietnam and was active during the Vietnam War. After his honorable discharge, he marched on Washington with other veterans protesting the Vietnam War and the treatment of our returning veterans.   He attended the Museum Art School in Portland where he received his Bachelor’s degree in fine arts.  Steve appreciated all forms of art, as his skills and talents grew he found that the medium he enjoyed the most was wood and stone. Many pieces he worked on can still be found in Portland along the transit mall on 5th Ave., and as part of the permanent collection of the Portland Art Museum.

At a young age Steve fell in love with anything outdoors.  Often going fishing and spending time with his dad on the Columbia River.  Along with his lifelong friend Robert (Bob) Cousins, he joined the Sea Scouts around the age of 13.  Steve and Bob along with Steve’s father were very active in their participation and support of the Sea Scouts, including the annual Christmas Tree sale and the Portland Boat Parade of Lights on the Columbia River.  This is a time of Steve’s life that he would often speak of fondly and when he found his passion for sailing.      

Steve was an avid camper, fisherman and outdoorsman and enjoyed sharing his passion with his children, nephews, and niece.   He also enjoyed woodworking; traveling; scuba diving; he enjoyed cooking and eating a variety of different foods (he was well known for the mess he could make in a kitchen); he studied martial arts and had a constant desire to learn new things; he enjoyed the company of others as well as a good discussion; avid reader; his children remember him as a great roller skater and have fond memories of Oaks Park Skating Rink.


Steve struggled with depression and PTSD for much of his life related to his service in Vietnam.  Often speaking of his challenges and allowing others to know that they are not alone in their struggles, he was a pioneer in reducing stigma around and veteran’s accessing mental health services.  He was an active member in Vietnam Veteran support groups helping and supporting others also seeking support from their service or return from service.  This is where Steve met many great friends that were standing and supporting him even in the end.  He was a member of Veterans for Peace, as well as an advocate often speaking out to improve the care and resources available to fellow veterans. 

Steven married Sandra Mershon in 1976, from this union a daughter, Catherine (Catie) and a son Patrick were born.   Being the craftsman that he was, Steve and Sandra Built the home in which his children were raised in Corbett, Oregon. The couple later divorced.


He married Leslie Pubols in Portland, Oregon in 1991.  The two of them spent many years together living on their sailboat Balderdash.  When sailing with his children he would tow a large inflatable duck behind his boat just in case one of his children went overboard. Which they would often do on purpose in the summer just to ride the duck.  Steve and Leslie relocated to Cozumel Mexico for several years.  Steve eventually bought and built a small house there.  Later he returned to Oregon and spent much time at the Oregon Coast helping to care for his dad in his last years.  He would often talk of the many fishing trips he and his dad were able to take during this time.


In 2011 Steve was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  Having suffered much of his life with service related illnesses from constant exposure to Agent Orange.  He made the most of this time spending it with family and friends knowing that he would not be able to fully recover.  He passed within the presence Friends and Family.  Steve will be remembered for his sense of humor, having never met a stranger  and his zest for life.

He is survived by his wife; Leslie; daughter, Catie (Gil Torres) Brenaman; son, Patrick (Mary Jane) Brenaman; sister, Marcia Scott; nephews, Justice McDonnell and Sam Mershon; Niece, Danielle Casey; three grandchildren, Gilbert, Grace and Hannah.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Julie.

A Graveside service will be at 9:00 A.M. on Friday September 21, 2018 at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.  With reception to follow.


In lieu of flowers the family asks that you make a donation to the Sea Scouts, Cascade Pacific Council or your local VFW in Steve’s name.

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