Ian C. McDonald, a T. Rowe Price analyst and former Wall Street Journal reporter, dies

Ian C. McDonald, a T. Rowe Price equity research analyst who earlier had been a financial reporter for The Wall Street Journal, died May 16 of colon cancer at Gilchrist Center Howard County. The Mount Washington resident was 47.

“Ian was a very interesting candidate for us because he was a journalist by training,” said Eric L. Veiel, co-head of Global Equity at T. Rowe Price. “And because he was an investigative journalist, he would dig into companies he was researching and had good contacts, which allowed us to make good investments for our stockholders.”

Ian Christopher McDonald, the son of James McDonald, a computer programmer, and Diane McDonald, a schoolteacher, was born in Weymouth, Mass.

He was raised in Brewster, Mass., by his mother and her spouse and his co-parent, Joan Vergnani, a schoolteacher and innkeeper, and was a graduate of Nauset Regional High School in Eastham, Mass.

Mr. McDonald’s entry into journalism began when he was a 15-year-old high school intern at the Cape Cod Times.

“[The editors] accidentally sent him out on an assignment and then hired him after they were impressed with his story,” said his wife of 13 years, Molly Saint-James, a web content specialist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, who first met her future husband when he was a reporter and columnist for TheStreet.com and she was a copy editor.

Mr. McDonald enrolled at Bates College and studied abroad at Trinity College Dublin. While there, he and a friend wrote an article for the Irish Independent about prostitutes.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in English in 1994 from Bates, Mr. McDonald went to work in mutual funds for the John Hancock Insurance Co. in Boston.

From 1998 until 2001, when he joined the staff of the Journal, Mr. McDonald had been a senior reporter and columnist for TheStreet.com.

He was a staff reporter in both New York City and London, and from 2001 to 2007, was the top reporter in the Journal’s Money & Investing section.

“Known for his dogged reporting and easy manner with colleagues, Ian covered asset management, insurance and was a writer for the Heard on the Street column,” according to an internal Journal statement announcing Mr. McDonald’s death.

Theo Francis, who is now a corporate news reporter for the Journal in Washington, had worked closely with Mr. McDonald in New York City.

“It was in the mid-2000s and I was covering the insurance beat. It was a pretty intense time because then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was investigating several insurance companies,” Mr. Francis said. “Ian was pulled in to help out and very quickly became part of the team.”

Mr. Francis described him as “an incredibly diligent reporter but careful at the same time. He’d get a tip and worked hard to break the story.”

“He was everything you wanted in a reporter. Despite the incredible pressure, he stayed cool and good-natured,” he said. “If he couldn’t pin a story down, he’d keep going until he got it. His job was getting the story and telling it quickly and reliably.”

Said his wife: “When he worked at the WSJ, his claim to fame was having two front-page stories on the same day. They gave him the printing plate for it, which we framed and hangs in the office at home.”

In 2007, Mr. McDonald and a co-reporter, Alistair MacDonald, wrote a humorous piece for the Journal, known as an A-hed, about “the hero of Glasgow,” a Glasgow Airport baggage handler, John Smeaton, who kicked a would-be terrorist who was attacking a police officer, and became a celebrity.

“Mr. Smeaton voiced a defiance that has turned him into a de facto spokesman for Glasgow’s fighting spirit. His message to the terrorist: ‘You come to Glasgow, we don’t stand for it,’ he says. ‘We’ll just set aboot ye.’ (Translation: ‘In Glasgow, we’ll just deck you’),” the reporters wrote.

In 2007, Mr. McDonald joined T. Rowe Price as an equity research analyst and among his area of coverage had responsibility for following a variety of financial companies, including U.S. securities exchanges, rating agencies and credit bureaus.

“Through his intellect, stock picking skill and good humor, Ian became an admired colleague and a respected buyside analyst among the executives whose companies he covered,” Brian Lewbart, head of corporate public relations and communications at T. Rowe Price and a Severna Park resident, wrote in an email.

“Ian brought a certain level of vigor to his digging and other analysts learned from him,” Mr. Veiel said.

Mr. Veiel added that Mr. McDonald was the epitome of calmness when “things sometimes got bad.”

“If you needed a break during those times, you went to Ian’s office and he’d tell you a good story and kept everything in perspective,” he said. “He had a genius mind and was a great comedian, too.”

Mr. McDonald continued working until the end of his life, and because of his medical treatments, his last assignment, which began in January, was serving as a mentor and coach to the firm’s investment analysts and associate analysts.

“He had a huge impact on his 10 to 12 mentees,” Mr. Veiel said.

A resident of South Road in Mount Washington, Mr. McDonald was a heavily involved volunteer at The Mount Washington School, where his two daughters had been students.

He was vice president of the PTO for a year and an at-large member for another year after that. He served as a reading assistant, and purchased and helped install air conditioners.

“Ian outfitted one of the buildings with air conditioning units a few years ago when he found out Baltimore City couldn’t do it because it was a leased building,” his wife wrote in an email.

Mr. McDonald enjoyed watching classic films and attending tennis matches with his daughters.

A memorial gathering will be held at 3 p.m. June 22 at Stony Run Friends Meeting, 5116 N. Charles, St., Baltimore.

Mr. McDonald’s T. Rowe Price colleagues have set up a scholarship, the Ian C. McDonald Financial Aid Fund, at Bates College.

In addition to his wife, his mother and co-parent, of South Dennis, Mass., Mr. McDonald is survived by his two daughters, Ellie, 11, a Friends School student, and Poppy, 8, who attends The Mount Washington School.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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