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Dora McDonald, 81; Martin Luther King's secretary, advisor

January 15, 2007|From the Associated Press

ATLANTA — Dora McDonald, secretary for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who informed Coretta Scott King that her husband had been assassinated, has died. She was 81.

McDonald died Saturday of complications from cancer at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, hospital spokesman Lance Skelly said Sunday.

Her death came just two days before the national holiday that honors her former boss, who was killed April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

McDonald started working for the civil rights leader in 1960 and quickly became his confidant and advisor.

In a 1989 interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, McDonald described her role as King's secretary at Ebenezer Baptist Church and later at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as "a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week job."

"But there was never a time -- and I can say this in all truthfulness, from the time I went to work for him until his death -- that I regretted what I was doing or where I was at that moment," she said.

McDonald was born July 16, 1925, in Greeleyville, S.C. After graduating from high school in Sumter, S.C., McDonald enrolled at South Carolina State College.

According to an obituary Sunday in the Journal-Constitution, she worked as a secretary for Benjamin E. Mays, president of Morehouse College, in the 1940s and 1950s. She was working at a savings and loan firm in Atlanta when King offered her a job as his secretary.

On the day that King was shot, McDonald met Coretta Scott King at the Atlanta airport and informed her of the tragedy.

After King's death, McDonald worked as an administrative assistant to Andrew Young, who was then a member of Congress from Georgia. When Young went to the United Nations as U.S. ambassador, McDonald stayed in Atlanta and worked for IBM until she retired.

McDonald never married or had children and has no immediate survivors.

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