Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 243, page(s) 973-974


On January 15, 1998, Justice Herbert S. MacDonald died, ninety-one years after his birth on January 14, 1907. Justice MacDonald's longevity was rivaled only by the length of his legal career. A 1929 graduate of Yale College, Justice MacDonald received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1932. In 1939, he became a judge on the North Haven town court, where he continued to serve for eighteen years. On June 5, 1957, he was appointed to be a judge of the Superior Court and took office on September 1 of that year. He was named to the Supreme Court on April 13, 1972, and assumed the position of justice on April 29. His tenure on the Supreme Court continued until he reached the mandatory constitutional age of retirement on January 14, 1977. From that time forth, he continued to serve as an active state trial referee until June 30, 1990.

Justice MacDonald's devotion to the law extended beyond his service on the Bench. For eight years he was an officer of the Connecticut Bar Association. He was also a member of the state Senate, where, in the late 1940s he coauthored with John R. Thim, who also became a justice of the Supreme Court, the legislation establishing the state sales tax. The tax was originally 2 percent and was intended to be temporary.

Music was of particular interest to Justice MacDonald. He worked his way through Yale playing the banjo, and he served as president of the New Haven Symphony in the early 1950s. In 1983, in a New Haven Register article written in honor of his fifty years in the court system, he claimed "the distinction of probably being the oldest living member of the symphony board." Justice MacDonald's other activities included serving on the board of Connecticut Hospice, Inc., Mory's, the New Haven Colony Historical Society and the New Haven Preservation Trust.