Johnny Ray McDonald Jr., (Diddle), 58, of Hoboken passed away December 9 at Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus, N.J. He was the beloved husband of Deborah Sands McDonald and devoted father of Jonathan McDonald.
Born on March 30, 1963 in Jersey City N.J., John was raised in Hoboken where he attended the public school system and graduated from Hoboken High School. While in school, John developed a passion for sports that he maintained throughout his life and was a member of the 1980 Hoboken High School state championship basketball team. After graduating high school, John attended William Paterson University. John was an avid chess player and lifetime member of the NAACP.
Diddle’s greatest joy after his family was giving to others, especially kids. For much of his adult life as an employee of the Hoboken Recreation Department and when he left City Hall, John continued to coach and mentor children in hockey, basketball, softball and other sports. For a generation of kids, Diddle will forever be remembered as “Coach Diddle,” the person who patiently helped them push through their limits and achieve their goals and who made sure that all children regardless of their ability had a chance to participate and play.
His commitment to equal treatment for all children led John to found a girls’ traveling softball team, which he supported through fundraisers with an adult roller hockey league he also founded. The money he raised also helped sponsor children in other sports camps who needed assistance. John was also among the founders of the Church Square Men’s Basketball League, which operated for over 30 years.
Diddle was a presence in the lives of so many children. In many cases, kids that he coached grew up to become parents of children who joined teams coached by Diddle. His love for nurturing the youngest continued up till his passing. Pretty much any kid who wanted to join were welcome at “Camp Ray-Ray,” the informal gatherings John, Deborah and Jonathan hosted at their backyard pool. Camp Ray-Ray gave Diddle the chance to show off another passion, backyard grilling.
Everywhere John went, his warmth, good humor, generosity and love for people and life all touched those around him.
John is survived by his wife Deborah, son Jonathan, mother Elizabeth, and father Peter Falco, sisters Vanessa Falco (Sean Smith) and LaRaine DeBois, and brothers, Jason Falco (LaShuanda) and Robert “Juice” DeBois (Andrea).
He will be sadly missed by his mother-in-law Elizabeth Sands and her late husband Jack. Also surviving John are endeared nieces and nephews Sean, Jack, Kyle, Isabella and Lavender.
We’ll miss you Coach!
John will be waked at St. Francis R.C. Church in Hoboken Tuesday, December 14 beginning at 3 p.m. The celebration of his funeral mass will begin at 7 p.m. Parking is available adjacent to the church at 3rd and Jefferson streets.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to GoFundMe, and search for “Honoring Diddle.”