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Dora McDonald; was key aide to Martin Luther King

ATLANTA -- Dora McDonald, secretary for Martin Luther King Jr., died just days before the national holiday that honors her former boss. She was 81.

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

King entrusted his family to Miss McDonald's care when he was in jail or traveling. It was Miss McDonald who told Coretta Scott King that her husband had been assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis.

Miss McDonald started working for the civil rights leader in 1960 and quickly became his confidante and adviser.

In a 1989 interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Miss 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.

Miss McDonald never married and she has no immediate survivors.