Loved golf, going on cruises and afternoon naps on the patio

NORTH READING — Cecilia Ann “Cele” MacDonald (nee Berger) of North Reading, and formerly of Trumbull, Conn., passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by family on February 17, 2023. She was in her 85th year.

Born May 22, 1938, in Bridgeport, Conn., Cele was the daughter of Frederick Berger and Mary McGovern Berger, though her father sadly didn’t live to see her birth. She and her mother joined the bustling home at 865 Clinton Avenue, headed by her Aunt Jean and Uncle Tom Mulligan. She lived in the extended family home through her teen years until her mother later married the beloved Cliff Meaney.

Cele was a “proud daughter of Bridgeport” who graduated from Lauralton Hall Academy (Milford, Conn.) and Dunbarton College (Washington, D.C.), and earned a master’s degree in education from Fairfield University. She married Jack MacDonald in 1963 and the couple settled in Trumbull, where they raised their three children. Cele combined family with a rewarding work career that included elementary school teaching, positions at Trumbull Town Hall, United Health Care, and Collins IV Care, while also volunteering as a Girl Scout leader and at her children’s schools. She and Jack were members of Newtown Country Club.

While many of their contemporaries headed south upon retirement, Cele and Jack chose North Reading to be closer to family. Cele and Jack combined households with their daughter Mary Ann and son-in-law John, becoming fully integrated into a lively family again. It’s also where they grew their circle of friends while attending school musicals, their grandchildren’s sporting events, and dance recitals. Cele volunteered at North Reading’s Little School Library.

Cele’s interests included watching and playing golf, although she never got her coveted hole-in-one. She also loved cruises and family vacations, especially annual trips to Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vt.; afternoon naps in the sun on her patio with a good book and glass of chardonnay in hand; doting over the family dog, Mulligan; and cooking Oscar Mayer bacon on Saturday mornings. Later in life, she became a big ACC college sports fan, splitting her allegiances between Wake Forest, Clemson, and Syracuse, and fulfilled several “bucket list” items, among them dog sledding in Alaska; enjoying musicals in London; swimming with dolphins in Bermuda; white-water rafting; and attending The Masters Golf Tournament.

She is predeceased by her husband of 53 years, who passed away in 2016, and by her brother, Freddie Berger. She is survived by her daughter Kathleen and wife, Suzanne Abair, of Lexington, Mass.; her daughter Mary Ann and husband, John Veneziano, of North Reading; and her son, Stephen, and wife, Ashlie, of Raleigh, N.C. She was a loving and generous “Grammy” to Maddie, Ryan, Alex, Jacob, Jack, and Anna. She is also survived by her cousins, Jimmy Mulligan of Barre, Vt., and Tommy Mulligan of Bridgeport, Conn., who were like brothers to her; and countless friends she considered family.

All are invited to celebrate Cele’s life on Sunday, February 26, from 3 – 6 p.m. at the Cota Funeral Home (335 Park Street, North Reading), and a funeral Mass will take place on Monday, February 27 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Theresa Catholic Church (63 Winter Street, North Reading).

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Sharing Foundation (P.O. Box 600, Concord, MA 01742 or