GARDINER -- Bill MacDonald passed away peacefully at his home on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. He was born in Gardiner on May 12, 1924, the son of Frederick MacDonald and Ellen (Murphy) MacDonald.
Bill married his wife, Christine Louise Stevens, on Aug. 1, 1952, and together they raised a family of eight children. As a lifelong resident of Gardiner, Bill was a communicant of St. Joseph's Church and a graduate of Gardiner Area High School. His mind was bright and sharp to the last, and he often shared memories and history of 20th-century life in Gardiner, the community he loved for 88 years. Spending time with his children, welcoming each new grandchild into the family, and celebrating family and holiday gatherings were his greatest joys. Bill was well liked by many, and it was not uncommon for people to stop and chat with him while he was raking the leaves, mowing the lawn or shoveling snow.
Bill was a humble man who never sought credit for his noteworthy accomplishments. His service to the city of Gardiner began in 1954 where he soon assumed the leadership position of commissioner of Public Safety, a role in which he fulfilled the dual responsibility of chief of police and chief of the fire department. He was instrumental in establishing the first Gardiner Rescue Unit as well as supporting many employees in achieving excellence. He served as president of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association and the New England Chiefs of Police Association. During his tenure Bill was asked on several occasions to fill in as acting city manager. His more than 30 years of public service to the city of Gardiner culminated in three consecutive mayoral terms. While mayor he was a key player in the downtown revitalization and waterfront projects. In retirement, he also worked for Kennebec Valley Medical Center driving the shuttle van between Gardiner and Augusta.
During his years of leisure Bill continued to maintain an active and often vocal interest in the city of Gardiner. He would regularly stop in to check on the police and fire departments to reminisce and offer words of encouragement. At the age of 74, he purchased his first computer and began cataloging the deceased in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Gardiner as well as a family genealogy project that continued to the very day he died.
Bill was predeceased by his mother, Ellen; and his father, Frederick MacDonald; his brothers, Frederick "Buster" MacDonald and John "Jack" MacDonald; and sisters Harriet Mertzel and Lucille McNally. Bill is survived by his loving wife and dance partner of 60 years, Christine. He leaves behind eight devoted children: Barbara Ann MacDonald, Pamela Dorner and her husband, Mike, Margaret "Peggy" Setta and her husband, David, Brenda DeLisle and her husband, Chris, Michael MacDonald and his wife, Connie, Judith MacDonald, Jacqueline Rogers and her husband, Dick, and Janette Cook and her husband, Scott.
Bill had 14 grandchildren who adored him: Lisa Knedler, Rebecca Dill, Grace Dorner, Melissa Potter, Heather Daigle, Amber Kruk, Michael Aaron MacDonald, Christopher Rogers, Andrea Steiner, Shawn MacDonald, Kenneth Jackson, Bryleigh Cook, Ian DeLisle and Thomas Cook. Bill was blessed with seven great-grandchildren who idolized him: Blake Knedler, Eben Knedler, Cody Murphy, Ella Kruk, Kennedy Daigle, Andrew Rogers and Owen Jackson (and three soon-to-be born great-grandchildren). Additionally, he leaves behind many nieces and nephews who affectionately called him "Uncle Billy." The family would like to thank Dr. John van Summern for his many years of compassionate care.
For those wishing to pay their respects, visiting hours will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, April 15 at Staples Funeral Home, 53 Brunswick Ave., Gardiner. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on April 16 at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 110 School St., in Gardiner, Maine. A gathering will be held immediately following the service in St. Joseph's reception hall. In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to the Gardiner Police Association, the Gardiner Professional Firefighters Association, both located at 6 Church St., Gardiner, ME 04345; the Gardiner Public Library Community Archives Room, 152 Water St., Gardiner, ME 04345; or a
Burial and graveside services will be held later this spring.