Christine Louise (Stevens) MacDonald

GARDINER – In the early hours of Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, Christine Louise (Stevens) MacDonald laced her dancing shoes for her eternal waltz. She joins her loving husband and dance partner of more than 60 years, William “Bill” MacDonald who, as he did in life, has been patiently waiting to take his sweetheart’s hand. Christine was 91 and passed due to complications of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Born in Calais, Maine in 1928, Christine spent her early years in Farmington and later Winthrop where she first attended Quaker Meeting House at Winthrop Center Friends – a place that she felt throughout her lifetime had been her spiritual home. She moved with her family to Gardiner in the early 1940s and attended Gardiner High School where she was a cheerleader and captain of the girls’ basketball team. She earned her diploma in 1946. A gifted artist, Christine was offered a scholarship to Boston School of Art, but introversion kept her from pursuing advanced studies.

Upon graduation, Christine became a switchboard operator at the Gardiner branch of New England Tel & Tel Co., a fortuitous opportunity made possible due to wartime worker shortages that eased restrictions on hiring left-handed applicants. She quickly became a supervisor and went on to be a switchboard operator at Augusta General Hospital which was later known as Kennebec Valley Medical Center. Christine once again worked her way up to become supervisor and led the hospital’s conversion to computerized telephone systems in the early 1990s before retiring in 1993.

In her early 20s, Christine met and fell in love with Bill MacDonald. Their first date was at a dance and it wasn’t long before they were clearing the dance floor. After a brief courtship, Christine married Bill in 1952 and soon welcomed the first of eight children. She spent the 50s, 60s, and 70s raising her brood as part of the last generation in which large families were commonplace. With an abiding “the more the merrier” spirit, she mothered neighborhood children too as they all loved to spend time with the MacDonalds.

Christine converted to Catholicism and worshipped throughout her marriage at Saint Joseph’s Parish in Gardiner. She took special pleasure in dressing her children in their Sunday finest and walking with them, hand in hand, to mass. Once her children were grown, she continued that same walk each Sunday with Bill until his passing in 2013.

Christine took great pride in being “the chief’s wife” and later “the mayor’s wife” as her husband’s career spanned a 25-year tenure as Gardiner’s Commissioner of Public Safety followed by three terms as the city’s mayor. She greatly enjoyed accompanying Bill on many trips to local, regional, and national chiefs of police association conventions.

Christine was a devoted grandmother of fourteen, welcoming granddaughters and grandsons with an open door – and open refrigerator – policy. Many times, she took a grandchild under her wing when they needed extra support and attention. She had a knack for knowing what each needed from her at various stages of their growing years and welcomed her grandchildren’s friends as she had her children’s friends. She lived to see each grandchild surpass the age of 30 and many start families of their own – giving her a whole new generation to delight in.

Christine and Bill enjoyed 20 years of retirement together during which they traveled to visit family, spent long weekends in their favorite beach town – Ogunquit, took leaf peeping day trips each fall, ventured to coastal towns for impromptu summer lunch dates, and lounged on their sunporch on sunny summer afternoons – she with book in hand.

Christine was a skilled seamstress, an avid gardener, a voracious reader, late-in-life quilter, an intuitive, a world-class bargain hunter, a sun-worshiping beachgoer, and a consummate hostess from spur-of-the-moment get togethers, to countless birthday parties, and epic annual Christmas Eve gatherings.

She never met an underdog she wouldn’t root for, a yard of fabric she didn’t covet, a visitor she wouldn’t feed, a baby with whom she wouldn’t play “creepy mouse,” a situation for which she didn’t have the perfect saying, a fashion that she didn’t wear well, a seed she wouldn’t sow, a Christmas list that didn’t call for one more gift, a lobster roll she didn’t relish, or a hot cup of black coffee that didn’t make her day.

Though her memory failed her in her final years, she retained her humor, elegance, and a bit of her signature sass. She lived out her final years at Hillside Terrace in Hallowell and her final weeks at MaineGeneral Rehabilitation & Long-Term Care at Gray Birch. Christine’s family is most grateful for the loving care and dignity offered by the staff at these residences.

Christine was predeceased by her husband William Francis MacDonald; mother Ella (Merrow) and father, Ralph Waldo Stevens; her sisters Dorthea “Dot” Gilman and Barbara Andrews; her brothers, Ralph Amasa Stevens and Ralph Waldo Stevens, Jr.; lifelong friend Leah Gould, and her great grandson Jackson Potter.

She is survived by, her children, Barbara MacDonald of Litchfield, Pamela (MacDonald) Dorner and her husband Michael of Binghamton, N.Y., Margaret (MacDonald) Setta and her husband David of Lake Wylie, S.C., Brenda (MacDonald) DeLisle and her husband Christopher of Hollis, Michael W. MacDonald and his wife Connie of Bow, N.H.; Judith MacDonald of Gardiner, twin daughters, Jacqueline (MacDonald) Rogers and her husband Dick and Janette (MacDonald) Cook and husband Scott; her grandchildren, Lisa Knedler and her husband Tim, Rebecca Dill, Grace Dorner, Melissa Potter and her husband Tim, Heather Daigle and her husband Ben, Amber Kruk and her husband Matt, Michael A. MacDonald, Christopher Rogers and his wife Molly, Andrea Steiner and her husband Eric, Shawn MacDonald and his wife Samantha, Kenneth Jackson, Bryleigh Shaw and her husband Alex, Ian DeLisle and his wife Kara, and Thomas Cook; her great-grandchildren, Blake and Eben Knedler, Ella and Madeline Kruk, Cody Murphy and Danielle MacDonald, Andrew and Addison Rogers, Kennedy and Mason Daigle, Cora Steiner, Owen Jackson, and Emmalee Potter; many generations of nieces and nephews; and, Richard Dana from the old neighborhood who has been like family since the early 1960s.

Private visiting hours for immediate and extended family will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., on Thursday, Feb. 20, at Staples Funeral Home, 53 Brunswick Avenue in Gardiner. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m., on Friday, Feb. 21, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 110 School Street in Gardiner. A gathering will be held immediately following the service; details will be shared upon conclusion of the Mass. Burial and graveside services will be held “Come Spring” – in honor of her favorite book.

Arrangements are in the care of Staples Funeral Home and Cremation Care, 53 Brunswick Avenue, Gardiner. Condolences, memories and photos may be shared with the family on the obituary page of the Staples Funeral Home website: familyfirstfuneralhomes.com