In Memory of

Rosalie

Mary

McDonald

(Fonte)

Obituary for Rosalie Mary McDonald (Fonte)

Rosalie Mary McDonald, 86, of Cary, North Carolina passed away peacefully on April 11, 2022 at the Bryan Hospice Home of UNC Health Care. She was born September 26, 1935, in Reading, Pennsylvania, to Carmelo and Domenica (Carabello) Fonte. She was the youngest of nine children.

“Rosie,” as she was known, was a 1953 graduate of Reading High School. As a young woman, she served as a fashion model for several major retail stores in the Reading area. At 19, she won the 1954 Miss Reading Fair beauty contest. Instead of moving on to the Miss Pennsylvania competition, she took her winnings and spent it entirely on her parents’ happiness, buying them passage back to their homeland Sicily to visit family. La famiglia—the family—meant everything to Rosie. She loved her large family in America and her extended family in Marina di Caronia, Sicily where she traveled multiple times over her lifetime. Caronia was the place where she felt the greatest peace and joy.

On June 25, 1960, Rosie married Joseph Daniel McDonald at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Reading. They were married for 61 years. Together, they had four children. Their youngest child Margaret “Maggie” was born with special needs. Rosie, who cared for Maggie over 47 years, along with her husband, was a passionate supporter and advocate for people born with differing abilities. Rosie was a featured speaker at Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida on numerous occasions, discussing the important role of parents with special needs children.

Rosie’s benevolent and nurturing nature led her to earn her nursing degree from Alvernia University in 1985 at the age of 45, a phenomenal courageous accomplishment. As a registered nurse, she worked in hospital settings in both Pennsylvania and Florida. She later focused her energy on private duty hospice cases where she practiced her own special brand of decency and kindness. In one example of many, Rosie cared for a patient in her 80s living with Parkinson’s disease. The woman was unable to get around by herself and communicate clearly. After administering her standard nursing care duties, Rosie would do other little things to elevate the human spirit like paint the woman’s fingernails or play her favorite music. The patient, who had been quite the dancer before Parkinson’s stole her ability to move, loved jitterbug. In an act of great compassion, Rosie gently lifted her patient into her steady arms, and the two danced together, slowly swirling. Smiling. In life and death, nurses like Rosie are unflinching, heroic and merciful.

Rosie is survived by her devoted husband Joseph. Two daughters, Kathleen McDonald Travitz (Timothy) and Margaret Theresa McDonald of Cary, NC were by her side—along with Joe--through life’s blessed joys and inevitable heartbreaking hardships until the end of her days.

Also surviving are seven grandchildren, brothers Anthony and Natel Fonte and sister Mary Fiorillo as well as brother-in-law Myles T. McDonald and multiple nephews and nieces, including the two closest to her heart, Phyllis Bohn and Tina Kauflie. Brothers, Leonard, James and Peter Fonte and sisters Marie Zelano and Josephine Perrotto predeceased her.

Rosie was buried on Monday, April 18, 2022 at Gethsemane Cemetery in Reading. Kuhn Funeral Home managed the arrangements. As Rosie wished, the beautiful song “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” filled Gethsemane’s chapel with serenity. Rosie promised she would return again, as a vibrant fluttering butterfly unencumbered by the dementia and heart disease that plagued her later years. Mama Mia, Rosalia. Butterflies like us, be free!