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Gloria Aurora Colucciello McDonald

August 23, 1932 - February 2, 2020

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Gloria Aurora Colucciello”Honey” McDonald, 87, of Scottsdale, AZ, died February 2, 2020 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Her victory over Parkinson’s is complete. She battled 20 years against this unyielding scourge and never wavered or relented on her fierce will to live fully and independently.

Until August 2018, Gloria lived for 57 years in the Lynchburg, Va., area, where she taught for more than 40 years at Perrymont and Bedford Hills elementary schools. Throughout those years, she was a faithful and dedicated member of Holy Cross Catholic Church, volunteering much of her time there, and sending her sons to Holy Cross School. The many friendships she formed with teachers at Bedford Hills and with people from Holy Cross anchored her through the last half of her rich life. She also spent many years as a legal assistant to her close friend, William Rosenberger, Jr., a prominent Lynchburg attorney.

Gloria was a first generation Italian-American, born on August 23,1932 and raised in Rotterdam, NY, a town in Schenectady County, with three brothers and four sisters. Known as “Honey” by her family (a lifelong nickname bestowed by a neighbor friend of her mother), she was introspective and as a young girl spent as much time as she could reading books of every kind, a gift she passed on to her two sons and many of her students. She and her siblings — the three oldest born in Italy and the other four in the United States — helped daily in the family’s garden and chicken coop. (They grew much of their food and raised chickens for eggs to be sold for extra money and occasionally treated themselves to a chicken for Sunday dinner.) Her father grew grapes for winemaking and cultivated fig trees, which in the cold upstate New York climate had to be buried each winter to survive. Honey pitched in with her parents and siblings to make sure all the work got done.

“Honey”  graduated from Draper High School in Rotterdam and the College of St. Rose in Albany, where she also earned a Master’s degree in Education. Her first teaching assignment was at Draper Elementary, where she encountered the first of the thousands of children she inspired throughout her teaching career.

The self-sufficiency and determination she learned as a girl stayed with her throughout her life and enabled her to persevere through many challenges, helping others along the way at times of great need. Because of a rare Rh negative factor in her blood, eight of her 10 children died at birth or shortly before. (Partly because of research performed during her later pregnancies, a treatment was developed in 1965 that prevented the formation in the mother of the antibodies that prove fatal to Rh positive babies.) After unexpectedly finding herself as a single mother, Gloria put her sons through college and through the years helped other women in similar family situations. Over the past two decades, she bravely faced the challenges of Parkinson’s with grit and grace. Through it all, she never lost her sharp sense of humor or deep caring for others, especially her family.

Gloria is survived by her sons, James E. McDonald Jr (Carole) of Phoenix, AZ, and David Michael McDonald (Kristen) of Weston, CT. She also is survived by six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. She learned the value of education from her father and passed it onto her sons and their families.

She also is survived by brothers Michael Colucciello Jr, Dr. Ray Colucciello and sister Eleanor Bradley, all in the Schenectady area, and many nieces and nephews.

Gloria is predeceased by her parents, Michael Colucciello and Maria DeSimone Colucciello, sisters, Nicolina Barber, Bianca Maderic, and Marie Colucciello and brother, Captain Luigi Colucciello.

A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 710 Clay Street, Lynchburg on Saturday, February 22, 2020 with the Rev. Msgr. J. Kenneth Rush officiating with a reception following the service. Interment to follow at Holy Cross Catholic Church Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made in Gloria’s name to Holy Cross Catholic Church.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.

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