Cover photo for Robert 'Bob' James  Macdonnell's Obituary
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Robert 'Bob' James Macdonnell

April 12, 1935 — December 31, 2021

Robert 'Bob' James Macdonnell

Robert (Bob) James MacDonnell

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Robert (Bob) James MacDonnell, 86, on Dec 31, 2021, at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, with his wife and family by his side.

Bob was born and raised in Deepdale, Inverness County by his parents, Peter and Florence MacDonnell. As the eldest of seven brothers and sisters, Bob left formal school at a young age to care and provide for his family while his father was unable to work. In later years, Bob worked as a meat cutter and a supervisor for Sobeys. Bob also worked as a miner in New Waterford, Phalen Local 2501, for 16 years. Though the hours were long and the job strenuous, he always said he loved working in the pit because of the friendships he made during his time there.

Bob was passionate for Cape Breton music, spending much of his free time playing, listening, and dancing to Celtic tunes. Growing up in a very musical household in Deepdale, many of his formative years were spent hosting ceilidhs and musical gatherings at the family home. Many tell stories of cars lining both sides of the road at his parents’ house before and after the Broadcove Concert. Bob often fell asleep as a child to the music of Buddy MacMaster or watching Winston Fitzgerald play from the stairs in the early hours of the morning. Bob played the bagpipes and the fiddle, was part of a pipe band, and was a talented step dancer. His fiddle playing was marked by an unmistakable Gaelic swing, which came natural given that Gaelic was his first language, only learning English in school. In addition to his passion for the Celtic culture, he thoroughly enjoyed attending and watching horse racing.

Some of Bob’s most joyous times over the last few years was listening to Bhreagh and Ian play his favourite tunes, Daryl playing tunes, Peter and Bob exchanging old time stories and listening to Bruce Campbell sing his favourite songs.

There are so many people to thank for the care and compassion Bob received over the last few months, specifically, home care services and all the medical personnel that Bob encountered at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, specifically, the staff in ER, 4B and 4E. Thank you for your care and kindness.

Bob was married to the love of his life and best friend, Harriett Phillips, for sixty years. He was a devoted husband and father to his four children, Corrine (McIsaac), Peter (Mary Ingraham), Daryl (Louise Desrochers), and Colin (Anita Heinekamp). Bob had a special place in his heart for his grandchildren, acting as a primary caregiver for many of them during their school years, including Bhreagh (Ian MacDougall), Stephen, and Graham McIsaac, Justin (Krystal Burke) & Fabien MacDonnell, and Maria and Megan MacDonnell. Bob was also blessed with one very special greatgrandchild, Reese MacDonnell.

Bob was brother to Christine (late John Mullins), Cornerbrook, NL; Julia (late Frank Leahy), Lakefield, ON; Ann (RJ MacDougall), Waltham, Mass; Mary (Marwood Payne), Warsaw, ON; and Neil, North Bay, ON, and was an uncle to many beloved nieces and nephews. Bob was predeceased by his parents, Peter and Florence Isabel MacDonnell (MacIsaac), brother Father Angus Alex MacDonnell, sister Marcella (her husband late Colin Cameron), and half-brother John H. Gehrke.

To everyone, Bob was known for his unconditional kindness, generosity, and compassion. He was an incredibly gentle person, always wanting to help others. He was devoted to the Catholic church and a longstanding member of the Parish of St. Leonard, practicing daily the Catholic teachings of generosity, kindness, and patience.

Donations can be made in his name to the St. Vincent de Paul Foodbank in New Waterford. A private family service will be held at a later date.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of McLellan Brothers Funeral Home, 3183 Plummer Ave, New Waterford, 902-862-7500.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert 'Bob' James Macdonnell, please visit our flower store.


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