“Life is short – break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile!”
Cecile “CeCe” McDaniel passed from this life on Thursday, November 19, 2020, in the comfort of her home in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. She was 93. CeCe was born on July 1, 1927, in Beaumont, Texas.
At 16, CeCe moved from Texas to Richmond, California with her parents, Sarah and Homer Gray, who had taken work in the Kaiser shipyards during WWII.
She married her first husband, Joseph Hodgkinson, in 1944 and settled in Northern California, where they raised their children: Muriel (Sandy), Alan, Alice, and Shirley (Zia). In 1970 CeCe married her second husband, Donald “Mac” McDaniel – “My knight in shining armor” – who would be her loving companion for the next 34 years, until his passing in 2004.
CeCe’s vibrant life was marked by many hardships, but also many joys. She was raised during the depression, and at an early age was separated from her siblings, who, for financial reasons, were raised in other households. The family was reunited in adulthood and were able to share many happy times together. Though CeCe experienced privation in her childhood, she retained a strong faith in the good in life, and took every opportunity to notice and appreciate simple pleasures such as spending time with friends and family, listening to music, caring for beloved pets, and the beauty of nature.
Always an artist at heart, she took up oil painting in her midlife, and produced many lovely canvases that featured trees, rolling hills, and dappled skies. In 1990 she and Mac retired, then spent over a year traveling around the U.S. with a travel trailer and a group of other retirees with whom they would caravan to scenic destinations throughout the United States. These were especially happy times.
In 1993 Mac and CeCe settled in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where CeCe immediately became an active member in the community. CeCe loved entertaining and was an excellent cook. The McDaniel house became a hub of activity where friends would gather in the morning for coffee, and in the evenings for board games, cards, hearty meals, and lively conversations. In addition to being a generous friend and host, CeCe had a strong desire to be of service in her community. She became a volunteer for the T-or-C Senior Center, and for many years she helped with the distribution and delivery of food commodities to those who were in need. As someone who experienced genuine and prolonged periods of hunger as a child, the distribution of food was especially meaningful work.
In 2005, she volunteered for a position with the Senior Companion program of the Sierra Joint Office On Aging. Though she was nearly 80 at the time, CeCe energetically embraced the opportunity to assist and offer friendship to other seniors – many of whom were actually younger than her. She visited shut-ins, ran errands, drove her clients to doctor appointments, and spent time just being present as a friend. In many ways, being a Senior Companion was a calling for CeCe. The combination of social engagement and service suited her perfectly, and though she reduced her number of companions as she entered her 90s, she remained a dedicated volunteer until the spring of 2020, and formed a particularly deep bond of friendship with 99-year-old Lucille Cacoperdo of T-or-C, whom she continued to visit until prevented by COVID-19 quarantine safety restrictions in the spring of this year.
CeCe had a philosophical side, and if she heard an aphorism that she felt expressed wisdom, she would write it down or otherwise commit it to memory. There are two aphorisms that she would often quote, and combined, they perfectly convey CeCe’s love of life, slightly rebellious nature, and affable sense of humor. The first is quoted at the top of this obituary; the second is, “Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the ground in the morning the Devil looks up and says, ‘Oh sh*t, she’s awake!”
CeCe is survived by her children, Alan Hodgkinson and Zia Isola; her stepdaughter, Jeannie McKenzie; and like-a-daughter Janice Brown, who was a loyal friend and caregiver until CeCe’s final days.
The indelible memory of CeCe’s kindness, strength, spunky wit, and loving generosity will shine in our hearts always, and we will do our best to honor her example as we carry her memory into the world in our thoughts, speech, and deeds.
A Celebration of Life will be held on July 1, 2021, which would have been CeCe's 94th birthday. Location and further details will be announced closer to the date.
In addition to her commitment to serving her community, CeCe loved animals and contributed throughout her lifetime to animal welfare organizations. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation of any size to the organizations that she loved: the Senior Center of Truth or Consequences, 360 W. 4th Ave., T-or-C, NM 87901, 575-894-6641; or the Sierra County Humane Society/Desert Haven Animal Refuge, HCR 31, Box 42, Williamsburg, NM 87942, 575-894-1694.
Arrangements were by Kirikos Family Funeral Home, Inc. and Sierra Crematory, LLC, 303 N. Cedar St., T. or C., NM 87901, 575-894-2574. For online memorial messages please visit www.kirikosfamilyfuneralhome.com.