OBITUARY: Edward Celli, 76

Below is an obituary from Nichols Funeral Home:

WILMINGTON, MA — Edward Celli came into our world seventy-six years ago. He was raised in Billerica, MA, by his wonderful and dedicated parents Irene and Joe. Ed or Eddie, as he was also called, was close to his only sibling, Irene. Ed enjoyed his youth in this unique town and his close long-time friends that he had cultivated. During his high school years, Ed learned to play the accordion and played with his group at the New York World Fair. His favorite family trips were to Old Orchard Beach.

After graduating from high school, Ed joined the U.S. Navy. He enlisted for three years and served on active duty in Vietnam. During one of his tours, he was assigned to the river patrol boats. He was honorably discharged in September 1967. Ed was awarded several medals and the Navy Ribbon. He was always proud of his service to his country.

After Vietnam, Ed and Penny Coyne met, fell in love & married in 1972. In the early years of their marriage, Ed, Penny, and his mother-in-law, Rose, shared many wonderful years together. It was an unusual relationship. A lasting relationship. They shared many trips in the States and to Europe. As a family, Ed, Rose and Penny opened their hearts and shared their home on every holiday for their large extended family. Ed did most of the food shopping for these holidays. He insisted on buying a very large, fresh turkey which barely fit into the stove, stuffing and more important the ice cream cake. On September 9th of this year, they were married 50 years.

Another blessing that came to Ed were his two children, David, and Katie. Family was most important to him. Ed was very active in coaching and teaching CCD. As a family they travelled together to France with the Wilmington High Strings. Annual trips to Cape Cod were set in stone with the Youngs, the Vecch’s and the Celli’s. This annual tradition has been passed on to David, Katie, Michael, Jason, Mark, and Jeffrey. Eventually Ed’s family grew larger with his son-in-law Jeff and his daughter-in-law Jenn and becoming Papa to Harper, Reece, Madison, Jack Joseph and, of course, Porter.

Ed was truly a gentle soul. Throughout his life, he donated to many charities. He visited the soldiers at the VA. He started the Beyond TOPS program in Wilmington, MA, whose purpose is to integrate children with mental and physical disabilities into the community through sports. For many years, on Saturdays, he donated his time to participate and run this much needed program. As the program grew, more volunteers joined to continue the program and Ed became the designated “Ambassador.” TOPS continues today in Wilmington going on more than 20 years. He earned two prestigious awards: National TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year award in 2010 and the Good Guy of the Year in 2011.

Throughout his life, Ed held several positions in the industrial tool business. It was difficult to say “no” to Ed when he made those sales calls. He was persistent and well liked in the industry. He achieved top salesman of the year many times. The culmination of his career was at Industrial Tool Supply. Not only was Ed able to share much of his experience, but Ed and Penny were invited to many fun, challenging trips.

Ed was taken from us too soon. He was a man of great faith who will be sorely missed by his extended family and many lifelong friends. Ed was so proud – so proud of his wife & marriage, his children, his grandkids, his program, his career, and his relationships he made along the way. We know he is proud of the life he lived; he lived it right.

Family and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Thomas of Villanova Church, 126 Middlesex Ave., Wilmington on Friday, October 7th at 11:30 a.m. Please go directly to the church. Following the Mass, all are invited to the Elks Grove, 777 South St., Tewksbury to continue a casual, outdoor Celebration of Ed’s life.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Beyond TOPS Inc., 668 Main St., Suite 8, Box 306, Wilmington, MA 01887 or Venmo: @Beyond-TOPS.

Edward J. Celli

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