Cecile Marie Patricia Lampl Mooney was born in Yonkers, N.Y., on August 28, 1918, and died on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 24, at 98. She wanted to make it to 100. At her 98th birthday party, held on the porch of the Menemsha Galley, someone asked her how old she was; “100,” she replied. She was ready.
Her mother’s family was from Ireland and her father’s was from Austria. Her love of beauty and design was fostered by her mother, who sewed a fine seam and made all her daughter’s clothes. Ceil studied ballet and knew in her heart she could have been a prima ballerina. At 98, she could still do an arabesque and a plié. Her father could fix anything and always had a sweet dog by his side. He passed his love of dogs on to Ceil. Her apartment was a shrine to them, from porcelain dogs to art books detailing them though the ages.
When Ceil told stories of her youth, she included everything she was wearing at a particular event. She remembered every single dress, coat and pair of shoes. She married James J. Mooney. Shortly after the wedding, he left for World War II to serve as a naval officer. At the end of the war, Jimmy went to work for the government and the couple moved to Alexandria, Va. Ceil and Jimmy had four children. Later the family moved to the New York City area where Ceil studied interior design.
After her husband unexpectedly died, she moved from New Jersey back to Alexandria and put her skills as an interior decorator to good use. She decorated many lovely homes and medical offices in the northern Virginia area and taught design courses to adults. When she became an empty nester, she sold her house and took off for Key West to open a shoe store, Shoe Fly, on Duval street. She enjoyed the freedom of life in Key West but yearned for New York city. Five years later, she made another move, this time to her beloved Manhattan. She had exciting jobs at Barney’s and then Bergdorf Goodman as head of the bridal registry department. Each day she dressed to the nines and she was even photographed by Bill Cunningham. She had many friends in the fashion and design world there.
She moved to Martha’s Vineyard when she was 89. From her apartment at Havenside, she kept an eye on the comings and goings of the ferry and the local turkeys. She often walked to town to have a coffee at Waterside or visit the Stop and Shop for heavy cream or Haagen-Dazs ice cream. The hardest things about her advancing age was not being able to find a job or drive a car. She was a doer. First thing every morning, she put on her face, black pants, a shirt and scarf and her jewelry. A few days before her fall, Ceil was devising a scheme to order Keds slide-on sneakers from Amazon in every size and resell them from her apartment.
She is survived by her daughters, Sheila Muldaur of Chilmark, Deirdra Bonkemper of Maryland, and Maura Mooney of Arizona. She was predeceased by her son, Kevin. Her granddaughters Dardanella Slavin and Clare Manchon and step-granddaughter Jenni Muldaur all looked to her as a leader in style. Her grandsons in law, Sean Slavin and Olivier Manchon, made her feel loved and well cared for at family gatherings. Her great-grandsons Quinlan, Corrick, and Gustave were to her “the cutest boys in the world.” She was so fortunate to meet and hold her new great-granddaughter, Ernestine, and show her the ferry out the window leaving for yet another trip.