Celii photo

John J. Celii, Jr.

September 19, 1942 - December 20, 2018 West Chester, PA | Age 76 A Man Who Loved His Family

John J. Celii Jr., of West Chester PA, passed away on December 20, 2018, from complications of surgery. He was surrounded by his wife and loving family.

John was born in West Chester, PA in 1942, to his parents, John Celii, Sr. & Mary Sarmento Celii. He grew up in Downingtown, PA where he met his high school sweet heart, and life partner of 56 years.

He graduated from Bishop Shanahan Catholic High School, class of 1961. He went on to attend St. Josephs University where he received a BS in Accounting and Finance.  This was only the beginning of a lifetime filled with hard work, discipline, sacrifice, and ultimately enormous success in many areas.  But his greatest success was the love he had for his wife, 2 daughters, 1 granddaughter, and his golden retriever and best friend, Shane.

John’s career was as full as his life, where he held many different titles in his 40 year career. He started at Hewlett Packard in both Finance and Management.  He went on to become VP of Finance and CFO at 3COM Corporation.  He then headed up Mergers and Acquisitions at Convergent Technologies, and served as President of Convergent Dealership Systems.  He retired early at the age of 48, and spent the next three years with family and friends in Chester County.  But the corporate world would once again call on him, and he was recruited by a start up company, Grand Junction Networks, as CFO. Grand Junction Networks was acquired by Cisco Systems, and John was head of Cisco’s East Coast merger and acquisition team.  John retired from the corporate world a second and final time in 1998. He was a tough negotiator, firm but fair, always serious about the task at hand, but could crack a joke and a smile and lighten the room. He was well respected and admired among his colleagues and friends.

He served on the Bishop Shanahan Advisory Board and The Chester County Community Foundations Board of Directors.

John believed in sharing his good fortune and was passionate about donating to causes that were near and dear to his heart. He and wife Pat, along with the help of the Chester County Community Foundation, started the John and Patricia Celii Family Foundation.  Thru this foundation, he was able start a scholarship fund to benefit Bishop Shanahan students,  (his Alma mater) and gave a special gift to build and decorate the Celii Chapel in honor of his mother Mary.

He provided critical funding for the Penn Thyroid Center in conjunction with Abramson Cancer Center to fund a full range of thyroid research, diagnostic and treatment options for patients with thyroid cancer.

He made a significant donation to help build the Women’s Specialty Care Center at the Chester County Hospital. Funding for Chester County Hospital DaVinci Robotic Surgery Technology, and emergency room renovations. In addition, The Standardbred retirement foundation, was among the many other areas he felt needed the help of the Celii Foundation.

He had a deep passion for Horse racing, and took that love and turned it into a successful Standardbred Racing Enterprise. John had much success in this area as well, and he owned and bred many successful racehorses.  His pride and Joy, Badlands Hanover won the Breeders Crown Final at Colonial Downs in 1998, setting a world record of 1:50 at age two. Badlands went on to be a successful sire in two continents.  John loved the sport, and enjoyed spending an afternoon or evening at the track watching the horses race.

He loved music, baseball and football, and collecting cars.   He had a love of food and dining out with his family and friends whenever possible.  He loved to be on the water and was able to spend a little of his free time fishing and boating on the Chesapeake.

He loved to play cards, and was an exceptional Poker player.   He played in many high stakes poker tournaments and earned a seat in the world poker tour.   But his favorite times were when he would sit around the table with a bunch of guys from the club and play his favorite game.

John’s life was hard to sum up in a few paragraphs. His circle was small and if you were in, you were in.  He was tenacious, strong minded, dedicated, kind, and generous.  He was his best self when he was with his family, whom he never stopped taking care of, providing for, and worrying about, till his last breath.

He planned for every situation, route, risk, outcome, and was prepared and organized to the amazement of his family and friends. He was the person everyone turned to for advice no matter how big or small. And he was never shy about giving his opinion.  He will be missed by many and never forgotten.

John leaves behind his beloved wife, Patricia C. Celii of 56 years. His daughters, Stephanie A. Celii, and Jacqui M. Friday,  son-in law Mark P. Friday, and his grand daughter, Ashley M. Friday, to whom he was deeply devoted.  He is also survived by a sister, Edith in Florida.

A private family memorial will be held in his honor in accordance with his wishes.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Chester County Community Foundation, the Celii Foundation, or the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.


  1. Dear Pat,
    May the Lord bless and comfort you.

    Richard Calla | February 2, 2019 at 9:49 AM
  2. Stephanie, Pat, Jacqui, Mark, Ashley – Mr. Celii was a great man and I totally wish I had the chance to get to know him better. He was a great man and always had something to say. He will be missed.
    Stephanie- We have often talked about the first time we met Mr. and Mrs. Celii and the first time we really got to know more about them. I’ll always remember the homemade ravioli’s he made the first time we were in his home for dinner. I’ll remember his homemade holiday soup, Christmas Day (2017 or 2016) was the first time I tried it. I know you’re devestated, but I also know that you’re strong and all of you will make it through this. We are by your side.
    Mrs. Celii (Pat)- John was the luckiest man on Earth to have had a wife that’s as great as you were to him. You’re someone I love and cherish so much and I’m so happy we get to do what we both love to do together. You’re the best partner to be with and I’ll always remember that. I’m looking forward to more to come and many more fun memories with you! Love you all! May John Rest In Peace.

    Gavin Snyder | January 9, 2019 at 8:48 PM
  3. My first remembrances were of a cousin who i thought was the coolest guy in the world. My family’s weekly journey to Downingtown was something l always looked forward to. Not only was John my cousin; he was a great friend, who always found ways to make my life meaningful. He looked out for my mental as well as my physical needs. He will be missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to have known him. I’m lucky to have my memories of what we shared, the early days at H/P, softball games, all night sessions around a poker table and the success he found as owner/breeder of standardbred horses.
    To Pat, Stephanie, Jacqui,Mark and Ashley; I know you will find the strength to continue on as John would have wanted. His examples of strength and determination will help guide you. My prayers are with you.

    Jim fiore | January 8, 2019 at 12:59 PM
  4. For all of your prayers, love, and sympathy, We thank all of you for taking the time to say a few kind words about my dad. We are finding a way to get thru each day. My dad’s strength in life is what keeps us going. He was always there for us in life as we will be with him now and forever. I miss my dad so much. Life will never be the same. Stephanie

    Johns daughter, Stephanie | January 7, 2019 at 7:04 PM
  5. Patti and family. My prayers and love are with you during this sad time. May John Rest in Peace. Joan Basilio McConnell, cousin

    Joan McConnell | January 6, 2019 at 8:08 AM
  6. Sending strength and peace your way. John has always been a lively source of inspiration, pushing us onward and upward with great ideas and always overflowing with love.

    Karen Simmons | January 4, 2019 at 8:59 PM
  7. I knew John for a very short time and was very touched by his love and deep passion for his family. I’m very sorry to hear of his passing and will miss his kind friendship. Pat and girls, you will be in my prayers. xoxo

    Susan Sanderson, Naples, FL | January 4, 2019 at 8:32 PM
  8. Deepest of sympathies to you and the family. Find comfort in each other. Much love.

    Daphne | January 4, 2019 at 7:14 PM
  9. The Bishop Shanahan HIgh School Community remembers with love and gratitude our dear friend and graduate, John Celii, his dear wife Pat, and their daughters and extended family at this time. Our prayers are with you!
    May John rest in peace and enjoy eternal life.
    Administration, Faculty, Staff and Students of Bishop Shanahan High School

    Sister Regina Plunkett IHM | January 4, 2019 at 2:32 PM
  10. I wish I could have known John longer. He was a role model, somebody I looked up too. His accomplishments in life were remarkable and inspiring. He loved his family, and I know how much they all miss him. My heart goes out to Pat, Jacqui, Stephanie, Mark, Ashley and the rest of the extended family. I am here for all of you and keep you in my prayers.

    Robert Witterholt | January 3, 2019 at 8:17 PM
  11. Sending all my love and prayers! <3 <3 <3

    Marilena Celii | January 3, 2019 at 7:59 PM
  12. I’m so very sorry Patty to hear this very sad news… I remember meeting him before I was old enough to drive … parties at the Italian American club…keep your faith… your spirit…your mom was of great faith…”I hope from an abundance of heart my mouth speaks “

    Pat Fiore | January 3, 2019 at 2:42 PM
  13. Patty and family: Sorry for your loss.

    Joan Hoffman

    Joan Hoffman | January 3, 2019 at 1:33 PM
  14. He will be missed by family, friends, and community.

    N Stolar | January 3, 2019 at 1:07 PM
  15. He will Rest In Peace, God bless him. Nancy and I were fortunate to get know John early in life, probably in the late 70s. We shared grand-mom’s pasta, in her kitchen many times. He was successful in business, so we ( Nancy and I) had a lot to talk about. I helped purchase the Rolls Royce from Beverly Hills for the historical home Pat and John owned. After reading his Obit, I understand now how much more he did to better the world, He will be missed, God bless him
    Stephen McGlinn

    Stephen McGlinn | January 3, 2019 at 12:00 PM
  16. Taken too soon. What an amazing life. I was fortunate to be “in.” His savory advice during my pizzelle growth helped me get my arms around things. He gave me his time and his wisdom and I am forever grateful. Bob and I look forward to the time when those asleep in death will awaken. It is God’s promise in the book that bears his name John 5:28, 29. Until then, Pat, Stephie, Jacqui, Mark and Ashley know that we love you very much and not a day goes by that we are not thinking of you and keeping you in our prayers for comfort and peace. XO Dede

    denise williams | January 3, 2019 at 11:11 AM

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