Catherine Viberta Marie MacNeil
25 July 1931 – 27 August 2020
With family by her side, Catherine Viberta Marie MacNeil passed away peacefully at her home, ‘Brae Mhor’, outside Brighton MI USA. Viberta MacNeil was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia to Mary Agnes (MacIntyre) and William Vibert MacLean of Port Hawkesbury, NS. At the age of 16, she attended Saint Francis Xavier University (B.Sc. ‘52) where, at that time, she was one of the few women enrolled in the science programme. While at St. F.X., she met her husband, fellow B.Sc. student, John Angus MacNeil of New Waterford, NS. They enjoyed 63 years of marriage and raised four children while residing in Oakville ON, Holden MA, and Brighton MI. Viberta is survived by her four children: William (Pamela) of Byron Bay NSW, Australia; John (Diana Larratt) of Toronto and Lake Temagami ON; Mary Patricia Harding (Blair) of Brighton MI; and Peter of Brighton MI; and by seven grandchildren: Michael (Berkeley CA), James (Sydney NSW, Australia), Laura (Toronto ON); Catherine and Carolyn Harding (Brighton); and Riley and James (Brighton). She is also survived by her brothers, Dr. Charles Bernard (Regina) MacLean (Inverness NS) and former mayor and MLA, William Joseph (Glenda) MacLean (Port Hawkesbury NS); her brother-in-law, The Hon. George Yates (Ancaster ON); and by her many MacLean, MacIntyre, Harris, MacNeil, Laffin and Birmingham nephews, nieces and cousins. She was predeceased by her husband, John Angus; her brother, Dr. Norman James MacLean and sister-in-law, Dorothy (Toby’) Tobin MacLean; her sister, Eileen MacLean Yates, QC; her niece, Barbara MacLean; her great-nephew, Paul Levy, and great-niece Susan MacLean; and her cousin, Hariett (‘Jean’) MacIntyre Harris. Though a patriotic (naturalised) American, Viberta was always proud of her Highland Scottish heritage, her Canadian Maritime roots and, above all, her Cape Breton kith and kin, long prominent in the social, economic and political life of the Island. With her husband John Angus, Viberta co-founded and served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Vortech Pharmaceuticals Limited of Dearborn MI, a company that enjoyed great success. A devout parishioner of St Patrick Catholic Church, a longtime member of Oak Pointe Country Club, a staunch supporter of her alma mater, St. F.X., and an absolute devotee of The New York Times crossword, ‘Bert’ was happiest when entertaining friends and family with John Angus at ‘Brae Mhor’. As a couple, they were well-known figures in Ontario and Michigan horse racing circles, raising many successful standard-bred racing horses, including ‘Rob Ron Sonny’, ‘Amherst Lou’ and ‘Savour the Memory’. Celebrated for her keen mind, quick wit, and boundless generosity, Viberta MacNeil will be greatly missed by her family, classmates, neighbours, Vortech employees, business colleagues, fellow horse enthusiasts, and many, many friends, particularly Ronda Golip (Brighton MI), Agnes Lawson (Halifax NS), Patricia Woodford (Baddeck NS), Joan Tracey (Birmingham MI), Grant Cregan (Montreal QC), Jeannette Strathy (Toronto ON), and Donald Rankin (Windsor ON). A funeral Mass and a memorial service will be held at a later date.