Dorothy Palumbo

Obituary of Dorothy Palumbo

Dorothy was born in the village of Granville, Illinois in December of 1924, but grew up in the coal mining town of Dunmore, Pennsylvania the eldest of nine children, together with her parents Susan and Frank Bolick. She attended Dunmore High School graduating from there in 1942 shortly after the start of World War II. 

Drawn to the lights of the big city Dorothy moved to Brooklyn after graduation, sending money back home to help the family while living with her Uncle and Aunt.

Dorothy donned her ‘Rosie the Riveter’ kerchief to work at Tungsten Electric LTD doing the delicate job of securing electronic filaments in the manufacture of vacuum tubes that were later to be used in assembling walkie talkies for the military. It was here she met a tall lanky Brooklyn boy, Vincent James (Jim) Palumbo who, smitten by the Pennsylvanian ‘tomato’, would become her husband. Dorothy and Jim first settled in Williamsburg where Jim had been born and raised and where his family lived. From there, after the war, Dorothy went on to use her talents as a seamstress in the design and creation of bridal gowns in Manhattan’s famous Garment District. Dorothy and Jim had a son Joseph while still living at “Grandma’s house” in Williamsburg but when Joe turned a year old it was decided more room was needed and the family found their forever home on 74th Avenue in, at the time, bucolic Forest Hills. The beautiful screened porch had sealed the deal for Dorothy and Joe’s incandescent head of red hair sealed the deal for the house’s previous owner Mrs. Dunn. The porch, shaded by the giant tulip tree out front, became a favorite spot for the family to gather during pleasant weather to break bread and share stories from their day. Its magical effects are also credited, together with Dorothy’s famous Friday pizzas, with seducing her future children-in-laws into the family. Dorothy’s cooking prowess was not limited to New York/Neapolitan flatbreads. Her dessert ‘magic bars’ are famous far and wide as the most requested office party treat in history.

Two years after Joseph, Mary-Lynne was born. With Dorothy as the faithful navigator, Jim piled on the miles behind the wheel as the foursome divided their weekends between Forest Hills, Williamsburg and Dunmore. Seven years into the road trips, in 1961, Dorothy’s physician diagnosed her with gallstones and 9 months later -on Dorothy’s birthday- Dorthy-Ann was born. 

While the children were young Dorothy spent much of her time volunteering, particularly at Our Lady Queens of Martyrs where the girls went to school. As the children got older, and to feed her inquiring mind, Dorothy entered Queens College …at the same time that Joseph and Mary-Lynne were attending.  

Dorothy was immediately banished from “The Cool Kid’s Table”. 

But Dorothy had ‘the porch card’. So, Friday nights were spent at home with her kids and their friends from college playing the piano, singing songs of the era, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin… with Dorothy frequently singing lead. She had a beautiful singing voice that had once earned her an invitation to go on the road with a Big Band back in her Dunmore days, but her Mom had nixed that. So, she resolved herself to continuing to use her lovely voice singing in the church choir of Our Lady of Mercy. It seemed Dorothy always had a song for any occasion. 

Dorothy received her master’s in education from Queens College and went on to teach Nutrition, Sewing, Budgeting and Cooking and Home Economics at Bishop Kearney High School in Brooklyn. When a few of the young women in her senior class expressed a preference for marriage to their high-school boyfriends over the chance to continue their educations, Dorothy inquired as to the future potential household budgets and took the class on a field trip looking at apartments to see what could be afforded. More than one parent expressed their gratitude to Dorothy as their daughters filled out college applications instead of rental agreements.

Dorothy and family spent their summers in Hemlock Farms, Pennsylvania where she could visit her Mom more frequently. She also took this time as an opportunity to teach at the cooperative extension. She had done her thesis on energy conservation and had fostered a sustainable mind set long before many knew what that even was. After her retirement from teaching secondary school Dorothy taught CCD at our Lady of Mercy Church where she was also a Eucharistic Minister.

Dorothy was not shy about her thoughts but was always mindful of the feelings of others. When she felt her children were taking too much time in giving her grandchildren, she sewed her own ‘cabbage patch’ grand-kids and presented them as gifts to her children. Grandchildren, Alexander and Nancilee, followed in short order and immediately became the focus of Dorothy’s outsized love and attention. The porch became more chaotic, but it never seemed crowded.  

Dorothy and Jim had a beautiful life together that lasted 60 years. She once wrote in a “Book of Us” she had composed for posterity in the subsequent decade after Jim's passing, that she loved him because they shared such a strong faith and love of their families.

Dorothy is survived by son Joseph (New Jersey), daughter-in-law Patti, and grandson Alexander. Her daughter Mary-Lynne (New York), son-in-law Terry and granddaughter Nancilee. Her daughter Dorthy-Ann (New York) and son-in-law John.  Her nieces Janis, Mary Theresa, Laurie, Susan, Nancy, Ellen, Debbie, Missy, Susie and Regina. Her nephews Joseph, Michael, Larry, Joey, Nick, Robert, Damien, Dorian, Adrian and Bruce. She is survived by her sister-in-law Gertie.

Dorothy is preceded in death by her parents Frank and Susan, husband, Jim, sisters Annie, Frances, Susan, Johanna and Jane, and brothers Frank, John and Nick, nieces Linda,Camille and Cindy and nephew Jimmy.

Memorial donations may be made to the Queens Community House or St. Joseph’s Indian School.