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Dorothy Louise DeSmedt

October 19, 1926 July 11, 2022
Dorothy Louise DeSmedt
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Obituary for Dorothy Louise DeSmedt

Dorothy Louise (Weber) DeSmedt was born on October 19, 1926. For those who loved her she was also called Pinkie, Dotty, Ma, Missy, and Queen Mum. My mother was a sweet gentle woman, she had joy in life but experienced much suffering and torment that many never knew. Her mother Mildred died only 3 months after childbirth from tuberculosis. Mom was raised by her paternal grandmother who was widowed and ran a boarding house. August her father did not live with them, visited seldom and was a stranger. Mom believed for many years that she was the illegitimate child of her grandmother causing a fragile identity to form. She did have abundant love from her Aunt Lill and Uncle John who still lived home. Her father remarried and considered raising her, but Mom was so frightened she hid behind the couch, so she stayed with her grandmother. Her father returned when she was sixteen to celebrate her coming of age, Mom had told me he was an unknown and she could not enjoy the day. The Weber family originally lived in Harlem and later moved to upstate NY. Mom loved to roller skate and met Augustine at the Angola Roller Rink in Cornwall NY in 1946, they married the same year in November. Within a few years two children arrived Lawrence and Diane. Marie, Augie’s mother taught Dorothy to manage a home and children. Nine years elapsed and surprise a third child Valentina (me) arrived. Following my birth my mother suffered from severe postpartum depression. Mental health treatment options then were limited, and years of anxiety and depression resulted in multiple admissions to the Middletown State Hospital. Mom’s weight ballooned and Diane had to design and sew clothes for her. Mother-in-law Marie developed severe Parkinsons disease, she was unable to feed or care for herself. Despite her depression Mom provided 24-hour home care for Marie until she passed. The life stresses and loss rifted the marriage and a legal separation occurred in 1971. This same year Diane, who had run away several years’ prior was murdered in California. Drugs were believed to be involved but it remains a cold case. This loss was too much, an admission to the Psychiatric hospital for several months was needed. Larry who had followed Diane to California returned to NY. He also was involved in the world of drugs, he attempted to rob a bank making the front-page news of the local paper and was imprisoned in Sing-Sing for several years. In prison Larry had learned to weld and found employment on his release, Mom was proud that he was turning his life around. Mom did factory work for several years and found solace in fine detail needlepointing. Family and friends (the Webers, O’Neills, Baumanns, Veselys, Doerings and the Berubes) gave her support but the passing of several close friends was too much, and an overdose of her psychiatric medications led to another state hospital admission. This admission lasted for several years: electroshock, ice water baths and numerous medication regimes were used to combat her depression. She was eventually placed in an outpatient group family care home and began employment again as a private housekeeper. Depression was stabilized and she was ready for discharge from the group home, she took on a full-time job as a housekeeper at St. Theresa’s Nursing home. Mom and I decided to take an apartment together as neither of us could afford to rent singly. Together we created a lovely garden in the back yard of our East Main St apartment. This was a joy to her. She took the opportunity to become a housekeeper in the newborn nursery at Horton Memorial Hospital and was proud to keep the area spotless. Years after Larry’s prison release he fell into the demons of heroin abuse, Mom worried, anxiety built, and she was admitted briefly to the Cornwall Mental Health unit. She continued to find ways to cope. She was always available to listen to the concerns of others. She shared in the happiness of the births of our friends Dawn and Richie Vacek’s children: Chris, Cara, and Craig and due to her nursery work was able to be present for their births. She also took delight in Winkie Hecht’s daughter Amy. Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer facing surgery and radiation, she remarked years later that she felt strong during this time. My Fathers ex-girlfriend Lucille Hand, who I considered as a stepmother also had breast cancer, she reached out to Mom and offered support. Lucille extended an invite to Mom to come to the family Christmas eve gathering which Mom accepted. She became great friends with Lucille’s mother Helen and the two of them would be found at the Hand Clan family picnics and parties sitting together enjoying each other’s company. When I met my husband Bob and a proposal followed, he knew he married a package that included my mother. His family loved Mom and we shared so many years of happy times with parties and holiday celebrations. The Wells and Youngs crowned her as the Queen Mum. She loved Taylor, Kayla, Rylan, and Kasey. Mom retired from Horton Hospital and started to volunteer in 1994 continuing until 2014. She contributed 20 years, 8 months for a total of 6481 hours of service. She stayed active and had a wonderful group of senior lady friends that were dubbed the crinkle crew, every Friday going out for dinners and playing cards. Gardening continued despite hip and knee replacements. Larry met Bambi in 1997, she helped him to stay clean. In 2000 they married Coney Island style with a mermaid wedding, and we all rode on the Ferris Wheel to make it official. Mom loved it all! Every visit from Bambi would put a huge smile on Mom’s face. Larry became recognized as a talented motorcycle builder and stunt man. He was featured on the Discovery Channel TV series Biker Build Off. In 2002, even though legally separated Augie passed, Mom still cared for him and now labeled herself a widow. In 2004 another tragedy: Larry fell during a stunt suffering severe head injury and was taken off life support 2 days later. Mom was interviewed, filmed, and featured on a Discovery episode. She has become world known. During the filming session we gathered at Larrys old friend Mike Bass’s house, and he gave her a ride on his motorcycle- Her FIRST at the age of seventy-eight! As a result of the Discovery Channel, a fan club developed in Norway, and they formed Tribute MC Norway. Erland, Kai, and Thomas came to visit, and they immediately adopted her as the club Mom. Signing autographs of Larrys book that Bambi had coauthored she felt like a celebrity. Mom continued to live with Bob and me. She gardened and spent hours designing hand stamped greeting cards that she gave as gifts as well as donated to the hospital gift shop to sell. One day while I was working, she fell down the basement steps and injuring her head and broke her clavicle. I banned her from going down to basement when no one was home. Independence was important to her, so she decided it was time for her own apartment and she moved into Senior Way. It was the first time in her life she had lived alone! She got permission to garden in a common area and created a spectacular floral view that she could see from her windows. Lots of love, labor, and mulch. One day she fell in her apartment, she struggled to get up, she succeeded but was so frightened that extreme anxiety set in. She called her social worker and got herself admitted to Bon Secors Mental Health Unit. For a safe discharge Mom moved into The Promenade Assisted Living Facility. She enjoyed living with her new friend and roommate Irene. Mom loved to have visits from Irene’s grandchildren and delighted to give them stuffed toys at the holidays. The Promenade staff provided diligent care and Mom had an incredibly special bond with Viviane a personal care aide and Lucille the hairdresser. Aging gradually limited Mom’s activities but she loved car rides to Goshen for ice cream at Trailside Treats and Sunday shrimp scampi dinners that my husband Bob always made for her. She was able to walk with her rollator and loved going out into the Promenade garden courtyard where she could sit in the sun. She enjoyed her birthday milestone parties at Tony Boffa’s and was planning to reach her 100th. On July 10th she was expected to go for a ride for ice cream followed by Sunday dinner, but she woke with pain, she was taken to emergency room, she arrived awake but quickly became comatose because of a large brain bleed. Mom passed peacefully on July 11. My special friend Dawn who knew Mom for over 45 years and myself held her hands as she made her transition.

There will be no visitation. Mom’s ashes will be returned to the earth into my garden that we created together. A Life Celebration will be held in her birth month on Oct 9 at 2 pm at St. John’s Lutheran Church (391 Mount Hope Road, Middletown, NY), all are welcome to attend. Memorial contributions can be made to Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh or Garnet Health Medical Center in Middletown.

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Upcoming Events

Service

Sunday

9

Oct

2:00 PM 10/9/2022 2:00:00 PM - 3:00 PM 10/9/2022 3:00:00 PM
St. John's Lutheran Church

391 Mount Hope Road
Middletown, NY 10940

St. John's Lutheran Church
391 Mount Hope Road Middletown 10940 NY
United States
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