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Dora (Santoro) GuthrieFebruary 21, 2017
Northampton- Dora Guthrie died February 21, 2017, ninety-five years old.
She was born Dora Santoro, August 7, 1921, in Clinton Massachusetts.
Between those two dates she had an exciting, dynamic and sometimes, heart-rending life.
Dora’s parents’ marriage was pre-arranged her father, Dominic, came to America first, settled in, then sent for his bride. She came with her chaperone.
Dora was born into a traditional Italian family, that was stern, religious, and hard working. she had one sister and three brothers, two of these brothers were identical twins. In this family, it was boys rule. Dora was fun loving, gregarious, and enjoyed many friends. As you can imagine, not unlike today’s youth this created familial discord. I once asked her “what was it like growing up in the depression”? She said,” we were all poor, we were all the same, no one knew anything different”.
Warren Stokes, a soldier, came into her life and swept her off her feet. This was an issue because he was first, not Italian; second, he did not have the same religion, and he was a widower.
Now Dora Stokes, with her husband Warren were a family, with two children; a son Donnie and a daughter Doreen.
The hidden part of this contract was in-laws. Her husband’s family less structured, foot stomping, guitar playing, whisky drinking farmers. Wow! Talk about culture shock. And there were seven of them. They were; fun loving, hard playing family, just a tad hedonistic.
Dora showed pride in her appearance and dignity in her presentation. She carried this attitude through her life and inspired her family with her diligence.
Dora was a devoted wife and had a strong will as a mother. She was a motivated disciplinarian.” Don’t talk while you’re eating”! “Stop playing with your food”! “You wait until your father sees this”! “You are not going to school looking like that”!
She felt that she could never be the cook her mother was. However, I remember her making, mouthwatering, stews, roasts, pasta dishes and cakes and pies. She continued cooking into her late eighties with gastronomic results and a few smoke alarm distractions.
Towing a trailer from Gill, Massachusetts, Warren and Dora explored the United States East to West, North to South, resting in Florida’s west coast. Before Warren retired they build a small house/cottage in Warwick, Massachusetts, here they spent their summers and wintered in the area they found in their earlier travels in Florida. Florida became there home now. It was in Florida that Warren died from the complications of cancer.
When Warren died, Dora had to re-invent herself. She assumed responsibility for all the areas that her husband had controlled, without the benefit of experience. And dealing with the loss of her mate, the times were devastating with gut wrenching sadness
Her rebirth was an evolution to behold. She was bolder, stronger, more secure, she became the woman in charge. Decisions were easy. Now she was in control of her destiny.
Recognizing the benefits in a new relationship, she accepted the advances of a new suiter. A man she encountered in a bereavement group, Charles Guthrie. Charles was a Southern gentleman, a retired Army Major, who was widowed. A fine a man as I have met. They married, it was a marriage of equals. This was a time of travel, good dining and new friendships; they were a fine couple. They enjoyed life together; life was good. Charles died from a sudden heart attack.
Again, Dora felt the ugly pain of loss, this was so hard to believe it could happen to her again. The bond of strong friendships and her religious beliefs absorbed much of the grief she suffered. Once again Dora redefined herself, and grew in the process.
Use of her gulf cart allowed her access to shopping, doctors, entertainment, exercising, dining and socializing in general. But she was having small accidents, the results of declining coordination. Dora’s control over her life began to diminish.
Dora’s health required several hospitalizations to stabilize her. In her mid-eighties, her health both mental and physical were declining. Begging the question whether she could safely live alone. Friends and neighbors moved, died or were incapable of assisting her. Dora took a firm stand, refusing assistance and insisting she could take care of herself. Dementia was clouding her abilities. Her daughter would fly in from Massachusetts to provide care and necessary interventions.
Declining mental health with her physical limitations and a lack of social support presented a danger that Dora finally recognized. She agreed to look at an assisted living facility in Massachusetts. The selling point was that it would bring her closer to her family.
When Dora arrived in Massachusetts the worst snowstorm on Halloween I have ever seen occurred. This should have been a bad omen.
Dora did not like assisted living. “It was a prison you must sign in and sign out. If I want to go somewhere I must ask someone. When I was in Florida I got on my golf cart and went. Beside that it’s cold here and everyone here is old and can’t hear.”
With declining physical ability Dora, had experienced several falls resulting in fractures, many bruises and several sutures. Dora consistently blamed Massachusetts for this saying “nothing like this ever happened to me in Florida”.
As Dora’s dementia progressed she became more aware that she was losing control of her thoughts. This frightened her, she asked me “am I crazy”.
From assisted living to nursing home, the dementia progressed she lost vision in one eye and could no longer walk. She would ask “why can’t I just die and be with your father?” “There are devils here you know”!
Dora was a strong woman She took pride in herself and her appearance. She did not want to be seen like this. She stopped eating, drinking and stopped taking her medications.
She died in the early morning of what turned out to be a beautiful day.
Those who remember Dora before dementia, will remember a gracious silver haired women who could be very engaging, a bit feisty, but always there to help if needed.
I however will remember my mother standing at the sink laughing at the little boy that just untied her apron.
Dora leaves behind; A daughter Doreen Thompson, her husband William Thompson, their children, Sally, Susan and Tammy; a son Donnie Stokes his wife Virginia Newell/Stokes, his three children Scott Stokes, Tazz Stokes, Kelly Cornish and her husband Scott Cornish; and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be private. Burial will be at the convenience of the family.
Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of the donor’s choice.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Kostanski Funeral Home. Sympathy message available at www.kostanskifuneralhome.com.