March 7, 2012 Dorothy Ratcliffe Smith passed away on March 7, 2012, in her home in Syracuse, NY, with her husband and both daughters at her side. She had struggled against cancer since learning of her condition on August 11, 2011, but her fight was of little avail since the inevitable end descended rapidly. She succumbed to it with the same dignity and composure that had carried her through life as a quiet, calm, thoughtful and gracious lady. She was 79. She was born in Pittsburgh, PA, on February 9, 1933. Her parents were Vera Ratcliffe (nee Benfield of North Carolina) and John Ratcliffe. Dorothy was number 7 in a flock of 10 children (5 of each). Because of the Great Depression, the family soon moved to Merrimack Valley, settling in Methuen, MA. Dorothy was schooled ultimately at Searles High School (and voted Senior Class president by her classmates in 1950). Upon graduation she took whatever work was available. Soon (1952) she moved to Raleigh, NC, to live with her sister, Vera Harrison (who had ventured away earlier), and her husband Ray. Promptly she obtained employment in the Raleigh Police Department, remaining until she met and married Kenneth Judson Smith Jr. of Raleigh. In 1954, they moved to Greenville, NC, where her spouse entered East Carolina College. Three years later, with a degree, they moved to Durham, NC, where four more years led to another degree (Duke University). During this time Dorothy worked at the Duke University Graduate School as secretary to the associate dean, with the responsibility for student records, files, reports, etc. After graduation they remained in Research Triangle Park region rearing two daughters, Patricia and Pamela. Several years later, in 1968, the family moved to Syracuse, NY, where Dorothy secured several positions at Syracuse University, for example, office manager and secretary to the director of the Metropolitan Studies program. Eventually, she successfully rose to become senior secretary to the dean and office manager of the famed Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. In 1987, she left the university to spend more time at home doing the things that she liked best: arts and crafts, not for business but for pleasure. She enrolled in non-degree courses at University College and at BOCES. Her interests were wide: wall papering and painting, floor tiling, glazing (bricks, slate and ceramics), leaded glass (clear or colored design), decoupage, gardening and walkways, and not missing a day at the gym. Sewing and fashion designs were particularly special to her: handbags, vests, jackets, coats, etc. Another craft close to her heart was upholstery. She took it up on her own and became very proficient so she applied for a job at Stickley’s in Manlius to polish her techniques and eliminate her weak spots. When Dorothy explained this, Mr. Audi himself was so surprised and pleased he immediately hired her. Once her needs were satisfied, she moved on with high regard and appreciation for Mr. Audi. Dorothy was predeceased by her parents and four siblings, Jack, Fred, Alice Pricer and Joan Savard. Surviving are her husband, Kenneth; daughters, Patricia Pittman (Raleigh) and Pamela Smith (Syracuse, NY); five siblings, Robert-Ann (Pinehurst, NC), Edward- Evelyn (Methuen, MA), Vera Harrison (Gardner, NC), Jean Robillard (Pelham, NH), and Richard-Gail (Pelham, MA); seven grandchildren, Jay, Jon (Pittman), Joy Jones, and Jessica, Whitney, Dale, Daniel (Ross all). All others– aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws–are too numerous to name here. Dorothy had great love and respect for all. She made her part of this world a better place. Services will be private, at a later date, at the convenience of the family.
I wanted to curate a separate collection of the letters to/from my grandmother. She was my pen-pal for my whole childhood and early adult life. Some of the letters I wrote her when I was younger are really embarrassing to read today, but I put them in the collection nonetheless. She gave them all to me a few years before she passed away. She wanted to scrapbook them, but she never really got that into scrapbooking. (I did, for a while there, but I never wanted to use glue on these letters!)
I made a virtual album. I finished it in early February, just in time for her birthday (February 9th). And today, March 7, is the fourth anniversary of her passing. Time flies. I still have a hard time believing she’s gone, sometimes…
Today’s post is (hesitantly) a link to the letter album: