Dorothea “Dorothy” Noelle Gallagher Dion, 100, died peacefully on February 27, 2020, in Roseville, CA. For more than a century, she lit up this world with the brightness of her eyes and the warmth of her soul.
Dorothy was born in Manhattan on August 11, 1919. She was proudly Irish on both sides. Her father worked at the Brooklyn Naval Yard and her mother, who was deaf, was the head of the Catholic Deaf Association. Dorothy came of age during the Great Depression. An experience that had a lasting impact on her worldview.
In 1940, Dorothy graduated from the Jersey City School of Nursing and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. She served as a nurse in England and Ireland during WWII and learned to drive every vehicle owned by the Army — even a tank!
While overseas, she met a handsome pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Louis C. Dion Jr.. While together, he joined the Army Air corps. In 1943 she and Lou married in Scotland. In 1944, (after previously loosing part of her hearing during several bombing raids) she was offered a medical retirement. She and Lou returned to the States. They lived in New York, Alabama, Florida,Texas and Virginia before settling in Tucson where they remained for the next 50 years.
Dorothy wasn’t afraid to pitch in when it came to the house. She and Lou were true DIY-ers and did everything from paint to tile. Famous for her Irish stew and Swiss steak, Dorothy was a great cook! The couple had a wide circle of friends and spent many evenings playing bridge or dancing to big band music at the officer’s club.
In 1963, after Lou retired, Dorothy returned to work as a nurse at Tucson Medical Center’s neurosurgical ward. She loved nursing and her patients. Many made her thank-you gifts throughout the years; which, in true Dorothy fashion, she never threw away.
After retiring in the ‘80s, Dorothy and Lou criss-crossed North America, first in a car, then a motorhome — and then a bigger motorhome. They visited friends and family all over the country but their favorite destination was Canada. Dorothy even learned how to speak French.
They also traveled overseas, going on bus tours in Morocco, France, and Germany.
Dorothy was an ardent and sentimental collector, with large assortments of stamps, coins, and matchbooks. She bought refrigerator magnets wherever she traveled — and made sure you brought one back from wherever you went, too. She even collected states, proudly adding a pushpin to her map in the RV for each of the 48 she visited.
In 2008, a decade after her husband passed, Dorothy moved in with her daughter in Chandler, AZ. For the last four years of her life, she lived with her son in California.
Dorothy will be remembered as kind and thoughtful, outgoing and bubbly. She enjoyed reading, taking photos (LOTS of photos), cracking jokes, and writing long letters. More than anything, Dorothy adored her family, from her own mother all the way down to her great-great grandson, Braxton, whom she got to hold on her 100th birthday. She was affectionate with everyone, and generous with her hugs and kisses.
Though Dorothy faced many health struggles, including hearing loss, cancer, and a stroke, she was the definition of a trooper. She never had a bad day, and never had a bad word to say about anyone. She was endlessly positive, carrying her sense of humor and her beautiful smile with her to the very end.
Dorothy is predeceased by her husband of 54 years, Louis C. Dion Jr.; her sister, Grace Beck; and her granddaughter, Desiree Dion. She is survived by her children, Richard Gallagher (Joan), Dori Warren, Katherine Henderson (Harold), Louis Dion (Cheri), and William Dion (Carol); as well as 14 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandson.
Dorothy will be buried next to her husband at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. If it is safe to do so, the family hopes to have a memorial service in August; to be added to the guest list and receive details when available, please email [email protected]