Dorothy Louise Foley
Dorothy (Dotty), daughter of Charles and Alvera Fritz, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. This is where she grew up and lived until she married and moved to Indialantic, Florida. She had a very happy childhood. However, like most growing up during the War era, these were tough times for every child. She often recalled and shared with her children that during that time such commodities such as sugar and butter were often rationed, and that sometimes meant that you didn’t always get to have a cake on your birthday. She also remembered all the gardens, and especially the Victory Gardens. This was also the time where she learned to be thrifty, creative, and always practicing her “waste not, want not” mentality, a motto and virtue that she would practice and live by throughout her life. It was also from these early childhood memories, where she developed her passion of baking, cooking and celebrating and cherishing everything in life. Her Father was a Baltimore Fireman, so she also learned very early on what it meant to always do your best to help, protect, and save others whenever humanly possible. This shaped who she became and helped establish so many of her wonderful qualities, that went well beyond just her amazing motherly traits.
Dotty attended Eastern High School in Baltimore, MD where she was a bright student, active in student affairs as well as being a Majorette with strong school spirit. Upon graduating in 1955 she went straight to full-time work at the young age of 18, and she always gave a portion of her pay to her parents, which was not uncommon in those days. One of her first jobs was with the hospital at the University of Maryland Medical Center where she was put in charge of scheduling surgeons for their cases. This was a great job as Baltimore was the epicenter of medicine at this time. This is where she first met the love of her life, Michael. She often recounted that she could never forget seeing his great big beautiful blue eyes for the first time. Michael had just returned back from the Korean War and was finishing up his residency which had been interrupted by his service.
Michael asked her on a first date in which he took her over to a couple friend of his, and they had a crab dinner in their basement apartment. They were immediately enamored with each other. They started dating for a few weeks, but then he transferred to various other hospitals for further specialty surgical training and he completely dropped off contact with her due to such a busy schedule. Dotty was confused and hurt, but while she still couldn’t stop thinking about him, she accepted another guy’s invitation to a hospital dance which she knew Michael was attending. Michael also knew she was going to be at the dance. He chose his moment and walked up to her. He told he was sorry for falling out of touch, but he knew she was the one, and he simply needed time to get himself in order. From that point on that dance changed their lives forever and there was no looking back for either of them.
They were married in less than a year later, August of 1957. Dorothy was a month away from her 20th birthday and Michael was a week away from his 30th birthday. They started their young life together with a honeymoon in the Poconos in upstate NY. They had to stay relatively close because Michael could only get a couple days off from the hospital. They wasted no time in starting a family and their first son James was born in 1958.
A year later they moved to Indialantic as they wanted to be part of the exciting and wonderfully inspiring times of the Space Coast. To their friends and family this came as a surprise at the time, but in retrospect it wasn’t surprising at all. Both Dotty and Michael’s personalities were full of enthusiasm, curiosity, passion, and both had an unwavering positive and optimistic outlook on life. It thus makes perfect sense looking back on this decision, that they were simply embarking on their life journey and adventures together
When they first moved to Indialantic, “it was just a wide spot in the road” as Michael loved to say. Neither of them knew too much about the area other than this was going to become the future Space Coast. The Mercury and Apollo programs were in full swing at the time, and this was an exciting time for so many young professionals and families moving to this area to explore this new frontier.
They settled into this beautiful beachside community and almost instantly fell in love with this charming place as well as with the many wonderful people they met. They continued to grow their family and had four more children over the next eight years; Patricia, Catherine, John, and Daniel. Dotty, as much as it may surprise some, loved being pregnant. She loved being a mother, but it was never lost on anyone that she loved her family above all else.
Dotty loved everything about the space program and has followed it closely ever since. In the last several years she has been so thrilled to see such a resurgence in the space programs again with SpaceX and NASA. She would rarely ever miss a launch, even though they seem to go weekly these days, and she would still watch every one of them with such amazement and excitement.
While Michael was busy at the hospital and building his medical practice, Dotty was quite busy herself, not only had she birthed five children by the age of 30, she was also taking care of running the household affairs. At the young age of 25, one of her earliest and proudest accomplishments was designing a new house on the Indian River for their growing family, which they moved into in November of ‘64. Not only was she looking after three young children at the time and pregnant with her fourth, she was all the while overseeing every detail with the architect and their builder, Vince Yotti, who would become a dear friend. This is where they would reside for the rest of their lives and is still the family home 56 years later. When you start to learn about all the details and forethought that went into it, that is when you will truly start to realize what a spectacular accomplishment this was and it will always be a testament to her vision, creativity, attention to detail, and organizational skills. Michael was always complimenting and bragging on her for this. There were so many unique features so well thought out, from the intercom system to the kid’s bedrooms, to the upstairs laundry chute, finish selections, outside drinking fountain for the kids at play outside, etc. She was way of ahead of her time.
You may ask where she found the time to do all of this as well as take care of a family of seven. Her children do not know the answer to this even though they have asked her many times. She would simply reply without hesitation, that she just did it, and that she absolutely loved doing it, and she would love to do it all over again. What is even more impressive was how good she was at it. She was always creating and trying new and different dishes all the time. Having meals together as a family was always so special to her and for anyone that was invited, and partly because of her cooking. However, even more so, it was simply that the meals always brought everyone together to share something special that she had done for us all. Even when the children were all grown, because of her love to bake and cook, she continued to further hone her cooking skills by taking culinary vacations with her sisters and friends and mostly to Italy which she thoroughly enjoyed.
In addition to being an amazing cook, she also made many of her own clothes. She would often make that special gown for the upcoming hospital ball and each one was more beautiful and elegant than the next. Not only did she make her own clothes and gowns, but she also did some beautiful smocking, cross stitch, counter cross stitch, quilting, knitting, embroidery, and her needle work was second to none. She poured so much time and love into each and every one of her projects, that the beauty of each shined through so very brightly. All these were just some of the many crafts that she did. Others included paper mâché, decoupage and one of her greatest crafts and gifts of all was her photography.
Before digital photography she used to develop her own film and color slides and had a darkroom at home to make her own prints. She was always one to keep up with the times and she eventually switched to digital photography. Once she realized that she could take endless pictures at no additional cost, she became an even bigger photo enthusiast. Her favorite subject were always the sunsets from the backyard overlooking looking the Indian River. She never tired of these sunsets and felt each one was unique. She had an eye for capturing just the right moment and the full emotion of the shot. She also became quite proficient on her Apple computer and all her Apple devices, and she was always emailing and texting all her children, grandchildren, sisters and friends with inspiring photos and messages. In the past couple of years her sisters and her would also do a weekly FaceTime call to laugh and share their life experiences.
Dotty’s love for sports and games were part of her entire life. In the summers she loved to water ski and she helped teach all of her children and many of their friends to ski. In the winter months Dotty and Michael would often venture west for snow skiing trips to Aspen, way before it was popular. She was an avid tennis player at the Eau Gallie Yacht Club with the women’s group and enjoyed mixed-doubles with Michael. She rarely had the chance to play golf while raising her children, and this was always Michael’s favorite pastime, even though he only played once a week if that. However, once all their children were finished college and moving on with their own lives, they bought a second home at Reynold’s Plantation on Lake Oconee, just an hour east of Atlanta. It was there that she became an avid golfer, and while they still continued to play tennis, golf slowly took over as the primary activity. Initially we think she took up golf just to spend more time with Michael with the sport he so loved, but it soon became clear that golf became one of her passions as well. One of her favorite things to do was compete with anybody on the practice putting greens, and usually a penny a hole.
It was at Reynolds that she also took up swimming and water aerobics. When she wasn’t playing sports herself, you would often find her watching and cheering on her favorite college football or basketball teams. She would always cheer as equally as she could for every team that her husband, children, and grandchildren went to school , even though that was sometimes a challenge as many times they would competing against each other. I think we all got a kick out of how much she truly tried to be impartial and supportive at the same time. Every year this would be topped off by the by watching the Rose Bowl Parade, her all-time favorite. She also never missed the Triple Crown races or the Masters golfing tournament in the spring.
In addition to dancing any chance she and Michael had the occasion to enjoy, you could find the both of them watching or participating in sports or games. She was absolutely and equally thrilled to play board games, dominos, card games, corn hole, bocce ball, croquet, and with anyone who would play, especially her grandchildren. If people weren’t around or weren’t able to play, she would play computer games such as FreeCell, solitaire or connect with her sisters and friends remotely and play Words With Friends. Lately, her favorite game and pastime was playing Mahjong with a close group of friends. She was quite competitive and loved to win, but somehow winning to her wasn’t what it is to most people and I think to her it was just part of the joy of playing. When the children were younger, she would even turn yardwork into game such as “let’s see who can pull the longest weed, or who could build the largest weed pile.” She was quite clever with her band of five and just made everything in life fun, even yardwork.
Gardening was another favorite hobby and she has been a longtime member of Garden Club By The Sea. Like all of her social groups, she cherished her friendships from longtime friends as well as new friends and relationships she was always making. She was even the membership chair a couple of years ago. She cherished the Florida landscape and would often try to root indigenous plants and shrubs such as the mumbo gumbo tree or the Irish Petticoat shrub among others. She would then clip them to share with others to root. Her favorite flowers and bushes were roses, hibiscus, hydrangeas and gardenias, but above all others, she loved orchids. As an added bonus she would try to keep an herb garden to accent her culinary skills.
In addition to all the fun and games she was very busy in the community. She was active in the Junior Service League of South Brevard and later a sustainer. She was Vice President of the Medical Auxiliary League for the county and the state where she taught First Aid and CPR and other classes to the surrounding schools and civic groups. She was also a member of the Holmes Hospital Auxiliary Association. Dotty also assisted Michael with his medical practice and participated in many of the hospital activities and functions. Michael was always complimenting and bragging at how she was such a big reason for the success of his practice.
On top of all of this she still found time to raise a family as well as travel the world on fabulous vacations. Quite often, they may have been working vacations with the hospital groups, and one such occasion they found themselves in the middle of Tiananmen Square, as the uprising had just begun there. She actually got out her camera and was taking pictures of the events and the tanks, the fires, and all the chaos. Her pictures even ended up in the papers documenting those events. We remember her recollection that Michael kept saying, Dotty stop taking pictures we need to get out of here. So typical of her to want to get the photo.
There were also so many big family vacations like driving across country with five kids all the way to northern California in an RV, up to Baltimore and Boston to visit family, a houseboat trip in the Keys, a sailing trip from Melbourne to the Bahamas, all unique and treasured times spent together with family.
Her love of family began with her own loving parents, a brother and three sisters. They all remained close over the years and would often try to find the time for an annual get away, which didn’t always happen as life gets in the way sometimes, but when they did happen, special memories were formed that will never be forgotten, and they would all quickly return to being just siblings.
To know Dotty was to love Dotty, you just couldn’t help it. Her beautiful exterior paled in comparison to her inner beauty. Her smile and laughter always made any setting more enjoyable. Simply her presence made everything more enjoyable whether it was playing a game, walking the dog, taking a bike ride, enjoying a day at the beach, watching a sporting event on TV, any celebration or holiday, any meal any time of the day, or especially just simply watching sunset every night. She was a devoted wife and mother who raised a beautiful loving family and supported her husband and children and grandchildren in every endeavor of their lives. We all are the true beneficiaries of her hard work and labor of love. She was a devote catholic and boundless servant of our God, our Country, our Family and our Community. She loved her husband of 63 years more than anything, she loved her children and grandchildren and extended family and was so proud of her entire family.
Her children always felt she was the best mom they could ever imagine, but with age and perspective, they truly came to realize just how special and how rare and unique of a person she really was. That reality grew even stronger the past few years as they watched her care for Michael while at the same time battling cancer. None of us can truly put into words the respect we will always have for her values, courage, and grace throughout it all, and we are all so proud of her!
She made an impact on so many lives and she will be remembered as a sweet and loving person. Like her husband Michael, she lived life to the fullest and a life that mattered. She will be missed immensely by her children, grandchildren, and friends, but we all need to carry on and live life’s wonderful journey as she did, and simply try to live with as much grace and joy for life as she did, and as she would have wanted us to.
Dorothy is survived by her four children, Patricia (Chris) Atkin, Catherine Ingram, John, Daniel and her four grandchildren, Sean & Michael Ingram and Taylor & Blake Atkin, her sisters Mary Gorman, Ruth (Jack) Rennie, Peggy (Lee) Bosely and her golden retriever, Sandy.
Here is a short video of memories since we are unable to be together. video