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Hard-working mom took time for fun and helping others

October 31, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Dolores Eileen Shipley, who died Oct. 22 at the age of 74. Her obituary appeared in the Oct. 25 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

WILLIAMSPORT - To be remembered for a great laugh might be considered frivolous to some. Dolores Eileen Shipley in all likelihood would have considered that high praise.

In a life filled with children, hard work, some hard times and heartaches, Dolores' laugh was a standout quality that sister-in-law Joyce Barnhart, wife of Dolores' older brother, Donald Barnhart, said she never will forget.

That Dolores could find a reason to laugh while holding down three jobs to put food on the table and sewing her children's clothes to save money was an inspiration to all who knew her.


"My sister would help anyone at any time," Donald said as he and other family members gathered to share their memories of Dolores, who died Oct. 22 at the age of 74.

"Mom had five children and three jobs," said Mary Stoner, her only daughter. "When we were little, she used to work at a hosiery mill and tending bar at the Williamsport Red Men Club. On the weekends, she cleaned houses for people."

For more than 30 years, Dolores worked at Jeanne's Confectionery in Williamsport.

"That was her favorite job, but still she worked other places, too," Mary said.

Mary's overriding memory of her mother was of a happy and fun-loving woman who was able to enjoy life even with the burden of losing two sons and parenting alone after her husband died in 1969.

"I remember she would take one week of vacation and we would have barbecues in the back yard, take walks on the C&O Canal and go on picnics in the park," she said.

Mary and her brothers, Jerry and Tom, shared smiles when talking about their mother.

"She always had an opinion on something," Tom said. That characteristic was apparently known far beyond home and family.

"Childhood was difficult, but we were happy," Mary said. "I didn't understand how exhausted she must have been all the time until I was older."

There also were hours of volunteer work that Dolores did while juggling the rest of her busy schedule.

"She was always doing something for other people," Jerry said.

During her illness, Dolores was presented with a huge get-well card that the family kept.

"I think the whole town signed it," Jerry said.

After retiring from Jeanne's in 1998, Dolores volunteered at the senior center and helped with Meals on Wheels.

"Even when she went on oxygen full time, mom would sling that oxygen pack over her shoulder, walk up to the center and then home," Mary said.

Dolores' interest in the Hagerstown Suns emerged later in her life, waning in the 1990s when the team ended its affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles.

"She was a season ticket holder when the Suns were with the Orioles," Mary said. During that time, Dolores rented out rooms to Suns players during the season.

Her brother, Donald, said his sister heard from some of those players years afterward. A scrapbook in the family living room is packed with pictures of players, cards and letters Dolores received from "her boys."

As the only daughter, Mary spent a lot of time with her mother as her health declined.

"I moved in with mom after her throat surgery," she said.

At the end, Mary stayed at the house until Dolores passed away.

"It's going to be hard getting used to not coming here anymore," Mary said as the reality of life without her mother began to sink in.

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