Dorothy H Hastings, also affectionately known by her family as Auntie DoDo, departed this world on January 20 at the age of 103 years young.
One might think that there would be no tears shed for someone that had lived that long, but Auntie DoDo was no ordinary woman. At the age of 3, she was stricken with spinal meningitis that left her totally deaf. Her parents, Helen & Robert Hastings of Holyoke, MA, sacrificed a great deal to send her to Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, MA. Clarke taught children with hearing disabilities to use the oral method of reading lips, speech, and mimicking the mouth shapes and breathing patterns of speech, known as oralism. This method was taught so their students would be better able to understand and adapt to the hearing world. This involved Auntie DoDo spending 24/7 at Clarke during the school years from age 5 to 18. At her graduation from Clarke School, Helen Keller was the keynote speaker and challenged and encouraged all of the graduates to set high goals and to reach any dream they had.
As a result of her schooling at Clarke, she ventured into the world with a zest of excitement and adventure. She was able to do anything a hearing person could do. She never considered herself to be disabled. She traveled all over the world to see national parks & points of interest and ski. She loved to ski when she traveled and kept up her passion for skiing well into her 60s until she broke her leg. Her world traveling didn’t end until she was in her early 90s.
She was a pioneer for the deaf community in communications and had one of the first teletype machines in her home. She also learned to sign with her non-oral deaf friends. Auntie attended her favorite Camp Mark Seven in the Adirondacks in Old Forge, NY every summer. CM7 is a welcoming retreat offering a vast array of life-affirming educational, recreational and spiritual programs for the deaf. She created her own Movie Club held at her house for her deaf friends and was able to acquire a machine that interpreted the dialect from the movie onto the screen – what we now know as closed caption. Ella Grasso, Governor of CT in the mid-70s, appointed Auntie DoDo to serve as member of the Board of Trustees at the Mystic Oral School from 1976-79. Auntie DoDo was the first deaf person to be hired by Mother Aetna in 1943. She worked as a Key Punch Operator for 37 years.
Auntie DoDo will always be best remembered for was her absolute love of family. She never married, she devoted her life to taking care of her Mom. The love she gave to others came back ten-fold as was plain to see in the number of family and friends that absolutely adored her and always wanted to be in her presence.
She was the Cool Auntie, the Class Clown, the Super Creative Arts & Craft Auntie, the adventurous one that would try anything once.
She was devoted and had deep faith in her Catholic upbringing. She was very involved in the West Hartford Catholic Deaf Community where she attended Mass for the Deaf and taught Communion and Confirmation classes to deaf children. Perhaps this is where her love for Angels began. Angels adorned her home in many forms. She was very proud of the framed needlepoint angels she had created and her family always anxiously awaited to see her angel decorated Christmas tree.
Auntie loved animals. She loved telling the story of her first dog, Sarge, who disappeared one day only to find his picture on the front page of the newspaper when he landed in jail. Luckily Sarge was returned. Although she had many dogs in her life, her most beloved dog was a black lab named Trooper.
She had the patience of Job and when in her presence, she made you feel like you were the most important person in her life.
Auntie was blessed to have been able to live in beautiful Fullerton, CA her last 7 years with her baby Sister, Helen Pesci. Helen’s children were Auntie’s West Coast Angels and took such good care of her and made sure that Auntie DoDo always had whatever she wanted to make her happy and comfortable. Nephews & Nieces Chuck & Louisa Pesci & family and Mike & Johanna Pesci were devoted in their care of Auntie DoDo.
Auntie DoDo’s siblings & in-laws that were waiting to welcome her into Heaven were Kay & Jack Funke, Charles & Susan Hastings and Rudy Pesci.
Auntie’s East Coast Angels, where she lived for the first 96 years of her life are: Bob & Deb Funke, Betty-Jean & Leo Conlon, Rick & Deb Funke, Jo Ellen Katz & Gary Lull, Terry Funke, Chris & Christina Hastings, Sue & Warren Van Dyke & Mark & Liz Hastings.
Auntie’s West Coast Angels, where she spent her last 7 years of life are: Chuck & Louisa Pesci, Mike & Johanna Pesci, Robert Hastings, Kate & Skip Carbone, Robert & Jean Pesci, and Terri & John Jaster,
Great Auntie DoDo played a very significant & memorable role in the life of her 31 Great Nieces & Nephews. From waking them up to see the excitement and joy in their eyes on Christmas mornings, to the countless arts & crafts sessions, to watching all of their recitals, plays, soccer, basketball, baseball, and hockey games, she didn’t miss a one.
Auntie adored all 13 of her Great Great Nieces & Nephews and many of them got to meet her and spend quality time with her. If she didn’t get to meet them, the pictures of her brand new ones that were sent to Auntie made her day.
John F Tierney Funeral Home in Manchester CT is in charge of her arrangements. There will be a funeral at Assumption Church on May 28 followed by burial at Mount St Benedict Cemetery in Bloomfield CT.
Memorial donations can be made in Auntie DoDo’s name to either:
Mark Seven Deaf Foundation, c/o Kelly Lange, P.O. Box 840313, St. Augustine, FL 32080
Clarke Schools for Hearing & Speech, 45 Round Hill Rd, Northampton, MA 01060