Delores “Dolly” Harmon has left a legacy in the world – not a legacy of money or art or political power, but a legacy of people and of love. The mother of twelve, grandmother of twenty-three, and great-grandmother of twenty-seven, Dolly spent her time on this earth building a family. Looking back at her life, most people will agree that this was the wisest choice of all. The love, kindness, and care she selflessly gave to her loved ones was returned to her one hundred times over, and she spent her long and happy life surrounded by her beloved family members.
Proud parents Gioacchino “Jack” and Helen (Marx) Randazzo welcomed their second child into the world on January 23, 1928. A beautiful baby girl, they christened her Delores Rose, although before long she would be known to friends and family alike as “Dolly.” Dolly had one sibling waiting for her at home, Marion, and three more on the way in years to come, Arline, Helen and Vince (“Jack”). The Randazzo family lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Jack owned a barber shop. Dolly’s mother, Helen, stayed at home to take care of the children and manage the household. Dolly grew up on 12th and State Street, and her best childhood friend was a girl called “PeeWee.” When she was old enough to go to school, Dolly was enrolled at Gesu School, which she attended through the seventh grade. Even though she was born and raised in America, Dolly always treasured her Italian heritage. This may have dated from childhood trips to West Allis, Wisconsin, to visit her Italian grandparents. Her grandmother cooked abundant Italian meals, and called her granddaughter “Rosa.”
As Dolly gradually left childhood behind her, she grew into a lovely and vivacious young woman. In her teenage years, she spent many happy hours with her good friends, Meryl and Darlene. One of their favorite hobbies was dancing, and they sometimes went out to the Eagles’ Club Ballroom in the evenings. Dolly’s youth and beauty naturally turned heads, and one evening at the Club she met the young man who would eventually steal her heart, Ernest Harmon. Ernest and Dolly hit it off right away, and it wasn’t long before their friendship deepened into romance. Ernest proposed to Dolly, and on a balmy summer day in 1945 the young couple was united in holy matrimony.
Dolly and Ernest settled down to raise a family in their hometown of Milwaukee. They both loved children, and decided they wanted to have a large family. Over the years, they were blessed by the births of twelve children: Delores, Ernest, Colleen, Douglass, Edward, Danny, Glen, Jeffery, Timothy, Terry, Tad, and Tammie. It’s not surprise that raising twelve children kept Dolly quite busy. In fact, when asked what hobbies or interests their mother had in those days, her children simply replied, “She had twelve children!” Dolly was a caring and dedicated mother, who dealt out love and affection most of the time, and also swift justice when warranted. When one of the children was misbehaving, Dolly often went through a litany of names along the lines of “Doug, Jeff, Ernie, Danny—you know who I mean!” when tracking down the guilty party.
As her children grew older and left the nest one by one, Dolly had more free time to explore her own hobbies and interests. She enjoyed traveling, and one of her favorite trips was a month spent living in Sicily, Italy. She also went to Disney Land, Disney World, and a Christmas Hawaiian cruise, as well as many trips to visit her children as they scattered across the continental U.S. When at home, Dolly loved watching old movies, especially those starring George Raft, Nelson Eddy, Jeanette MacDonald, Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. When she watched movies, Dolly inevitably referred to the villain of the piece as “a horse’s neck.” She also enjoyed paging through gossip magazines and movie star biographies from the forties and fifties.
Dolly Harmon was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Outgoing, kind and generous, she will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by her many friends and family members.
Dolly was born to eternal life on February 29, 2012, at the age of eighty-four. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ernest; her son, Tad; and her sisters, Helen Randazzo and Marion LeClair. She was the beloved mother of Delores (the late Jack) Kufahl, Ernest (Cheryl), Colleen (David) Moy, Douglass, Edward (Denita), Danny (Marilyn), Glen (Susan), Jeffery (Robin), Timothy (Cynthia), Terry (Donald) Engram, and Tammie Harmon, and the loving sister of Arline Fiebrink and Vince “Jack” Randazzo. She is further survived by 23 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great-grandchild, and other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be held at Three Holy Women Parish – St. Hedwig Church, 1702 N. Humboldt Ave., on Friday, March 2, 2012, from 4:00 p.m. until time of the Funeral Mass at 7:00 p.m. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery. Please visit Dolly’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can learn more about her life, archive a memory or photo, and sign the online guestbook.