A vibrant, carefree, and fun-loving woman, Dolores Fee certainly put the sparkle into the world around her. She treasured her family, her friends, and the neighborhood she called home for most of her life, savoring every moment she had to spend with the ones she loved. Dolores devoted her days to nurturing and caring for her husband and children, and things only got better when grandchildren and great-grandchildren arrived. Life will never be the same without her here, but the priceless memories she leaves behind will remain forever near and dear to the hearts and lives of all who were blessed to know and love her.
Dolores was the youngest of three daughters born to Bernard and Rosa (Jurries) Pittman. The family lived in Orient, South Dakota where Dolores’s parents ran the local hotel, which catered to migrant farm workers. Dody found it great fun to poke the backsides of customers sitting on the stools in the dining room with a hat pin, then run off laughing. That is, until Bernand made Dody’s backside a little sore too.
Rosa was a great cook and spent most of her day in the hotel kitchen cooking up great food. Dolores often joked that her mother was a great cook but never had time to teach her the trade secrets. Dolores was not a great cook, admitted it and didn’t care. If you didn’t like what she cooked, you were welcome to eat elsewhere.
Dolores’ sisters, Delphine and Bernadine, were several years older and did not make for great playmates. She found her kindred spirit in her friend Joyce. Dody and Joyce were two peas in a pod who looked so much alike that people in town referred to them as “the twins”. Inseparable, the girls had a carefree life growing up in town. The girls often went to a local barn that was set up with a roller rink where they competed against each other to see who could skate the fastest. Dody and Joyce also walked miles out of town to help a farmer identify which eggs had chicks in them to get rewarded with a nickel for their efforts, which was no small amount during the days of the Great Depression.
Another scheme the two girls had was to go the local barbershop where they would tell the barber to cut their long curls for money. The barber always called Rosa to check before cutting the girls hair, so more often than not, they were refused the haircut, but got the nickel anyway.
After graduating from high school, Dolores left Orient to study nursing at a Catholic teaching hospital. This only ended up lasting a year since she decided to leave school after getting into an argument with the nun and calling her a witch – out of character for Dody – yet a good illustration of her spunk.
WWII brought the Pittman family (minus Bernadine who had married and remained in South Dakota) to Omaha, Nebraska. They settled in a home on California Street. Dody took a job as a file clerk with Mutual of Omaha, where she made the trip to work on foot every day wearing high heels, but she enjoyed the attention of the male passersby. Both Dody and Del had a shoe fetish – each young woman owned over 30 pairs of shoes.
It was through her work at the insurance company that Dody met the young man of her dreams. His name was Kenneth Fee, and they began dating not long after they met. In an attempt to get Dody’s attention, Ken “buzzed” the tall office building one day with his vintage WWII airplane.
One of their favorite things to do together was to play cards, usually rummy, and although Ken almost always left in a huff after losing. Dody remained a card shark throughout her life – it was a great day if you were lucky enough to win a game of cards against her. Ken and Dolores enjoyed double-dating with Jack and Virginia Kinney, who would remain close friends throughout their lives. They attended VFW post dances, picnics and other simple pleasures. Although deeply in love, they dated for 6 years while Ken “sowed his oats”. Finally an ultimatum was issued and Dolores and Ken were married on August 27, 1955, in Omaha.
They moved to upstate New York, where Ken had a job as a newspaper reporter. An opportunity to own a weekly newspaper brought a move to Ohio where Mary was born in March of 1957. One year and one week later, Steven joined the family. With two babies, it was apparent that there was not enough time to operate the newspaper. They moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when Ken accepted a position at the Milwaukee Journal, and they settled into a house on Auer Avenue. Sons Ray and Greg were welcomed into the family in 1959 and 1960, respectively. Dody was a fantastic mother who supported her children in everything they did and was there to help them with their school or other activities as needed. The home on East Auer was the “go-to place” for all neighborhood kids, with a large yard for playing. Dody was a great gardener and used gardening as a respite from four active young children. For years she would plant grass seed in an attempt to grow grass only the hill the 4 kids used to ride their bikes down. Never once did she forbid the kids from riding on the grass. Her beautiful garden was created from castoffs from the local greenhouse and the flowering shrubs that lined the entire length of the yard came from one bush the greenhouse had discarded.
She was frugal and resourceful always watching where the pennies went. As she shopped for groceries weekly, she would be doing a running total of items in the cart. At checkout, she knew exactly how much the bill would be – all without a calculator. A favorite family tale: All four of the kids and several of their friends were having a hot dog lunch. Realizing there was not enough ketchup for all the kids, she added water to the bottle to make it stretch further. Although she thought no one was on to her, it certainly came to light when the lid flew off as she shook it. That was a day to remember as there was watery ketchup covering the kids, the table, the walls, and the ceiling!
After Ken’s death in 2007, Dody stayed in the family home for another six years. She had a wonderful support network of neighbors and friends who made sure the Queen of East Auer was safe. Her daughter stopped to visit one day only to find the postman hanging freshly laundered drapes for her. During the warmer months, Dody enjoyed sitting on her front porch and watching the activities of her neighbors. There was not much that happened that missed Dolores’s eye.
By 2013, Dody’s health had declined to the point where she needed to move – the stairs and maintenance of the family home were just too much to handle. She also suffered with Alzheimer’s disease, and the last several years of Dody’s life were difficult for both her and those who loved her.
All who knew Dolores Fee would agree that there was truly no one like her. Her nephew, Ronnie, described her as a gracious lady. She was hardworking and dedicated to the things she set her mind to, yet she also took the time to enjoy life to the fullest each day. Dolores was never one to worry about building wealth or gaining possessions, rather, she made it her life’s mission to genuinely love all who were within her reach. She will be deeply missed and forever remembered.
Dolores L. Fee died on June 1, 2014. Dody’s family includes her children, Mary (Larre Haack) Dumont, Steven Fee, Ray (Lana) Fee, and Gregory (Kathy) Fee; grandchildren, Jennifer (Chris) Zorzin, David Dumont, Carson Fee, Sarah Fee, Scout Fee, Hailey Fee, and Riley Fee; great-grandchildren, Kayla Marie and Emma Grace; and other relatives and friends. Dolores was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth. Visitation will be held at the Funeral Home Wednesday, June 4 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Funeral Mass 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 5 at Old St. Mary’s Church 844 N. Broadway St. (MEET AT CHURCH). Interment Holy Cross Cemetery. Arrangements provided by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes, Suminski / Weiss, 1901 N. Farwell Ave (414) 276-5122.