Dorothy Agnes Dellwo, known as Mama Dot to those who mattered most, passed away in her home on Wednesday, March 17, 2020. Her bags were packed, and she took that final flight to be reunited with her best friend and husband Eldon, and their fur companion Cookie, to continue their love story.
Born December 4, 1926, in the quiet town of Ronan, MT, she became 1 of 10 siblings born to Nicholas and Regina Dellwo. Though she was born a twin, the family experience hardship when Dorothy’s brother Joseph died as an infant. Dorothy’s mother was lucky to have the help of Grandma and Grandpa Trahan to raise such a large family, and were a big part of Dorothy and her sister Loretta, as well as their close cousin Raymond’s lives. A special bond blossomed between Dorothy and Loretta; she was a role modeland mother figure that Dorothy remained close to the rest of her life. In 1943 Dorothy graduated from Ronan High School, both as a cheerleader and an honor roll student. Before she knew he was the love of her life, Dorothy attended school with Eldon Long,and upon his return from serving his country in World War II, they started dating. On February 27, 1947, these two love birds tied the knot, and began their 72 years of marriage. 4 beautiful children were born; Bonnie, Barbara, Patti, and Mike. Earning her name as Mama Dot, Dorothy was a wonderful homemaker and mother, running a busy household while Eldon provided for his family as a Flight Service Chief. Mama Dot never missed her children’s activities, she attended every game, every academic event for each of her children. She led the baseball league’s Mothers Association, volunteering at and attending every game to watch Mike playfrom Little League, Bath Ruth to American Legion State Championship; 284 games is a lot of games as his biggest supporter and dedicated fan. She also found joy and community serving the holy spirit for weddings and funerals as a faithful volunteer in her Catholic church. Her eldest child, Bonnie, was someone Dorothy held in the highest regard. They were very close, and Dorothy and Eldon were grateful for her dependability. Bonnie was the matriarch of their little family.
Dorothy and Eldon moved their small brood often with each professional promotion he achieved. Dorothy called her husband a gypsy, as they created memories in each new town they called home; from Ronan to Missoula, to Great Falls to Billings, to Miles City and Williston, North Dakota, all the way down to Farmington, New Mexico and back to Billings; to their last move after finally retiring, Missoula. She was the glue that kept them together as they packed their “wagons” over and over again. Dorothy was a great example of a well known saying, “Strong women are not born, strong women are made.” She was a survivor; living through 2 rounds of breast cancer, becoming a double mastectomy survivor, overcoming macular degeneration, and recovering from numerous strokes and other medical complications. But after all of that hard ship, she practiced what she preached, “Don’t forget to say your prayers!”
Raising a family on a shoestring budget, Dorothy kept their home warm and welcoming, and provided everything her family needed; a favorite meal, a word of encouragement, a clean pair of socks. She was everything a mom should be and more. Family was important. The Dellwo/Long relatives were all very special to her. Summer vacations were often spent in Ronan/Missoula reconnecting with the extended family, and spending quality time together.
Dorothy was known to give advice and guidance, great one liners we all need to hear from time to time. “One day at a time.” “Are you hungry? You better eat something.” “You gotta do what you gotta do!” “What are you looking for? What time of the day is it?”, “Make sure you scrub everywhere.” If someone was taking longer than she expected, she’d make sure to check in on you, no matter where you were. (outside the bathroom door), ”Are you alright in there?” She had her quirks, and would have lived well in the Sahara Desert, possibly the Bahamas; “Can we have a little heat? Boy that heat feels good.”, “Where’s that breeze coming from? Can you shut that fan off? Are we living with a bunch of Eskimos? Sure is chilly in here. I am going to just stay home by the fire.” She was a great listener, someone you could share with when you needed it most, and someone you could count on to pray for your troubles. She wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of, especially her faithful fur companion Cookie, “Did Cookie get her pill?”
Eldon and Dorothy were able to remain in their home until the end of their days, thanks to their caretakers, especially their great grandson Gavin. He was always there for both Pa n Ma. He loved them dearly and they loved and appreciated his dedication thru the hard times and as Eldon The Great said “Gavin, you wanted to help us, you hugs us, cared for us and did not leave, thank you from the bottom of our heart” from Ma n Pa. The family will remember the little things, things that make you chuckle, ”Gavin, CAN I have a SWALLOW of water? Gavin,CAN I go to the bathroom? CAN I go to bed?” “Michael! Get in here your mother needs you!”
For 93 years Mama Dot was on this earth, and the world was a better place with her in it. The end of her days were tough, and the family is blessed to have had thehelp and support of dedicated family and friends, to be there through it all for Dorothy and her family. People who were here for the tough times were lucky to have these last moments with Eldon and Dorothy. Dorothy was Mama Dot, Mother Dearest, Ma, Grandma, Great Grandma, Dotty, and her husband Eldon’s best friend. Thank you to the people who made her final days a little bit brighter; Great Grandson/caregiver Gavin, Corky and Joni, Buddy and Chantelle, Noel and Steff, Mary Ann, Nina, Beverly, Tommy, Buster, Rusty, Raymond. Thanks to all of the staff and Partners in Care from Missoula Senior Aging, Kati, Kathy, Evelyn, Marilee, Harmony, Elie, Danny, Terry and Chaplin Jack. Special thanks to Bonnie’s family, the Powell’s; they were a big part of the happiness and love Dorothy and Eldon were blessed to have. Bonnie would be so proud. Thank you to Marla, Mike’s faithful wife, for the patience and understanding while Mike was caring for his parents away from home.
Special thanks to Morgan Ditto-Kirkwood (Michael’s Niece) for preparing this loving tribute to Ma.Dorothy was preceded in death by her oldest daughter Bonnie, granddaughter Naomi, her loving and dedicated husband Eldon, and their great loyal companion Cookie; her best friend Merle Naylor, The Long’sadopted uncle Vince Filimon, her parents and all of her siblings. Dorothy is survived by her little man “Sonny” Mike, her favorite daughter in law Marla, son in law and second son Victor Powell, Barb and Pattie Ann, 10 grandkids, 18 great grandkids, many nieces and nephews, cousins, and special friends.
To all of the family and friends, Dorothy would want you to know she loved and cherished each and every one of you. She would tell you, “I love you with all my cotton pickin’ heart!”Due to the current status of our community working to minimize the spreadof Coronavirus, a private graveside service was held at Ronan Cemetery, laying Dorothy to rest among her relatives and close to her sister Loretta. A memorial celebration will be held sometime this summer when we are all in a healthier place.We will miss you Ma, and yes we won’t forget, “Say your prayers!”