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Nickerson Funeral Home

77 Eldredge Park Way, Orleans, MA

OBITUARY

Elizabeth Hochreiter Dunn

September 13, 1921February 13, 2020
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Elizabeth (Betty) H. Dunn,  98, of  Brewster, Massachusetts, passed away on February 13, 2020.

The funeral service will be held Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 11 am  at  St. Joan of Arc Church in Orleans, Massachusetts.  Visitation will be held Monday, Feb. 17, 5-7 pm at  Nickerson Funeral Home in Orleans. Burial will follow the funeral at  Massachusetts National Cemetery  at  1 pm Tuesday.

Elizabeth  was born in  Lincoln, Nebraska,  on  Sept. 13, 1921.  She  graduated from  Lincoln High School and continued on to receive a  bachelor’s of science and home economics degree  from  University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Elizabeth was married to  Joseph F. Dunn  on  Feb. 12, 1945. During a marriage that spanned 56 years until Joseph’s death in 2001, they lived in Nebraska, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Texas. They retired in 1981 to their summer home on Cape Cod.

Following college graduation, Elizabeth  worked as a  dietician at the University of Nebraska campus, planning and providing meals for servicemen during World War II. She was the mother of six children, worked as a home economics teacher, and later was assistant town clerk in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.

She  enjoyed  sewing, quilting, rug-hooking, painting, gardening, gourmet cooking, and travel.  She  also was actively involved in her sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, serving as her chapter’s president for a number of years, as well as the women’s club at her church, and Bridge groups. She loved telling stories.

Elizabeth  is survived by  her six children: Patricia Meneghelli (Lance), Marguerite Hankowski (Alan), Elizabeth Dunn (Anthony Goder), Joseph Dunn (Gary Gates), Kathleen Dunn Jacobs (David Miller), Peter Dunn (Heather); six grandchildren: Kathleen Weyer, Angela Dufresne, Suzanne Meneghelli, Alexander Hankowski, Katherine Hankowski, Christina Hankowski; great grandchildren: Elizabeth Weyer, Virginia Weyer, Alice Hankowski, William Hankowski, several nieces and nephews, and other family and friends.

Elizabeth  is preceded in death by husband Joseph, parents Otto and Katherine Hochreiter, siblings Mary Steinauer, Katharine Ochsenbein, Marguerite Stanley, Otto Hochreiter, and Max Hochreiter.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105 (www.stjude.org) or Catholic Charities, 1600 Bay Street, PO Box M/So. Station, Fall River, MA 02724 (https://www.cssdioc.org/monetary-giftsonline-donation/).

Services

  • Calling Hours Monday, February 17, 2020
  • Funeral Mass Tuesday, February 18, 2020
  • Burial Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Memories

Elizabeth Hochreiter Dunn

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Biography

Peter’s Eulogy for Mom. February 17, 2020

I want to first of all thank Father Bill for celebrating our mother’s incredible life at St Joan of Arc, which means a lot to my wife, Heather, and me since we were married here 26 years ago. Our mother and father attended mass here for many years, and they had a great fondness for this beautiful church, and were here when Father Andrews first opened it. Thank you, Father.

I will always think of our mother, Elizabeth, as a woman of faith. And I consider it the most important gift that she and my father ever gave me. And being a woman of faith, she was acutely aware that many things in life were out of her control. She often said “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.” But there is no question that Mom was one of those rare people who seemed in complete control. She had a charmed life. She made it look so easy.

But like all of us, there were many aspects to Mom. She was a daughter, a sister, a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother and a friend. Some people seem to change over the years and adopt different personas as they age. I’m not judging this. It’s just that some older women and men take on the persona of the “old lady” or the “old man.” Mom entirely skipped that stage of life.

Although her body began to fail a few years back, she somehow reached the age of 98 without ever seeming like an “old lady,” and managed to avoid all clichés of aging. As one example, at the age of 86, she joined Heather, Betsy, and me in Hong Kong and lived with us for a month there. She always loved an adventure, and she lived her life as one great adventure. She said to Betsy and Heather prior to the trip, “Look, if I die in Hong Kong for some reason, just pack me up and ship me home. Don’t worry about me traveling so far at my age. I want to do this.” She absolutely loved Hong Kong and seeing this exotic city and eating all the wonderful food and buzzing around in taxis and the subway and walking everywhere.

She said to me more than once that she always felt a little sorry for people who remained in the same place their whole lives. She and our dad lived in Lincoln, Nebraska when they were married, then Boston, Watertown, Natick, Springfield, St Louis, Texas City, Wilbraham and Wellfleet here on the Cape. Later in life she our dad traveled extensively to California to escape the winters and spend time with Joe and Gary, and truly loved their time there. They traveled to Spain, Mexico, Portugal, and Costa Rica. Mom often told me their favorite country to visit was Mexico, primarily because they loved the Mexican people. I have a favorite photograph of Mom and Dad dancing with locals in Guadalajara.

We all seem to know a lot about Mom’s childhood. It’s because mom was a master storyteller and retained a nearly photographic memory of her youth and stories about her parents, her brothers and sisters, cousins, friends, and teachers. She was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1921 into a loving family, the youngest of six. Her house was the epicenter for extended family who would often stay there while visiting Lincoln. In those days, most people didn’t stay in hotels. They stayed with family, and her family’s house was the place to stay in Lincoln. Her big sister, our Aunt Sissie, would take her to movies regularly where they would see double features. But she spoke often and fondly of all her brothers and sisters: Sis, Otto, Mary, Marguerite and Max and her Aunt Vee and Uncle Pete, whom she was also especially close to. They lived in town, so they could walk everywhere in Lincoln. She loved her childhood and spoke often of the dinners her mom would cook. How her dad was often traveling for work and working on his car on Saturdays to keep it working in tip-top shape. They gardened and kept chickens in the backyard. Her father played the piano, and she loved it when he would play while she was upstairs falling asleep.

But she was a strong-willed child. A favorite small story of Mom is when an older cousin of hers was baby-sitting her for the day and offered to buy her an ice cream cone. My mom said, “No thank you.” But her older cousin said, “Well of course you want an ice cream Betty,” and bought her an ice cream cone anyway. Mom simply held it and let it melt in her hand all over her arm without taking a lick. Her cousin was flabbergasted. But when Betty said, “No thank you,” she meant it.

She was the first and only member in her immediate family to finish four years of college, attending The University of Nebraska at their main campus in Lincoln. She lived at home, and committed every day to the University and loved it. She was active in her sorority and thrived. Not long after graduating, WWII broke out. The local priest organized a dance at the Knights of Columbus Hall, telling the young women that there were a bunch of lonely, sad Catholic soldiers staying at the base nearby and he wanted them to help them schedule a dance. This clever priest then went to the base and told the men that there were some pretty, but lonely Catholic young local women and he needed their help to cheer them up. Mom and Dad met at that dance. My father was stationed there as a 1st Lieutenant in The Army Air Corps (a precursor to what is now the Air Force). Sparks flew and six months later, they were married. Nine months after that, Trisha was born. A honeymoon baby.

Our Dad hit the jack pot with our mom. Everyone knows what a looker she was. She was stunningly beautiful. But more important to my Dad, she was even more beautiful on the inside. They both would often say to me that it was the luck of the draw that it all worked out, since they didn’t know each other very long before marrying. But I like to think it was pre-ordained. My father had a nice childhood, but lost his mother when he was 17, and it hurt him and his sister greatly. Luck had nothing to do with it. Mom was, quite literally, the answer to Dad’s prayers. He often told my mom he wanted them to fill a pew at church with kids. And they certainly achieved that.

As a mother, I think Kathy put it best: Mom just let us be. She let us be ourselves and loved us all individually and unconditionally. It was remarkable to be her child. She was unflappable. She was kind and loving all the time yet, 100% non-mushy. As a child, I think about once a week, someone would say how beautiful and amazing my mom was. And they’re still saying it.

She made you feel that you could do or become anything you wanted to become in life. A grandmother at the age of 47, she was incredibly proud of all her children and grandchildren, and spoke often of all of us: Trisha, Marg, Betsy, Joe, Kathy and me…..all of us. Without pushing faith on us, she led by example. She cared for the weak, the poor, the people who didn’t have anything. Instead of judging people’s position in life, she always spoke from a position of true empathy and love. She knew how lucky she was.

As magnetic as she was, she had no interest in superficial social climbing. She loved people and loved meeting new people. An avid reader, she kept a log of every book she read and her own personal review of each book, that she willingly shared with anyone interested. Many of my favorite books were recommendations from Mom. She never just watched TV. She was always working on a project like a rug or a quilt simultaneously, and she usually had a cat or kittens snuggling up to her. A creative powerhouse, she hooked countless beautiful woolen rugs, created trunks full of stunning quilts, and was active in local rug hooking and quilting guilds here on the Cape. She was a terrific cook and baker, passing on her passion of cooking and good food to all of her kids and grandkids.

It’s the smaller moments that I will think of the most:

Driving me to my swimming classes at Gull Pond in Wellfleet when I was a young boy.
The long summer days in Wilbraham and always being there after I had spent the day playing with the neighborhood gang.
The tireless help she would give me in writing an important term paper.
The long talks each Sunday with Heather and me by the fire in our kitchen in Orleans.

I know she did this kind of thing for all of her children.

Mom had zero fear of death. She loved life, but couldn’t wait to find out what’s on the other side. She was always ready for the next trip.

There is a Neil Young song that always makes me think of our Mom and Dad. Here are a few of the lyrics that help bring a smile to me whenever I listen to it:

Mama’s waiting,
at the top of the hill.
They’ll be laughing,
oh the stories they’ll tell….

When he holds her
in his arms again.
They’ll be sweethearts,
They’ll have time on their hands.


God bless you Mom.