Pre-deceased by her parents, Bart and Minnie Lane, and by her sisters, Betty and Mary Ellon. Beloved wife of the late Gerald for 60 years. Cherished mother of Carolyn (Sander) Burstein, Tom (Barbara) Denomme, Bill (Patricia) Denomme, Jeanne (Clark) Miller, Mary-Kaye (the late Charlie) Newell, Jim (the late Martha) Denomme, John (Mary) Denomme and Larry (Wendy) Denomme. Adoring Grandmother of Susan, Mark, Amanda, William, Michael, Tom, James, Meighan, Sarah, Matt, Shannon and Melanie. 15 great grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild, and countless loving nieces and nephews.
Dorothy Sarah Lane Denomme was born in a farm house at the corner of Rose and Green Street in New Baltimore, Michigan, to Bart and Minnie Lane, on Christmas Day, 1912. She moved with her family to the east side of Detroit when she was just two years old, so it’s not a stretch to say that she was a life-long Detroiter. In her entire life, she never lived more than a mile from the waterways of the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. She experienced life in what at the time was a rapidly growing, exciting and vibrant city: Belle Isle was her playground; she attended the Young People’s Concerts at Orchestra Hall which were hosted by the then world-famous conductor, Ossip Gabrilovich; she would board the Tashmoo Ferry off of Jefferson Ave. and take a day trip to the exotic shores of Harsen’s Island, which she often did with her father; she could walk straight into the future at the long-closed Electric Park, just blocks from where she lived; she took day trips on the Detroit Interurban Line to visit friends and family back in New Baltimore. Experiences like these helped shape her life-long interests in music, history, geography and the arts. And she loved baseball. She saw the great Ty Cobb play, although she was quick to point out that by that time, he was a player-manager and in her words, “he was pretty much washed up by then.” This provides an insight into her unique personality, and her penchant for speaking the unvarnished truth. She married Gerald Denomme, a French-Canadian, one of ten, during the height of the Great Depression in 1933, and by the mid-1930’s was producing one child roughly every 2.5 years until there were eight. Dorothy and Jerry then spent the next 60 years building a life that, though very hectic at times, was exemplary in its simplicity and balance. She once described a marriage as a “study in mutual tolerance.” But make no mistake, their love for each other was unconditional.
She was smart, attractive, stylish and funny. She was prompt, precise and articulate, with an impeccable sense of fashion. She was a stout Irish Catholic and she had a razor sharp wit. Once, in attempting to describe the appearance of a particular individual whom she observed in a restaurant, she said, “well, all ladies are women, but not all women are ladies.” Another time, she commented about a particularly verbose talking head on TV and said, “You know, there’s a difference between an expert and a know-it-all.” Conversation was pure oxygen for Dorothy, and what a great teacher she had in her father. And, oh, what you could learn by sitting and listening, and listening, and listening. Jerry was a quiet and humble man, and Dorothy more than compensated for his reticence.
She was fair to a fault, and one could not have had a better mom. She was a natural. If she believed you were right, she had your back. If she felt that you were the problem, then you had a problem. She was a great cook, learning traditional French Country style cooking firsthand from her mother. Planning a daily meal for 8-10 people was no easy challenge, especially with a family spoiled by 5-star home cooking every day. We were all well-fed. Her coveted recipe file is now safely in the hands of a certain family member.
After Jerry died in 1993, she pursued her interests in music and history by attending lectures and concerts. She read with abandon and made herself knowledgeable on a myriad of subjects. She was a member of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society and she joined Grosse Pointe Questers 147 to further pursue her interest in history. She eventually became president of her chapter. When Dorothy spoke, they listened. This was talking source material – living history. She remained dear friends with her fellow Questers, and they expressed their admiration for her with an annual tribute on her birthday. She was a member of the St. Paul Altar Society and was a lector at Sunday Mass for many years. Through her involvement with the church, she eventually became an Extraordinary Minister, bringing communion to the homebound. This was an extension of her deeply held Catholic faith, and she did this with unintended irony – she was older than most of her communicants. Her St. Paul family remained good friends with Dorothy as well, and they, too, honored her each year with a birthday breakfast.
At the age of 102 it was time for a new car, so she went to the dealership and picked out a nice shiny PT Cruiser. They weren’t making these anymore, so this was her very first used car. It was unusual for a person of this age to buy just about anything, let alone an automobile. The local news picked up on this through a family member and the purchase was covered by Channel 4 for all the world to see. She was astonished at all the fuss. Even after the age of 100, she continued to enjoy life, and was remarkably self-sufficient. She enjoyed occasional travel during this time to visit family and friends, and she continued to drive until she was nearly 103.
This is but a thimbleful in an ocean of stories, quips, quotes and anecdotes from the life of Dorothy Denomme. If one believes in the promise of heaven and everlasting life, then there’s no doubt that she is with Gerry, Bart and Minnie now. George W. Bush said this at his mother’s funeral: We can no longer touch you, but we can feel you. Dorothy, may you rest in peace.
Loving wife of 60 years to the late Gerald. Cherished mother of Carolyn (Sander) Burstein, Tom (Barbara) Denomme, Bill (Patricia) Denomme, Jeanne (Clark) Miller, Mary-Kaye (the late Charlie) Newell, Jim (the late Martha) Denomme, John (Mary) Denomme and Larry (Wendy) Denomme. Adoring Grandmother of Susan, Mark, Amanda, William, Michael, Tom, James, Meighan, Sarah, Matt, Shannon and Melanie. 15 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild. Visitation Thursday, 2-8 pm at Chas. Verheyden Funeral Home, 16300 Mack, Grosse Pointe Park. Funeral Friday 9:30 Instate with 10:00 am Mass at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church, 157 Lake Shore Rd. Grosse Pointe Farms. Memorial contributions may be sent to The Capuchins, 1820 Mt. Elliott, Detroit, MI 48207. Share a memory at Verheyden.org.