Photo by Hailey Wagner, courtesy of Unsplash.
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Dorothea Ann Pelley, 101, of East Greenwich, passed away peacefully on January 5, 2022, after a short period of declining health. A lifelong Rhode Islander, she was a proud centenarian, a 32-year veteran employee of the East Greenwich Free Library, and most of all, a beloved mother of four, grandmother of ten, and great-grandmother of ten.
Dorothea was born in Natick, Rhode Island (a village in West Warwick) on February 29, 1920. She was the second of four children to Max and Alice Gebler. In 1926, the family moved to East Greenwich, where the children’s chores included helping their father make sauerkraut and beer in the basement, as well as tending a large vegetable garden. There was no car, no TV, and a milkman delivered glass bottles to their door.
Dorothea graduated from the East Greenwich Academy in 1937, and then the Edgewood Secretarial School. She got her first job as a sales clerk at F.W. Woolworth during the Great Depression. Her next position was as a secretary at a bank in Providence where she unknowingly bumped a bar under her desk, causing gun toting police to rush in looking for a robbery. After that day, whenever Dorothea needed to stretch her legs, she left her desk.
In 1942, during World War II, Dorothea married Floyd Grant Pelley of Warwick, and as the war intensified, she followed her husband to U.S. Air Force postings in Louisiana, Florida, Nebraska, and Alamogordo, New Mexico. It was while they were in Alamogordo, on July 16, 1945, that the atomic bomb was first detonated. Less than a month later, after two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, the war ended.
Returning to Rhode Island and the Warwick-East Greenwich area, Dorothea and Floyd built a home and raised their four children there. She participated in the Girls Scouts and Boys Scouts, and was a long-time member of the East Greenwich United Methodist Church. In 1965, she went to work at the East Greenwich Free Library, where she had been a card holder since the age of seven. She became Chief Book Cataloguer, learning how to use a computer as the card catalogue was rendered obsolete. She worked at the library for 32 years, finally retiring at 77 years old as Administrative Assistant to the Library Director.
Floyd and Dorothea were married for almost 44 years. He died in 1986, and she continued to live in their home for a total of 74 years. In her retirement, Dorothea maintained an active social network of friends as well as close ties to her family. She is survived by a sister, Florence Hoblin of Woodstock, VT, and by her children Grant Pelley of North Andover, MA, Susan (Pelley) Kornblum of Natick, MA, Sandra (Pelley) Holloway of Warwick, RI, and Deborah Pelley of Ayer, MA.
A remembrance gathering will be held at a future date. Donations in memory of Dorothea may be made to the Arbor Day Foundation, which will plant trees in areas ravaged by wildfire.
You can leave an online condolence at the funeral home HERE.