BERNE — To succeed at Pitch, a card-game of trumps and bids, one needs to be a keen player and a dedicated worker. Dorothy Lorraine Willsey was both.
Mrs. Willsey died peacefully after a long illness on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013.
The daughter of Chester E. and Sarah Eva Thompkins Pitcher, Mrs. Willsey was born in Albany on April 8, 1931. Her father owned a candy and cigarette store on Clinton Avenue in the city.
She was a cheerleader for Berne-Knox High School and played baritone horn in band with her two best friends, Violet and Irene.
Later in life, the three would take road trips every two years to St. Cloud, in central Florida, to visit old relatives. They would play intense card games of Pitch or Rummy.
“It was a standard Willsey game,” Mrs. Willsey’s daughter, Sally Meduna, said of Pitch.
Mrs. Meduna and her brother, Gerald, would come along for the ride, with a cooler full of food and drinks, and a mattress in the folded back seats of their station wagon.
“They didn’t have any deep-seated philosophical discussions. They drank coffee, smoked cigarettes, played cards, and hung out,” her daughter said of the three friends.
Mrs. Willsey met her husband, Clyde Willsey, through Irene, and went back to Berne to live with him after staying with her father in Albany for a few months. They were married in the Knox Reformed Church in 1951.
Church hymns, Christmas carols, and simple 50s tunes were among the organ music Mrs. Willsey played, her daughter said, because she liked to make music, not to perform.
Mrs. Meduna remembered her mother as a hard worker as a nurse’s aid and ward clerk at the Albany VA Medical Center, and at Duke’s Dairy Barn, scooping ice cream and serving hamburgers to teenagers.
Mrs. Willsey worked in the East Berne Fire Auxiliary and was a member of the Thompson Lake Reformed Church.
For her grandchildren, Mrs. Willsey knitted hats and mittens. “Even when she was old, little kids just lit her right up,” Mrs. Meduna said of her mother, who enjoyed watching clips of cute children on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
Mrs. Willsey had a cocker spaniel named Dixie, and later had a gray cat, named Busy, that lived to be 17 years old.
“That cat probably lived most of Moo’s old age,” said her daughter.
She is survived by her husband, Clyde E. Willsey; her children Gerald E. Willsey and his wife, Shirley, Sally Meduna and her husband, Edward; her five grandchildren, Christopher, Desiree, Hillary, Megan, and Emily; her 11 great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren, to whom the family refers to as her “great-greats.”
A service was held on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.
— Marcello Iaia