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Dora Delores DeMaso passed away in the early morning hours of Thursday, March 2, 2023. She was born on July 10, 1929 to parents Eliseo L. and Maria O. (DeLorenzo) in Battle Creek, Michigan. It was the first delivery for Dr. Stanley T. Lowe and on her mother’s birthday. Brothers James and Renzi and sisters Madeline and Jane welcomed Dora; Delia joined the family three years later.
As a child, Dora had a beautiful singing voice, loved music (especially opera), and joined a trio while in junior high school. With a shining smile, infectious laugh, quick wit, and curious mind, Dora was an excellent student and enjoyed her studies and her teachers. She graduated from Battle Creek Central High School in 1947, entered the University of Michigan and later awarded a scholarship to the University of Mexico in Mexico City. Courageously, Dora and her sister Jane along with two friends drove to Mexico City in 1948. A proud Wolverine, Dora graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. There have been seventeen University of Michigan graduates in the DeMaso family. She resumed her studies for a Master’s Degree in Education from Western Michigan University.
As a life-long and well-respected educator, Dora began her teaching career with the Department of Defense Schools in Gelnhausen, Germany. While there, she traveled extensively throughout Europe and attended the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina D’Ampezzo, just a short distance from her parents’ hometowns in the Dolomite Mountains. Dora later taught in Venezuela for the families of Standard Oil Company employees. She enjoyed her golf game days in the tropical weather.
She returned to Battle Creek and joined the Battle Creek Public Schools, teaching Spanish to fifth and sixth graders in sixteen elementary and four junior high schools. She developed the Spanish language and culture curriculum for each level and provided her students with first-ever authentic meal experiences at Emilio’s Cocina Mexicana in Battle Creek. The remainder of her teaching career was at Fremont Elementary School. She was a trail-blazing educator, mentoring many future teachers and former students.
Dora was deeply committed to the Battle Creek community and was an active volunteer in her retirement years. She was the recipient of many awards and important leadership positions. Among them: The George Award, The Maria Montessori from the Michigan Sons of Italy, Past President of DKG Alpha Chapter, Past President of Club Italia, Past President of the University of Michigan’s Women’s Group, and Past President of the Battle Creek Chapter of AARP and volunteered at the state offices in Lansing. She taught Spanish to the local ILR program and was an active member in the CAA AAUW, Foster Grandparents Committee, MARSP for Calhoun County, Beta Alpha Epsilon Sorority, Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honors Society, and was a founder of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Dora and her sister Delia operated Friendship Centers in three locations for 12 years. They also generously established endowments to the Battle Creek Community Foundation establishing the Delia M. and Dora D. DeMaso International Fellowship and Travel Scholarship for teachers, Western Michigan University encouraging students to pursue teaching careers, and to the Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools Foundation for tuition support. A beautiful piece of original art they commissioned hangs in Sangren Hall Education building of Western Michigan University.
Dora loved sports – especially “Go Blue” football! She played many golf rounds at the Battle Creek Country Club with her friend and former Latin/Spanish teacher Madge Burnham, the 19th hole at Madge’s fashionable residence. She loved shopping for international items such as clothing, kitchen décor, and foods which she loved to cook. She also loved PBS and Access Vision musical performances. She was a vegetarian for many years but always said it was hard to give up Italian salami! She and her mother celebrated their twin birthdays each year with a Bill Knapp’s “almost free” dinner.
Dora was a beloved daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. Surviving her passing is her sister Delia, fifteen nieces and nephews: Dr. Darleen (Daniel), Dr. Marc (Catherine), Laif (Zoë), James (Jennifer), Rhonda Elaine, Glenn, Dawn (Dennis), Deborah (Wayne), Terrance, Rhonda Mae (James), Roderick (Greta), Robert (Rebecca), John (Pamela), Yvonne (Victor), and Paul (Katie) as well as many great nieces and nephews and cousins in the United States, Italy, France, and the Netherlands, and many good friends.
There will be a private Graveside Service at the Battle Creek Memorial Gardens Gate of Heaven and a private Celebration of Life at the Battle Creek Country Club on July 29, 2023.
Contributions can be made to the Battle Creek Community Foundation to the Delia M. and Dora D. DeMaso International Fellowship and Travel Scholarship.