Palmina Domenica DeWald, 88, Mayfield homemaker

November 17, 2003|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Palmina Domenica DeWald, a devoted mother and homemaker whose advice and comfort was often sought by her family, died Wednesday at a nursing home in East Amherst, N.Y., of complications from a broken leg. The Lakeside resident was 88.

Palmina Domenica Caprarola was born to immigrant Italian parents and raised on Milton Avenue in East Baltimore. She was the second youngest of seven children.

After completing two years of high school, she worked at Gutman's department store in downtown Baltimore. She married Charles G. DeWald, a thoroughbred horse trainer, in 1937. The newlyweds attended the historic race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral at Pimlico Race Course a year later.

"That was a big day, 40 million Americans were tuned in, and I understand they got there just in time," recalled her son, James Christian DeWald of Lakeside, who heard the story from his parents. "They hadn't even taken a seat and they just saw them running down the backstretch. It looked like one big horse. It was probably one of the biggest events they ever attended."

Mrs. DeWald raised the couple's three sons in East Baltimore, then in the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Mayfield, where they settled on Chesterfield Avenue in 1953.

James DeWald said his mother retained the habits of fastidious housekeeping that she and her neighbors practiced in East Baltimore. Twice a year, she and other homemakers on Chesterfield Avenue showed off gleaming windows and spotless houses. "She was very religious about keeping things clean and good-looking but not in an ostentatious way," James DeWald said.

In addition to caring for her family and friends, Mrs. DeWald enjoyed watching political and news shows - particularly if they focused on Democrats, the party to which she had a lifetime affiliation. She loved eating out, movies, dinner theaters and music - especially songs by artists such as Mario Lanza, Pavarotti and Liberace.

After her husband died in 1998, Mrs. DeWald lived at the Edenwald retirement community for a year and a half. In 2000, she received a diagnosis of lower-abdominal cancer and moved into the Lakeside home of two sons, James and Robert Eugene DeWald. She made frequent trips to East Amherst, N.Y., to visit her eldest son, Charles G. DeWald Jr. and his wife, Susan. Mrs. DeWald was visiting them two months ago when she fell and broke her leg. She remained in New York for treatment.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Schimunek Funeral Home, 9705 Belair Road in Perry Hall.

In addition to her sons, she is survived by two grandchildren, a great-grandson and numerous nieces and nephews.

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