Eleanor Trapnell Hilleary Dorsey Dosh, 91, bakery manager, landlord

April 03, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Eleanor Trapnell Hilleary Dorsey Dosh, who oversaw a bakery's retail operation and later managed her real estate investments, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at Bon Secours Hospital. The Catonsville resident was 91.

Known as Polly, she was born in Montclair, N.J., and earned an English literature degree from Hollins College in Roanoke, Va. She later studied at the Johns Hopkins University.

In 1936, Mrs. Dosh was hired at the old Hutzler's department store on Howard Street to supervise its telephone home-shopping service. When she decided to leave in 1941 to get married, company president Albert Hutzler went to her office and said, "Miss Trapnell, we are sorry to see you leave, but if you ever want to come back, there will always be a place for you."

In 1941, she married John Alexander Hilleary. The couple had two children before they got a divorce.

In 1950, she was hired on the spot when she applied for a position at the old Rice's Bakery, according to a family memoir. She first oversaw a staff at 12 retail shops, but her responsibilities grew over the years as the company opened additional stores.

She wrote a training manual that she said "incorporated much of the idealism and business acumen of Emery Rice," the bakery's president. She eventually oversaw management of the bakery's 25 neighborhood stores. She resigned in 1965, several years before the business closed.

Mrs. Dosh enjoyed travel. But family members said that after an airplane trip to California in 1936, she refused to fly again and returned to Baltimore by sailing through the Panama Canal.

In later years she sailed on the old Konigstein, France and Queen Elizabeth II, as well as the "banana boats" operated by the United Fruit Lines.

"She was truly an amazing lady. She had a great sense of humor," said the Rev. William H.C. Ticknor, rector of St. James' Parish in Lothian, where her funeral was held yesterday.

"She wanted to know more about you. She was never interested in tooting her own horn, and she saw everyone in the same light. She was also the only person I've known who regularly used five names -- and I learned them by heart."

Mrs. Dosh began investing years ago in Baltimore real estate. She bought a home in the Pinehurst section of North Baltimore and acquired residential rental properties in Catonsville and Anne Arundel County.

"She was very entrepreneurial," said her son, Scott Trapnell Hilleary of Catonsville. "She was frugal, and when times were tight in the 1930s, she made prudent investments in real estate."

She oversaw her rental properties and would not raise rent if she approved of the way her tenants behaved, family members said.

In 1963, she married Hammond Pendleton Dorsey, a lawyer who owned a 23-acre tract on South Chapel Gate Lane in Southwest Baltimore. The land is known today as the Pine Crest Arboretum.

Less than three months after their wedding, Mr. Hammond suffered a fatal heart attack while cutting a winter wheat crop at his uncle's farm in Howard County.

Mrs. Dosh had the John Deere tractor he was operating when he died taken to Pine Crest and placed on its lawn, where relatives said it is still used.

She later gave an easement on the tract to the Maryland Environmental Trust to preserve it from development and to honor her late husband.

In 1965, Mrs. Dosh became a social worker and helped senior citizens at the Howard County Department of Social Services in Ellicott City. She retired in 1976.

That same year, she married Dr. Stanley Hyde Dosh, a longtime University of Maryland Dental School professor. He died in 1989.

On her 90th birthday, celebrated at a garden party, she said, "I have had three marriages, experiencing the worst of marriages, the best of marriages and [the] mediocrity."

She was a member of the National Society of Colonial Dames and the Soldiers Delight Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She also belonged to the Jefferson County, W.Va., Historical Society and the Catonsville Woman's Club.

Besides her son, survivors include another son, John Thornton Hilleary of Catonsville.

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