Dorothy R. Mohler, Wwii Plane Spotter

April 22, 2009|By JACQUES KELLY

Dorothy R. Mohler, a Catonsville matriarch who left 73 descendants and was a World War II plane spotter, died of kidney failure Sunday at her home. She was 104.

Dorothy Rigg was born in Reading, Pa., and was educated on the campus of the old St. Joseph's College in Emmitsburg from the time she was 9. As a 13 year-old, she met her future husband, Donald I. Mohler, a builder, who was then 23, while on a Thanksgiving visit to Catonsville with a school chum.

"What a crush I had on this older man," she said in a history. "The year I turned 16 he finally noticed me, and we had our first date." They went to the old Miller Brothers Restaurant on Fayette Street in downtown Baltimore. They married in Ephrata, Pa., on Nov. 10, 1923.

During their engagement, her husband, co-owner of Mohler Brothers Realtors, built his bride-to-be a Forest Drive home. The Mohlers outgrew it and in 1936 he constructed another residence on Montrose Avenue. She lived there until her death.

"She truly enjoyed life," said her pastor, the Rev. Christopher J. Whatley, pastor of St. Mark Roman Catholic Church in Catonsville. "She could entertain through a conversation and passed on to her children what it means to be a loving person."

For more than 70 years, she presided at Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations, surrounded by friends and family. She also used the home and its porch for Catonsville Fourth of July parade festivities.

Family members said Mrs. Mohler recalled her role in World War II. Nine days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, she and 18 other Catonsville women joined a local corps of airplane spotters. They climbed a tower on the Rowe estate off Johnnycake Road to watch for enemy planes. She also was a Red Cross volunteer, joining other Catonsville residents to fold linens and bandages for wounded troops.

Because her husband had business dealings with the old Baltimore Transit Co., she and some 52 family members filled a No. 8 streetcar on its final Saturday of operation, Nov. 2, 1963. They rode from Catonsville Junction to Towson and recorded the event on home movies.

Mrs. Mohler was a member of the Volunteer Board at Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore. She also helped establish Loyola College's John R. Mohler Trophy to recognize an outstanding athlete. The trophy is named for her son, who died in 1956.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Mark's chapel, 27 Melvin Ave.

Survivors include two sons, Walter Rigg Mohler of Timonium and James W. Mohler of Catonsville; a daughter, Sally Mohler Norton of Catonsville, 18 grandchildren; 39 great-grandchildren; and 13 great-great-grandchildren. Her husband of 63 years died in 1987. Another son, Dr. Donald I. "Dutch" Mohler Jr., died in 1984.

Jacques Kelly

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