That was the general consensus of Obecians who shared their lives with the extremely modest woman, who never divulged her age – not even her birthday or last name – and rarely posed for photographs.
“She was an amazing person who worked an entire career as an educator then, after she ‘retired,’ began working at OB Hardware, which she proceeded to do for the next 30 years,” said OB Hardware’s current owner Michael DeEmedio. “She became a legend in town and single-handedly fixed thousands of household problems in OB with her advice to customers.”
Added DeEmedio: “She stopped working here regularly after she had a heart scare in mid-2019, but would still come into the store every week to chat and get what she needed. We have a ‘rest in peace’ table set up for her at the front of the store that people have been signing and writing small notes on.”
Previous OB Hardware owners Carolyn and Carl Weidetz spoke highly of Dottie.
“As the owners of OB Hardware from 1981 to 2019, Dottie worked for us for over 30 years,” said the couple in a statement. “She was like family. Almost everyone in OB knew her. She was an independent, confident, self-sufficient and loving Christian woman. She truly cared about people and enjoyed helping them.”
Added the Weidetzs: “We miss her phone calls and lunch visits. She embodied the soul of Ocean Beach and its people. The community will miss her. She was an inspiration to everyone around her and always helped them out.”
Carl Weidetz noted Dottie walked to and from work daily and during her lunch periods, guessing that was four or five miles a day. “She was always young at heart,” he concluded, adding she was very involved with United Methodist Church.
“Dottie was a remarkable being,” recalls John Noble. “She was always so patient and listened carefully to figure out what your whatchamacallit thing was. She knew a lot. For years, I have thought that there should be a statue of Dottie somewhere around Newport Avenue. Let's make it happen.”
Of the hardware store’s favorite employee, colleague Jim Harvey noted: “Dottie was an OB treasure. What a sweetheart and she sure did know her way around the OB Hardware store. There was never a question that she didn't have the answer to.
“My folks knew Dottie from way back and she always asked me how they were doing. I saw her walking a few weeks ago (she walked everywhere). Thankfully, I pulled over to say ‘Hi.’ She smiled that big smile and said, ‘How you doing, Jim?’ She remembered everyone's name. I'm gonna miss sweet Dottie.”
Dottie was a gem concurred Brian Checkal.
“She was as sweet as they come and had the most knowledge of old plumbing parts of anyone I have ever been around,” he said. “She was a jewel for OB and OB Hardware.”
“I first met Dottie in the early ’90s through my husband as we were regulars through the door at OB Hardware,” said Martha Bryson. “It’s sad to hear of her passing. She will be missed. Dottie was such a wonderful soul. She had a generous spirit in many ways. She asked about the health and welfare of my distant relatives who she had an occasion to meet in the store as they sought out a part for something while in town.”
Added Bryson: “Years after meeting these family members. Dottie still asked about them and sent her good wishes to them through me. She shared her vast knowledge of hardware in the aisles of OB Hardware as she knew the inventory and anything you’d need to know about the part. Imagine throughout OB and the Peninsula community all of the repair jobs that she had a direct hand in. That hand in some ways made those repairs possible. In her way, she touched the lives of many. In her way she was a fixer, a job well done. Thank you, Dottie, again and again.”
A Syracuse, N.Y.-native, Dottie studied at the New York State College for Teachers before moving to San Diego in 1957. For 30 years she was a special education, elder education, and girls physical education teacher. She earned a master’s degree in general education and administration from San Diego State University.
Upon retiring, Dottie grew bored and eventually approached OB Hardware about a job, and reportedly started working that same day. Being proficient at everything she did, Dottie made keys, cut glass, found products, and counseled customers on a daily basis. She said her familiarity and adeptness with tools and hardware came from her father, who was a toolmaker and grinder during the Great Depression.