Dorothy Weinstein (1908–2011)

By Sue Bridge

Dorothy Weinstein in April of 2008.

Dorothy Weinstein died quietly at the age of 102 at her home at 48 Temple St., where she had lived for 58 years.  Her two surviving sons, Arthur of Northridge, Calif., and Jordan of Arlington, her large extended family, many Beacon Hill neighbors and other well-wishers bid her farewell at services held on Friday, June 3.

Dorothy, her husband and sons moved to Temple Street from the old West End in 1953, back when demographically the north slope of Beacon Hill was more part of the West End than of the Hill.  Over the decades as the neighborhood gradually gentrified around her, Dorothy’s cosmopolitan intelligence and good-natured curiosity about her fellow man made her equally at home whomever she was talking to.

After her husband’s death and her sons moved away, Dorothy offered a home-away-from-home to guests from all corners of the world  — and all were welcome, whatever their race, faith or nationality.  Some who came to stay were tourists, and dozens upon dozens were medical students from abroad training at MGH.  Some stayed for a few nights or a few weeks, and many would return again and again.  Many became friends.

Although Dorothy left school after the eighth grade to help support her mother and eight brothers and sisters, it is fair to say that her education never ended.  She was a voracious reader and an ardent fan of PBS, where her favorite program in recent years was the “Charlie Rose Show.” Politics, especially international affairs, was a particular interest, yet one never knew when she might recite from memory a long poem she had learned as a girl.  She was proud of her diction, which was impeccable.

Because her son Arthur had served in the Peace Corps in Malawi over many years, Dorothy sent hundreds of boxes of clean, practical, used clothes to that impoverished country.  She was quick to enlist her Temple Street neighbors and many others for a steady supply.

Dorothy Weinstein was an original.  She managed her guesthouse business and her stock portfolio on her own until close to her 100th birthday.  Like many of her generation she was famously thrifty (she favored second-hand furniture and simple inexpensive clothes) and she could cite the price of a pound of onions from years back. She would buy a $1 ticket for the lottery at Jobi’s Liquor when she passed that way.  But she also wrote substantial checks for neighborhood causes when the occasion arose, and she was quietly generous to family and friends in need.

In recent years Dorothy had time to sit in the lovely little Temple Street park adjacent to her home, meeting and greeting old friends and strangers, young and old, alike, feeding the birds and reading Time Magazine.  From time to time the younger women of Temple Street would meet in Dorothy’s kitchen for an omelet and an evening of even-tempered wisdom, well-polished stories and camaraderie.

Dorothy was, as they say in Yiddish, a mensch  — a warm and complete human being. She will be remembered with affection and respect for a long, long time.

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