Dorothy Mulhern Carroll
March 13, 1920 – March 9, 2021.
Dorothy Mulhern Carroll died peacefully on March 9, 2021 at 100. The family will hold a small, private remembrance this Saturday, March 13th on what would have been her 101st birthday.
“Dotty” as she was known to all, is survived by her five children, Susan Carroll Lemkau, Frederick Aloysius Carroll, Janet Carroll Donelan, Robert Mackin Carroll Jr, and Richard Douglas Carroll. She is also survived by 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren with a 14th on the way. She is the last survivor of her six siblings, outliving her youngest brother Dick by one day.
Dorothy Marie Mulhern was born in Boston and grew up in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Her parents, Joe and Gertrude Mulhern, raised her in a home on Moss Hill Road as her father became a successful lawyer and Massachusetts State Senator. She was the second of six children. She spent her summers at Green Harbor riding horses on the beach, and went to St Gregory’s High School, where she had some of her “best memories.” She went on to Regis College. In her sophomore year, she unwillingly went to a sorority dance with a boy who “wasn’t my type.” It was there that a tall Ensign in the Navy who had just graduated from Dartmouth smiled at her from the stag line. The Ensign was Robert Mackin Carroll and he told his father that night he saw the girl he was going to marry.
They married in San Francisco on April 17th in 1942, despite her mother’s apprehension, and shortly before her new husband was transferred to submarine school. Bob would go on to be a Captain of combat submarines in World War II, earning the Silver Star and two bronze medals.
In 1945, tragedy struck Dotty’s life for the first time. Her brother Bobby, a Dartmouth graduate like her husband and an officer in the Army Air Corp, was killed in a plane crash in Africa during the War. That same year, she and Bob had their first child, Susan.
Bob stayed in the Navy after the War and the couple had four more children, plus an English boxer named Camby. They loved being parents and Bob’s promising Naval career took them to homes in England, Hawaii and Virginia. But the family had the unspeakable happen in January of 1960 when five Naval officers came to the house in Yateley, England, to tell them Bob’s plane from Washington D.C. to Norfolk crashed and he was killed. Dot was only 39 years old.
For a woman whose life had been marred by tragedies that few experience, she never outwardly wore them. She was always the person in the room everyone wanted to be around. She had a gift of making people feel special. Despite her disarming beauty and charm, Dot made everyone feel at ease. She loved to talk to people and she loved even more to listen.
As her children got married, Dot became deeply loved by her sons and daughters-in-law – Curt, Liz, Matt and Brigitte. She insisted her grandchildren call her Dotty because she was far too young and glamorous to be a grandmother. She built unique, special relationships with each of them, with all of their spouses, and then all of their children. She taught her great-grandchildren the value of asking questions and the art of conversation, now lost in an era of text. She told them stories of how JFK once flirted with her. They became interested World War II and how submarines worked through her eyes. Above all, she taught them what it meant to be interesting.
She was both consistent and surprising. She always took home a doggie bag, but never skipped dessert. She wore Chanel, but loved discounts at Filene’s basement. She would eat the entire lobster, eyes and all. She loved – deeply loved – the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins and would cheer them on and curse whoever they played. She was confident yet entirely unselfconscious.
After Bob’s death, she spent most summers in Cape Cod and moved there after her children were grown. She loved to play golf and unapologetically worshipped the sun at the Oyster Harbors Club. She played tennis and bridge with friends, old and new. She drove her Mercedes convertible well into her 90s to eat in the club room at Wimpy’s. The highlight of the summer was always the Fourth of July when the extended family would come together for the High Point Games, a fierce competition among the family that one year ended with Dot covered in yolk after a failed attempt at the egg toss.
She never remarried. She insisted she was already in love with someone, he just happened to be dead. “For me, I would never find a better man than Bob Carroll.” She remained fiercely devoted to and protective of her five children throughout their lives.
She was the soul of a large, loud family who adored her. She left this world as she lived her life – on her terms with grace and gratitude. She was truly one of a kind. She is irreplaceable. We miss you, Dot.
Services are private.
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