One of Our Own: Jamestown Resident, Dorothy Valone Snitger to Celebrate 104th Birthday

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Dorothy Valone Snitger

Article Contributed by
Dottie Maitland

Just look at the hands. It says it all. She’s ready for whatever. She’s organized. She’s up to date on “the world”. And she will be 104!

These are the hands of Dorothy Valone Snitger, a Jamestown resident and the oldest member of the Elizabeth Warner Marvin Community House. Dorothy was born in Jamestown, NY, October 16th, 1918. This year was the end of World War I. Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago Bears. Appropriate! Dorothy is a Red Sox fan.

Dorothy is the daughter of Dr. James Valone, a well-known and respected Internist and Diagnostician. Her mother, Ola Stover Valone, was a nurse. Dorothy had a baby brother, but her mother and father were very protective of their daughter.

Dorothy attended Rogers Elementary School, Jefferson Junior High and graduated from Jamestown High school. As a child she remembers playing with her dolls that were glass or stuffed with cotton and wooden heads. She loved making paper dolls and had commercial paper dolls that resembled the movie stars. She vividly recalls the days of World War II and the blackouts when the siren released ear breaking moans. Her mother bought dark material that was hung over all the windows and doors. She understood the threat of War, but said she remained strong; not afraid. She addressed the Depression. People came by her home and asked her mother how much sugar they had. Food was rationed. Her mother did not have to give up the extra bags of sugar at that time. Her family loved sugar and she still does. She described the high school proms and the beautiful clothes. Music was her talent and she loved singing and playing the piano.

Dorothy went to National Women’s college near Washington, DC. Dorothy’s Dad did not want her to go to school with boys. While being instructed one day on the piano she hummed. That was the discovery of her beautiful voice that entertained and treated others for years. She went on to say the school was beautiful and the building exists today as a home for Veterans. Dorothy loved Washington, DC. Every Monday the women went by bus to downtown DC for concerts with the Washington DC orchestra. Here she also met Peter Marshall, the famous minister and his wife, Katherine. Peter Marshall was the appointed pastor for the Senate. Dorothy continued her music education and graduated college from Penn Hall in Chambersburg, PA after two years.

Dorothy’s parents spent winters in Florida. Neighbors and her brother’s friends held a birthday party for her mother. The hosting Clark family was manufacturer and owner of Clark’s Candy located in Pittsburgh, Pa. She was seated next to Bob, their nephew She said they had a lovely conversation and a walk in the garden following the dinner. Equally they enjoyed each other’s company, but Bob was in the Air Force and stationed in Philadelphia. They continued to correspond with each other throughout the World War II.

Dorothy worked during Christmas time at Murphy’s Five and Dime in Jamestown and sold music records continuing with her music. She sang at churches on Sunday for pay. Her voice was known throughout the communities. She also worked at Christmas time at Bigelow’s selling toys.

She wanted a car, but her father was against her driving. Her mother secretly helped her. Dorothy got a 1935 2-door Pontiac and her eyes dance as she explains the look of the car and that only two people could fit in the back seat.

Dorothy and Bob Snitger were in love and wanted a Christmas wedding, but families did not like the timing for their businesses, so they were married in the Fall in Jamestown. Their wedding night was spent in Kane, PA and there was no honeymoon as Bob had to be back in Philly for the candy business where they had an apartment for years. Bob became ill suddenly and was hospitalized. He died at 63 after only two weeks after becoming ill. Dorothy was devastated.

Dorothy returned to Jamestown but had her own apartment much to her mother’s disappointment. Dorothy said she had been independent, and she thought she and her mother might not be able to live together after all. Dorothy made many friends and traveled the world. She still regrets she never made it to France. Dorothy’s brother James lived in Denver and was a famous artist. He did travel to Paris for his artwork and sent Dorothy French perfume that she still cherishes.

Dorothy is a charter member of The Marvin House . She joined with her friends. Every Thursday they played Bridge in the round room and had lunch. Her eyes dance as she relates those fun events that included musical entertainment and great food. Dorothy signed the original Marvin House Charter in 1951 and is the oldest member. Approaching 104, she still cares and follows the future of the Marvin House and never tires of talking about the good old days of volunteering and working for the continuation of this community gift from Elizabeth Warner Marvin.

What is important today for Dorothy? The Boston Red Sox and the Buffalo Bills. She knows their positions, importance in the teams and the outlook for the Super Bowl and World Series. In discussing Women, she loudly shares her desire to see women go back to dresses and fashion. Even though she is legally blind now she makes sure her image is one of beauty and grace before entertaining guests. Yes, her picture is worth a thousand words, and we thank her for sharing many of her thoughts thru the ages.

The Marvin House Board and members know Dorothy Snitger is a treasure. Join the members in wishing Dorothy Valone Snitger a Happy 104th birthday, October 16th. Please send birthday cards to Dorothy c/o The Marvin House, 2 W 5th Street, Jamestown, NY 14701. How many times in your lifetime can you say you sent a birthday card to a friend , 104 years old?