Cover photo for Dorothy Messing Bolotin's Obituary
Dorothy Messing Bolotin Profile Photo

Dorothy Messing Bolotin

June 1, 1916 — January 9, 2024

Charleston, SC

Dorothy Messing Bolotin


Dorothy Bolotin, who lived through both the influenza pandemic of 1918 and the COVID pandemic a century later, as well as two world wars and the invention of almost everything we think of as modern, died January 9 at the remarkable age of 107 (actually, 107 and a half, but who’s counting?). Though COVID may have precipitated her death, it’s also likely that she decided, as she did with so many things, that it was time already. As she said to her children recently, “This can’t go on forever.”


Her longevity was only a small part of what made her so extraordinary. 


Dorothy was born on June 1, 1916, to Freda (Behrens) and Abraham Messing, in Cleveland, Ohio. When her older sister, Helen, wanted to go on a date, their mother insisted that she bring Dorothy, then 15, along. Helen’s date (who would become her husband) dragooned one of his younger fraternity brothers to come along and get the little sister off their hands; that man was Joseph H. Bolotin. The date was a success: Dorothy and Joe married June 16, 1938, the day after she graduated from Flora Mather College (now Case Western Reserve University) and he got his degree from Western Reserve College Medical School (also now Case Western Reserve). They were married for 76 years, until Joe’s death in 2014, at the young age of 100. 


Very few people met or heard about Dorothy in recent years without asking for the secret of her longevity. “Genes” was the obvious answer. But let us not forget that she and Joe had a life rich with family, community, purpose, activity, fun, music—and a measured jigger of Scotch every night.  


Though Dorothy tried out various jobs—notably, substitute teaching and travel agenting—her primary career was as a wife and mother, a grandmother and great-grandmother. And she was an ace! A legendary cook, she once recreated all seven courses from the Danish film Babette’s Feast, starting with “Potage à la Tortue” (turtle soup), all the way through the “Savarin au Rhum avec des Figues et Fruit Glacée” (rum sponge cake with figs and candied cherries); relatives and friends flocked to her Passover seders and Thanksgiving dinners, eager to taste her brisket, noodle kugel, and yummy pies. 


Though she would never have called herself a feminist, Dorothy was terribly proud of her accomplishments as a woman, notably as the first female president of Temple Beth Israel of Sharon, Pa. And, considering she was born before women gained suffrage, she was tickled to be able to vote for Hillary. She was famous for having opinions and for making them known. But as she passed the century mark, that edge, that sense of firm certainty, was more frequently expressed in her declarations of happiness to see a loved one or simply to enjoy the sunshine in Charleston, S.C., where she spent her last years.


Dorothy outlived an entire generation of siblings and cousins, but she is remembered with devotion by those she left behind—her children, David Bolotin and Susu Knight, Ruth (Bolotin) and Bill Schwartz, and Susan Bolotin and John Rothman; her grandchildren, Stephanie Schwartz, Rebecca (Schwartz) and Joshua Weinreich, Lily Rothman and Elihu Dietz, and Noah and Jessie (Toback) Rothman; and her great-grandchildren, Raphael and Jaye Weinreich, Abraham Dietz, and Simon Rothman. 


Though a product of the Depression and a worrier by trade (she once boasted to an oral historian, who asked about her children: “I have nobody, thank God, who wanted to play football”), Dorothy Bolotin knew how to have fun. Bridge, cribbage, salsa, travel, Sunday trips to the Cleveland Symphony or Indians games, friends and family—it all brought her pleasure. And she brought pleasure to the world.


The family asks that any donations in Dorothy’s memory be made to the United Jewish Appeal ( or Buhl Park of Sharon, Pa. ( Long before anyone had heard about getting in 10,000 steps a day, Joe and Dorothy walked that park as frequently as they could, holding hands, taking in all that life had to offer. 



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