Dorothy Beavers Pecora | Information, Sports activities, Jobs

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Dorothy Beavers Pecora of McLean, Virginia, passed away quietly in her sleep on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 26, 2020, at age 100. Blessed with good health, she was mentally and physically active up until her last days.

Dorothy was born on March 22, 1920, in Orient, Ohio. She graduated from Scioto Township High School in 1938 and from the Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio, in 1941.

A World War II veteran, Dorothy joined the Army as a second lieutenant in 1943 and served in Europe as a surgical and triage nurse in Gen. George Patton’s Third Army. She was discharged from the Army after the end of the war in 1946 with the rank of captain. She was with units of the Third Army when the units liberated the Nazi concentration camps at Penig, Germany, and Ebensee, Austria, and was among the first Americans to enter the camps, where she witnessed the atrocities firsthand. She became friends with several camp survivors, with whom she exchanged letters for many years. For her service Dorothy was awarded the Bronze Star and earned five battle stars. The Bronze Star citation notes her “great organizational ability and leadership” and that her “untiring efforts and devotion to duty inspired the other nurses serving with her.” In her later years Dorothy was an invited speaker at various events and gatherings, where she related her World War II experiences to younger generations. In 1999, Dorothy, representing the 400,000 women who served in World War II, was the first woman to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery.

Prior to departing for overseas, while stationed at the 317th Station Hospital at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, Dorothy met Dr. David Pecora, a young surgeon serving as a first lieutenant (later captain) in the Third Army — and her future husband. They were briefly reunited in England and were married on July 21, 1944, in Winchester, where Dorothy was stationed as the chief nurse to the Second Platoon of the Third Army’s 30th Field Hospital. With no family members present at the ceremony, Dorothy wore a wedding dress and veil mailed from home by her mother. With no opportunity for a honeymoon, Dorothy and David once again were separated when the next day Dorothy embarked for France from the nearby port of Southampton, carrying her wedding bouquet in hand as she boarded the transport ship. Although they wrote each other frequently throughout the war, the letters were often delayed and usually heavily censored. Due to the censorship, each was seldom aware of the other’s position, even when they were very close, as when both were present at the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.

Following the war, Dorothy and David first lived at David’s family home in Yonkers, New York, while David completed his medical education. Thereafter, they moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where David was a resident in surgery at the Yale Medical School, and then Providence, Rhode Island, where David practiced as a thoracic surgeon at the Veterans Administration hospital. In 1954, Dorothy, David and their two daughters moved to Saranac Lake, where David served as the chief of surgery at the Ray Brook State Tuberculosis Hospital until 1965. In Saranac Lake, Dorothy was active as a Girl Scouts leader and as Franklin County executive director of the American Cancer Society. From 1972 to 2006, Dorothy and David lived in Wilmington, Delaware, where David maintained a private medical practice and Dorothy had an antique doll dress making business, creating historically accurate doll garments that were highly sought after by serious doll collectors. For a number of years, Dorothy had a stand at a local flea market dealing mainly in dolls and doll-related items, but primarily for the enjoyment of meeting and conversing with both new and longtime collectors. She also served as a volunteer docent for the Winterthur Museum’s textile collection. The couple moved to McLean, Virginia, in 2006, where David died in 2014, three days after their 70th wedding anniversary, and Dorothy remained until her death.

Dorothy is survived by her daughters Ann Pecora Diamond of New Haven, Connecticut, and Michele Pecora (Michael Lefever) of McLean, Virginia; two grandchildren, Vanessa Lindlaw (Scott) and Melanie Loftus; and three great-grandchildren. She was predeceased in death by her brothers Wayne Beavers and Elwin Beavers, and by her parents Ruby and Elmer Beavers.

A memorial service will be held in Saranac Lake at a date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, one wishing to commemorate the life of Dorothy Pecora might consider a donation to the First Methodist Church in Saranac Lake or the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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