Dorothy Rita Ballerina Flemming died on March 11 at the age of 101.
Born in Chicago, IL. her parents were Sebena LeBlanc, a native of New Orleans, and Guiseppi Alfredo Ballerina originally of Como, Italy. Her father, who worked in the export business, was an unfortunate victim during the riots against Italian immigrants in New Orleans and died before she was born. Her mother, grandmother, uncles and aunts moved to Chicago following his tragic demise.
While attending Hyde Park High she met Thomas L. Flemming. They married in August of 1941, and had a loving and wonderful marriage that ended with his death in 1995. Tom and Dorothy had two daughters, Donna Marie and Denise Bernadette.
Dorothy and Thomas enjoyed a wonderful life filled with social activities, and Dorothy was very active in the Girl Scouts of America as a troop leader, establishing Girl Scout campsites in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. As Donna and Denise began their respective college careers, Dorothy joined the workforce, initially with a commercial realty firm and later in executive banking at The Northern Trust Bank.
The couple enjoyed travel immensely, whether with a group of friends or just the two of them. Traveling with their daughters included many road trips to the East Coast, including the New York World’s Fair, and Canada. As “empty nesters” they travelled around the world twice, visiting every continent and experiencing moments in history: Protests in the streets outside the Rome Hilton, where they were staying, during President Nixon’s visit to Rome; arriving in Beirut just after the hijacking of the TWA flight and flying on a PanAm flight when all male passengers were herded off the plane by armed men (they were separated for 6 tense hours); and the protests in Argentina after the death of Eva Peron.
They spent time with Denise while she was living in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York City. They spent Christmas in Kuwait while Donna was living there, and Dorothy revisited Kuwait after her grandson Tariq was born, also celebrating Tariq’s first birthday with Donna and family when they were living in the north of Italy.
Dorothy and Thomas took their grandsons Tariq and Sean on many weekend adventures in Michigan and Wisconsin, a Disney Cruise; Dorothy even rode the Disney World Teacup ride with her “boys” in Orlando. She and Thomas rarely missed Hyde Park-Kenwood Little League Baseball games when the boys were playing, often taking two dirty little boys to McDonald’s after a game, win or lose. They were wonderfully supportive grandparents.
After Thomas’ death, Dorothy continued a socially active life, enjoying theater, travel and dining out. She fortunately had the opportunity to spend happy moments with her great-grandsons Raef Thomas & Isaiah Joaquim (Tariq and Aubrey).
She will be lovingly remembered by her daughters Donna and Denise, grandsons Tariq W. Fleming (Aubrey), Sean T. Fleming, and great-grandsons Raef T. Fleming and Isaiah J. Fleming, as well as the host of extended friends who have become family over the years. Services will be private.