Dorothy Eileen Tschirhart, age 97, of Grand Haven, passed away on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at home. She was born on December 7, 1922 in Hersey, Michigan to the late Ralph Addison & Blanche Emma (Vliet) Hunt.
Dorothy moved to St. Joseph, MI where she owned and operated several hair salons (including Dorothy's Hair Styling at the Whitcomb Hotel) for several years before working at V.J. George Beauty Salon as a hair stylist, manicurist, and makeup artist until she was 90 years, 11 months young.
She had a passion for music and was a self taught pianist who loved playing piano, dancing, and singing in church. Dorothy enjoyed modeling and roller skating in her early and later years. She was a participant in several roller skating competitions where she mostly performed 3 of 4 disciplines of roller skating, which included American Dance, International Dance, and Figures, with a slight hint of Freestyle.
Dorothy enjoyed traveling, and went to Europe three times. She visited numerous countries including: France, Cuba, Ireland, Switzerland, Netherlands, England, Scotland, Germany, Jamaica, Isle of Madeira (off coast of Africa), Spain, Austria, Grand Bahamas, Portugal, Italy, Hawaii, and Canada. She also enjoyed sailing and going on the occasional Caribbean cruise.
Guy Lombardo, a bandleader and violin player of Italian descent, was on the phone just outside of a salon in the Vincent Hotel where Dorothy worked. He came inside the salon, spoke a bit with her, and asked if he could hold her daughter, Melanie, who was about two years old at the time. Later, at Crystal Palace, he told Dorothy he would love to dance with her.
Dorothy saw Gary Cooper on the dance floor at a California hotel where famous movie stars would eat dinner and dance. Elizabeth Taylor's first husband, Nicki Hilton, was at the same nightclub where Dorothy saw Gary Cooper. She told Melanie, that Gary Cooper was with his girlfriend, not his wife. Dorothy also saw John Wayne and his wife at that same nightclub on another occasion. She commented that on each occasion, Gary Cooper and John Wayne were the tallest men on the dance floor, and referring to the Duke, “we danced, I made sure he was only looking at my eyes.” Harry James once asked Dorothy if she would like to go with him to Memphis, to which she replied, “I'd love to, but I doubt Betty Grable would like it much.”
She took Melanie to an event where Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey played. On other various occasions, Dorothy and Melanie saw Louis Armstrong (Satchmo), and drummer, Gene Krupa.
Dorothy had an extended stay at a California hotel where Marilyn Monroe was living, rode on an airplane with Shirley Temple's first husband, and saw Donald O'Connor. Vera Ellen danced as a partner with Betty Grable in a show and they both had the same costumes. Dorothy ate at Judy Garland's restaurant, and actor, Herbert Marshall and his wife stopped at Judy's table in a popular restaurant where Dorothy was eating. She also ate at Romanoff's in Hollywood, a popular restaurant with Hollywood stars during the 1940's and 1950's.
Dorothy listened to Peggy Lee sing, "Lover" and said "surrender" three times, and then screamed, “Surrender!" as she kind of fell over a prop. She saw where Rudy Valentino lived in Beverly Hills, and also saw Duke Ellington, band leader; Jack Foster, long-distance runner; and Benny Goodman, American clarinetist.
Some of Dorothy's favorite songs that she played on the piano include: September in The Rain (a song she played daily), Unforgettable, Fascination, Body and Soul, I'll Never Smile Again, and Whispering.
Dorothy will always be remembered as a people person who gave all of herself in anything she accomplished, and could easily strike up a memorable conversation with just about anyone. She poured out her cup so everyone would have enough.
Dorothy is lovingly remembered and missed by her daughter, Melanie Tschirhart; and four grandchildren, Danee’ Tschirhart (Marc Berry), Sonya (Sam) Kramer Rickman, David (Vanessa) Gargano, and Amber Gargano.
In addition to being a terrific grandma to her grandkids, she truly enjoyed being a great-grandma and great-great-grandma to 8 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren.
The Funeral Service for Dorothy will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020 at Klaassen Family Funeral Home. Visitation will be held from 12 to 2 p.m. on Friday at the funeral home. The family will have a private graveside service at North Shore Memory Gardens in Coloma MI.
Memorial contributions may be made to Klaassen Family Funeral Home in Dorothy’s name.
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Klaassen Family Funeral Home: In Memory of Dorothy Tschirhart
1500 Robbins Rd., Grand Haven MI 49417