Monday, May 23, 2011

Dorothy Pauline Tarantine

Wellsville, NY - Dorothy Pauline Tarantine, born August 13, 1921 in Millersville, MO, died May 22, 2011 in Ithaca NY. She was the daughter of Alvin Lee and Nora Walker Niswonger. She was predeceased by her husband, Modestino (Mote) Tarantine and her brothers and sisters (and their spouses): Etta, Anna, Vesta (called Babe), Clola, Truman and Woodrow Niswonger. She is survived by her daughters, Barbara Jo Hulbert and Karen Lee Tarantine, granddaughter Karen Margaret (Matt) Schindler, three great grandsons and many generations of nieces and nephews.

Her mother died shortly after Dot was born. She and her brother Woody were the only ones left at home so they were raised by their father with a lot of help from their sisters. As a result, Dot and Woody were very best friends.

Although they generally lived in Cape Girardeau, MO, they moved around the area when her dad was working with the companies building concrete highways in the area. She often attended multiple schools in one school year but graduated from Cape Girardeau High School. Sometimes the three of them lived on their own and sometimes they lived with one of the sisters. She was brought up with her nieces and nephews who were about her age.

Dot met her husband during the war when he was stationed in Cape Girardeau as a flight instructor. She was out with her niece one night and Mote asked to be introduced. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He was told that she had a boyfriend but he said he still wanted to be introduced. One of their first dates was to a restaurant for a spaghetti dinner. Dot had never had spaghetti and didn't know how to eat it or if she liked it. That was almost the end of the relationship! When Mote was transferred to Great Falls, Montana she followed and they were married there in 1944. Mote was shipped overseas to fly the Hump and so Dot went to Olean, NY to live with his sisters, Cara and Jo and his father, Jim Tarantine. While she was there she worked for Bradner's Dept. Store. After the war they lived for a short time in East Aurora where Mote sold cars and then came back to Wellsville when Mote took a job managing the Wellsville Airport on the Bolivar Road.

In 1951, they opened the Airport Drive-In to supplement their income and to serve pilots who flew into Wellsville. They were very famous for their BBQ sauce. Dorothy would peel and chop about a hundred pounds of onions every spring to make the sauce and get ready for the May 1 opening. They also had a unique style of coleslaw that they served with the fish fry. She made hundreds of thousands of hamburgers by paddling with a heavy, solid pancake turner so they could get just the right size and shape to meet their exacting standards. In the ensuing years, they started the Wellsville Flying Service. As that business grew they sold the drive-in and then oversaw the move of the airport to Niles hill where the facility was named "Tarantine Field". They both worked hard as partners in the business. Dot could do anything Mote could except repair and fly the planes! After retirement they enjoyed many years of travel to Canada fishing and to Florida for the sunshine.

Dot had a well-earned reputation as an amazing bridge player. She was part of a Wednesday afternoon group for most of the years she was in Wellsville and later joined some evening groups. Mote always said that if she heard the word bridge - even if it was part of a highway - she was ready to play cards. She was also a 50 year member of Beta Sigma Phi. Although she took up golf in retirement, she quickly became good at that and filled her china cupboard with trophies. She enjoyed social gatherings and was always smiling and friendly. Many people have described her as "just a sweetheart". Her demeanor was one of caring and love but she could be feisty when the occasion called for it. She was an amazing role model for her daughters and granddaughter.

Friends are invited to call on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 from 10:00 to 11:00 am at the Immaculate Conception Church, 36 Maple Avenue in Wellsville. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11:00 am with Rev. Sean DiMaria as Celebrant. Burial will be in St. Mary's Cemetery in Belmont.

Her passing is sad news for her family, but not bad news. She missed her husband terribly over the past four years and they are now reunited in God's love. In lieu of flowers please consider a contribution to Father Bill Brown Missions c/o Immaculate Conception Church, 6 Maple Ave., Wellsville, NY 14895. Fr. Bill worked for Mote and Dot at the drive-in before he entered the priesthood. They were some of the first people to know of Bill's decision to become a priest. They felt great affection for Bill and always supported his work in Peru in any way they could. To leave online condolences, please visit


  1. Mote and Dot were two of the most amazing people I have ever met. They treated me like one of their own. They are both very much missed and I will always be thankful for knowing them. They were wonderful people and were always looking out for others. Truly they were a team in every way! I am sorry for those who are suffering the loss here but glad Mote and Dot are reunited. Your family is in my prayers. -Melanie-

  2. Tammy McQueen KokotMay 23, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    I'd known Mote & Dot for most of my life. They were great friends of my grandparent's, Ruth & Paul McQueen. Mote used to fly us to larger airports when my dad traveled for Worthington (now Dresser-Rand). I'll never forget an elementary field trip to the airport. I'd been there many times and even helped "steer" during a flight or two. Anyway, both Mote & Dot were there that day and as soon as I saw them, I went tearing across the tarmac into their arms.
    They were both wonderful people and the community of Wellsville will miss them terribly.

  3. Glenn Louise Havens-OlsenMay 26, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Dear Barb, I'm sending my sincere sympathy and pray you will feel God's Hand of Peace. What a grand and facinating life your Mom had.

  4. Dear Karen,
    What a full and wonderful life your Mom had. I smiled when I read the part about her never have eaten spaghetti. :) My sincere condolences to you and your family. I know she will be missed.
    Sending much love and peace,
    Lisa (D'Annibale)

  5. Connie Gaus WalkerJune 5, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    Barb - I occasionally check the Wellsville obits and just saw about your Mom's passing. Please accept my condolences. It sounds like your Mom had a wonderful life and has left a lasting legacy. I'm sure you, your sister and her grandchildren have many fond memories that you will cherish forever. Again, I'm sorry for your loss.

  6. Karen and Barb - I just learned of your mothers passing during a visit by my brother (Bill Dodds) over Thanksgiving. Your Mom and Dad are simply two of the finest people I have ever known. Great fun and always with the good advice. Their long time friendship with my Mom and Dad and the times they spent at our lake cottage, or fishing, are forever engrained in my memory. You mom was the one to cut the tail off my shirt when I soloed at the old airport on Bolivar road in the late 60's (and it was a good shirt too). I loved them both. I'm sorry for your loss. Jim Dodds