Feb. 23, 1922 - Nov. 23, 2011
Dorothy Beatrice Rizzuti Harmsen was born in Walla Walla on Feb. 23, 1922. She died on Nov. 23, 2011, in Kennewick, at the age of 89.
Dorothy was raised by her English mother, Lena, and Italian father, Frank Rizzuti. Lena was Church of England; Frank was Roman Catholic. Dorothy was raised with music and dance. Frank ran the Pastime Caf and had a band. Dee danced.
She attended Saint Patrick's School, graduating with honors. She turned down college scholarship offers to work; World War II was impacting Walla Walla.
She met her future husband, Robert Harmsen, an Air Force pilot, while a hostess at the Marcus Whitman Hotel. Robert was training to fly the B-24 bomber in combat. After a very short engagement, they married just before Robert was being shipped out to the Pacific Theater.
The first two years of her marriage were by correspondence. When the war ended they lived near Philadelphia, where Dorothy worked as a medical and legal secretary. They enjoyed their first sailboat on the Delaware River. Work for Robert was disappointing so they moved to Walla Walla, where Robert took a job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Dorothy became active with the American Legion and they danced at the Elks.
In 1957, Robert took a job in Richland with the Atomic Energy Commission or AEC. The family, now with sons Robert Jr. and Stephen, moved to the Tri-Cities. Dorothy became secretary to the Richland superintendent of schools. She became well known for the over 40 memory books she prepared for retiring staff.
Dorothy had an active social life, continuing to dance and taking offices in Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and American Legion 40 8. Robert and Dorothy raised their sons in St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Kennewick, where they made their home.
Dorothy lived in their home on South Everett Place for 50 years. She then moved to Ruan's Garden Adult Family Home, where she spent her final three years. She attended Pasco First Christian Church with son, Robert, and his wife, Marilyn.
Dorothy is survived by her sister, Shirley Reynolds (Stuart), Walla Walla; sons, Robert (Marilyn), Kennewick and Stephen (Cecelia), Golden, Colo.; and grandchildren, Rebecca, Jennifer, Paul and Steven; and six great-grandchildren from Anchorage, Alaska, to Aurora, Colo.
Memorial services will be held Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, at 2 p.m., at Pasco First Christian Church, 1524 W. Marie St.
The family invites you to sign the online guestbook at www.muellersfuneralhomes.com.