Obituary of Dolores Rosalia Eldridge
Dolores Rosalia Eldridge, 89, passed away on July 24 after a long illness. Graveside services will be held at New Elm Ridge Cemetery, Kidder Avenue, Grass Valley at 10:00 am on Monday, July 30.
Dolores (Dee) was born in 1928 in a small mining town, Hiawatha, Utah, where her father and his family were all coal miners. Her father was killed in a mine blast in 1930 when Dee was just a toddler. Her mother, a resourceful and strong woman, soon gave birth to Dee’s brother, and all three of them moved to Grand Junction, Colorado, where they lived with Dee’s grandparents until they moved to Grass Valley in 1941.
Dee graduated from Grass Valley High School in 1946. Shortly before Dee graduated from high school, a car accident left her mother partially paralyzed, and Dee became the primary caregiver. Dee’s plans to go to college and then law school came to an end; however, she was determined to pursue her dream of becoming a successful businesswoman. Over time, and after marrying a Grass Valley native and having four children, she became the manager at the local Montgomery Ward. She managed a large staff and an automotive department as well, and she became an expert in the ins and outs of retail sales and car repair.
Dee was extremely active in the Chamber of Commerce and Business and Professional Women (BPW). During her many years in BPW, she held various elected positions, including President of the local chapter but also President of BPW for the state of California. She was also active in politics and women’s issues, traveling to national and international BPW conventions. She traveled to the White House where she met briefly with Bill Clinton. She worked closely with California officials, including Governor Jerry Brown (during his first term). Brown appointed Dee to the Nevada County Fair Board in the 1970s, where she served for several years. During that time, Montgomery Ward promoted her to a trainer and auditor for stores throughout California and Nevada, and she traveled for work in that position for many years.
When Dee retired from Montgomery Ward, she began her own successful business, attending craft shows with her daughter Janet. She was also a skilled seamstress and created costumes for local theatre productions. She continued as an active member of BPW and was in charge of communications for many years, producing newsletters and organizing events. One of her key achievements was the creation of a writing competition over twenty years ago for high school seniors during Women’s History Month. The winning essay writers receive cash scholarships. In tribute to Dee, the Northern Mines BPW continues the yearly essay competition, which is now named in her honor.
Dee’s husband Duane died in 1996. Dee is survived by her four children: Linda Toy of Palo Alto, Janet Benson of Carmichael, David Eldridge of Nevada City, and Dennis Eldridge of Grass Valley. Also surviving her are her five grandchildren, Jennifer Plevel, Tania Plevel, Zachary Toy, Benn Benson, and Chase Benson along with five great grandchildren, Sophia, Jesse, Chloe, Jake, and Hunter. Her
entire life has been an inspiration for her children and for many others, including local young people and her many friends. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Business and Professional Women of Nevada County Dee Eldridge Scholarship Fund.
Arrangements are under direction of Hooper and Weaver Mortuary.
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