Dorothy Dusi, (Dottie) was born Dorothy Lorraine Steppie on July 21, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois, to William and Mary Steppie. Dottie moved to Paso Robles, where she attended her final two years of high school.
After graduating in the class of 1946, Dottie went to work for Pacific Bell, as a telephone operator. Party lines still existed, and letters were included in telephone numbers. The operators still wore headphones, working a switchboard, connecting people to people.
Dottie met Dante Dusi in 1948, and it was love at first sight. They married in 1949, and three children followed: Rick, Mike and Kathy. Dottie was proud of her three children and she loved being their mother.
This young family lived and worked on the vineyard planted in Templeton, in 1945, by Dante, his father Sylvester, and Dante’s brothers Guido and Benito. Dottie stepped into the role of vineyard manager, taking charge of grape harvest while Dante worked weekdays for Madonna construction.
Dottie was a pioneer in the grape industry, working beside the men, driving the flatbed truck, loaded with wooden grape boxes, full of Zinfandel grapes. Dante’s mother Caterina was surprised that this city girl from Chicago could adjust so easily into the role of farmer, wife, and mother, earning the respect of the Dusi family.
Dottie was vocal in championing causes that helped the community. As a young mother, she joined the Templeton Unified School District school board, where decisions were made to benefit students. She was instrumental in raising money for the school. It was Dottie that orchestrated large fundraisers in the 1960’s, so that the Templeton High School band program could purchase band uniforms, which the kids proudly wore, marching in parades and entered competitions. Dottie got involved in the Relay for Life, raising money for cancer, after her daughter Kathy died of breast cancer in 2005. She volunteered at our local hospital. Dottie was a person that got involved, and she made a difference in people’s lives.
Dottie’s love of travel began when she took her three children back to Chicago by train to visit her family. She was very independent, and after her children were grown, Dottie traveled the world. Smart, curious, she would go off to learn about other cultures, and see the beauty of it all. Her favorite trip was to Africa, but so many places topped her list of favorites. Dottie had enthusiasm about people and places. She inspired her children, grandchildren and other family members to follow her example to get out in the world and experience things. Ocean cruises were her favorite past time. If you said the word “Go,” Dottie asked, “WHEN?!”
This inquisitive woman learned to paint, she learned flower design, working at Arlyne’s Flowers. She learned the artistry of stained glass from her daughter Kathy. They worked side by side for many years, designing and making stained glass windows, installing them in homes and churches throughout the community.
In the past few years, the family opened a winery and tasting room. Dottie became the “hostess.” She loved people and the social setting. Dottie came to the winery every day to share stories of the wine history of Paso Robles. Dottie lived and died on the vineyard that had been her home for 70 years.
Dorothy is survived by her sons, Rick (Teresa) and Mike (Joni); grandchildren Michael, Matt, Janell, Kyle, and Trevor Dusi; great-grandchildren Dante, Delaney and Parker Benito; her brother Don Steppie (Donna); sister Bonnie; and sister-in-law Earnestine Dusi; nieces Gina Dusi, Barbara, and Michelle Ventura; nephews Michael Steppie, Rich and Mark, as well as many great-nieces and nephews. Dottie’s little terrier Duffy, who never left her side, is grieving like the rest of us.
Heartfelt thanks for the care and companionship that a special team of women provided to Dottie every day: Pat, Louise, Mary, Christina, Judy, Lorea, Patty and Pam. Also the warmest appreciation, and thanks to Wilshire Hospice: Nancy, Joni, Shannon, Chris, Berkeley and others, for the amazing medical and personal care they provided for Dottie in her home, and the support they gave to us, her family.