Posted on November 21, 2017 / 68
Dorothy Gay Wilson was born March 19, 1892, in Manhattan, New York to William Alexander Wilson and Annie Grant Brown. She was the second daughter of the marriage as Edith Francis Wilson had been born in 1889. However William Alexander Wilson had been married previously and had three children (Emily Hedeslen Wilson, Mary Helen Wilson, and Francis William Wilson).

She attended Cornell University on a full scholarship which she was awarded on June 30, 1910. There is not much known about her time at Cornell except that while she was there she met Karl Herman Mayer and the two fell in love. The story is that the first time that they kissed it was so passionate that her brooch broke (that was what my father said and I have no knowledge of the truth of this.)

Karl and Dolly married on June 28, 1918, and moved to Cleveland, Ohio shortly thereafter. Her first son, Bruce (my father) was born on December 8, 1919, and second son, Gordon, was born on August 7, 1921. Dolly’s father, William Alexander Wilson, had reached the age of 65 and was forced to retire so the family moved to Harlem, New York to care for him as he had no money.

Her father died and was buried in Woburn, Massachusetts. Her mother, Annie Grant Brown, had come from Scotland and for reasons unknown is buried in Providence, Rhode Island with a group of people to whom we are not related.

In 1925, Dolly and her two sons took a trip to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. where they met a young black man. My grandmother, at 4 feet 10 inches tall, saw the three boys playing and insisted on paying for the young man to tour the Smithsonian with them. At the end of the tour, they decided to go to lunch. The restaurant they chose refused to serve the black child and I was told that my grandmother stood up and said loudly “Well, if your food isn’t good enough for him to eat then it is not good enough for my boys to eat either. I graduated from Cornell University and maybe I should just go call my lawyer if you are serving food that is unfit to eat.” The owner relented and the four of them enjoyed a nice lunch/early dinner together.

Dolly moved back to Cleveland after taking care of her parents and send her sons first to Exeter and then my father to Cornell University and my Uncle to Hamilton College. She and Karl then moved to Yonkers, Bronxville, back to Cleveland, to Pepper Pike, Ohio, and finally retired in San Clemente, California.

I am told that I met her once soon after I was born, which I don’t remember. I do know that she got a serious illness in 1976 and was put into a nursing home. When her husband went to check on her he found her unable to respond and with a very high fever. He physically picked her up and carried her out of the nursing home and took her home immediately.

He was an engineer by profession and he designed a system of cables and seats that could transport her all around the house so that he could care for her by himself. I am also told that he was able to turn the air in the house so that it was 100% pure oxygen.

My father would go and see his mother and she would say to him “I don’t know where your father ran off to, but this man is so nice and is taking great care of me.” She died at her home on Las Alamos Street in San Clemente, California on May 26, 1978.

She was buried in the family plot in Woburn, Massachusetts and my father was the only one at the funeral.


Tribute Type : In Loving Memory
Location : San Clemente
First Name : Dorothy (Dolly)
Last Name : Mayer
Years : 1892-1978
Birth Date (Optional) : March 19. 1892
Deceased Date (Optional) : May 26, 1978
Place of Birth (Optional) : New York, New York
Relatives (Optional) : Dorothy Mayer
Relation : granddaughter

Tribute Author : DMayer58

Share a Memory

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Related Listings