Thank you, Dorothy J. Martino
We’re going to take a break from the usual content of local political and government issues covered in this column to reflect on the life of a very special lifelong Woodbridge resident, Dorothy J. Martino, who sadly passed away on October 30. If there was ever a time where people over politics was more than just a campaign catch phrase, it’s now. That said, I ask the readers’ indulgence to take time to read the following paragraphs. At the end, I trust you’ll have a better sense of a life well-lived for the benefit of our town.
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone with a memory of Woodbridge without Dorothy. Her 88 years were spent as a resident of “the flats” of Woodbridge. She never considered the term offensive, as it was simply descriptive of the topography of her part of town. And did she see Woodbridge change in those 88 years! In many quiet but impactful ways, she had a hand in the town we know today. To give you a sense of her longevity, she attended elementary school before there was a Beecher Road School, and Hillhouse High School in New Haven because there was no Amity Regional High School in those days.
Dorothy’s love of Woodbridge manifested itself in service. As her father before her, she served on the Woodbridge Board of Education for 14 years and was part of the leadership team that saw our student population grow far beyond her imagining. Dorothy was constantly mindful of the students’ and teachers’ wellbeing, as Dorothy was a teacher herself – more on that later. She also served 5 terms (10 years) on the Board of Selectmen, again, witnessing and contributing to the leadership of our steadily growing town. Always respectful in what at times is a contentious political environment, Dorothy worked with all sides for the betterment of her town.
Dorothy’s civic involvement was truly unparalleled. Aside from the Boards of Education and Selectmen, she served on the Woodbridge Elderly Housing Committee and Library Committee to which she donated the funds for the Antoinette and Francis P. Martino (her parents) Reading Room for young adults. She also served on our Charter Revision Commission, Library Capital Committee and the Town Hall Renovation Committee. The lives she touched and the results of her work and generosity are all over town – and beyond. Her dedication and effort in Woodbridge Rotary Club are still felt to this day. Little wonder she was recognized as one of our town’s Living Treasures just three short years ago.
Politically, Dorothy was an active Republican, serving as a member of the Republican Town Committee since 1962. Far beyond being a party standard bearer when running for office, she helped on countless fundraisers, voter outreach and civic service programs sponsored by the Party. She was the “Grand Dame” of the Party, offering her experience and knowledge of the people of Woodbridge as a member of our Nominating Committee which has provided us with many dedicated volunteers on elected and appointed boards and commissions. Our current serving Selectmen Lober and Vogel became our nominees under Dorothy’s watch.
Dorothy’s dedication extended beyond public service. She was a member of the Our Lady of the Assumption Church Choir for 8o years – you read that correctly. Joining as a child of 8, she may very well hold the Catholic record for longest serving choir member – if anyone is keeping score. And her 20 years on the Parish Council, a few as President, saw her steady hand guide OLOA to be one of the most successful, flourishing parishes in the archdiocese. And our former party Chairman remembers Miss Martino as his second grade Sunday School teacher.
Beyond the Woodbridge Town limits, Dorothy’s commitment to education can be seen in her 40 plus years as a teacher in the New Haven Public School system culminating in the Edgewood School in New Haven renaming its library The Dorothy J. Martino Library. Her dedication to SCSU (formerly New Haven Teachers College) was lifelong as well. She has remained an active member of the SCSU Alumni Committee and created the Dorothy J. Martino Scholarship. For over two decades, the scholarship has benefited students from Bethany, Orange, or Woodbridge who are pursuing a career in education.
As we enjoy our Thanksgiving this year, please take a quiet, thoughtful moment to give thanks for Dorothy J. Martino’s life well-lived for the benefit of our town and the positive and enduring impact she had on so many people around us. She has humbly set a very high standard for those who look to serve our town today and in the future.