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Dolores "Dee" Morin Leff
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Birth: Jan. 9, 1926
Death: Sep. 4, 2010

Dolores Morin Leff, 84, former resident of Vermont and New York, a resident of Fairhope, died Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 at home, of liver cancer, just weeks shy of her 60th wedding anniversary. Her husband Jonathan and their daughter Claudia from New York and son Michael fromPennsylvania were with her.
Dee, as she was known by many, was born in Chicago, the daughter of Arthur and Esther Morin and, with her younger brother Donald, raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. Early possessed of an artistic talent, she entered the prestigious High School of Music and Art in Manhattan as an art student. There she found a friend who introduced her to a life-long love of classical music, and of sailboats and canoeing, and who 10 years later arranged a blind date with the man who would become the love of her life.
She long maintained that accuracy rather than inspiration appeared to be her artistic strength, and much of her time in school included listening to and envying the music students. The 3 1/2 hour round-trip daily commute took its toll, however, and after three years she withdrew and returned to a Brooklyn high school.
She went on to Brooklyn College, where, she recalled, she enjoyed a great social life, and managed to flunk freshman chemistry. She then left school and went to work in the war effort in New York Cityas an inker and tracer of engineering drawings, in keeping with her penchant for drawing accurately. She advanced quickly to junior draftsman, covering virtually all of the mechanical engineering fields. In those days, few women sought to work in the male-dominated field of engineering design, but over the years she found only encouragement from her male colleagues.
After a few years, a more mature she resumed her education at Hunter College, majoring in music ("for my own pleasure," she would explain). She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, an accomplishment she rarely acknowledged.
In January 1950 she met Jonathan Leff on the blind date arranged by her high school friend, and in November they were married. They lived in a Greenwich Village apartment, and she returned to engineering as a draftsman. For the next several years they lived and worked in New York City.
In 1955 Claudia arrived, followed by Michael in 1957. She withdrew from the job world, and for several years enjoyed being a stay-at-home-mom.
In the late 1950s and the 1960s, like many other people around the world, she became alarmed by the health risks, especially for children, from radioactive fallout entering the atmosphere due to testing of nuclear weapons. In New York's Westchester County (where the family now lived, in Mount Vernon), she and a number of neighborhood mothers organized Women for Peace, dedicated to ending atmospheric testing. In August 1963, she and her compatriots saw their hope become reality when the nuclear powers signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the Senate promptly ratified and President Kennedy signed into law.
Her other cause during those Mount Vernon days was the annual Trick-or-Treat-for-UNICEF program. For four years "Mrs. Leff from UNICEF" chaired an extremely successful campaign, enlisting the support of the entire school system, the local government, and virtually the whole community.
Around 1970, she returned to engineering. By now she had narrowed her field of expertise to fire protection sprinkler systems, standpipes, and so forth. After a few years, operating out of their home, she established her own business, DML Design Service, specializing in sprinkler-system design, and bringing her skills to fire protection companies, contractors, and architects.
In 1969 the Leffs built a summer home, which she had designed, in South Hero at the tip of Grand Isle, Vt., in Lake Champlain. Whenever work and school permitted, the family enjoyed Vermontpleasures year round: swimming, sailing, canoeing, skiing, ice-skating, bicycling, hiking, gardening and everlasting friends.
In 1984 Mr. and Mrs. Leff, and DML Design Service, moved full-time to Vermont, which became home for almost 20 years. For seven of those years, she was a member of the South Hero Zoning Board of Adjustment, and contributed to the discipline and consistency of that fine volunteer-citizens body.
By 1995, however, the winters had become a bit much. So, inspired by neighbors who had taken up wintertime RVing, they bought a 23-foot "fifth wheel" trailer and a Dodge Dakota pickup, and in January 1996 headed west on the first of four six-month cross-country adventures. It was during the last of these road trips that they discovered the remarkable little city of Fairhope, and the Fairhope Unitarian Fellowship, on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. After renting there for four winters, they sold their Vermont house and moved down in 2003.
Her life-long passion for music blossomed in Fairhope. She chaired the Fellowship music committee, sang alto in the choir, and, fulfilling a long-felt desire, sang in an Eastern Shore Choral Society concert. She was a mainstay of Jam'N'Folks, a local folk music group, where she played dulcimer as well as harmonica (learned during those long hours on the open road). In every way, she embraced, and was embraced by, the Fairhope community.
Throughout those Fairhope years, they would migrate north each summer for extended visits with friends and family, savoring, among other things, their ever-deepening connections to their grandchildren.
During her final days, with Mercy Medical Hospice at home, she recognized how fortunate she was to be the recipient of such superb care, supported by health insurance Medicare, in her case. And she expressed the strong desire that quality health care be extended to all.
Survivors include her husband, Jonathan Leff; two children Claudia and Michael (Leslie) Leff; grandsons, Alex and Koby of Pennsylvania, and Jonathan of Vermont; brother, Donald of Oregon; many other close relatives across the United States and in the Czech Republic; and many dear friends whose lives she touched deeply.
The family requests memorial donations be made to the Fairhope Unitarian Fellowship, or to Mercy Medical Hospice in Daphne.
A musical memorial gathering will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 17, at the Fairhope Unitarian Fellowship, 1150 Fairhope Ave.
Published Wednesday, September 29, 2010, The Independent, Robertsdale, Alabama, Page 10A
Created by: Patricia Dunbar
Record added: Sep 28, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 59342999
Dolores Dee <i>Morin</i> Leff
Added by: Patricia Dunbar
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