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Although Mom had such a big heart, it finally gave out on her late Wednesday night, October 11th. She left peacefully at her home with her sons, Scott (me) , Kevin and their little dog Carley.
Margaret (Marge to her friends and co-workers, Dolly to her family and classmates, Mom to my brother and me and Mimi to her grandchildren) was truly born a coal miner’s daughter in the US Steel coal town of Lynch in Harlan County, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Joe and Rose Saltess and younger sister of Billy Joe (Janet) who have pre-deceased her. Dolly was the proud granddaughter of Hungarian immigrants who came to America in the 1890s. Although the family names were changed from Basci to Bosch and Soltess to Saltess, the families settled in the hills of Appalachia, dug coal and forged lives for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that could only be dreamed about when those ships landed at Ellis Island in 1898.
Mom was extremely proud of her Harlan County heritage and being from Lynch. Like so many towns in Eastern Kentucky, Lynch and the mines of Harlan County helped produce the coal that fueled America’s factories and steel mills during World War II and the industrial boom that followed. Her father served in WW I and many of her uncles and cousins served in WW II and Korea. Mom valued the freedoms those men fought for and stayed very concerned and active with women’s and fundamental civil rights issues.
Even though Mom was born in the middle of the Great Depression and her family lived on coal miner’s wages, her family life was very rich, and she had a wonderful childhood. The Bosch and Saltess families were very large and loving. On the Bosch side of the family, Mom had 4 aunts and 6 uncles and on the Saltess side, she had 5 uncles and 1 aunt. Mom grew up surrounded by aunts and uncles and cousins who were like brothers and sisters to play with in the mountains and Looney Creek. Today, there is the Saltess Trail at Kingdom Come State Park. A unique aspect of Lynch was that it was such a small close-knit community of families and friends, that almost everyone had a nickname. There was Bud, Sis, Batman, Corkey, Little Bit, Monkey Sam, Pig, Stich, Ketchup, Chigger, Shine, Horney, June Bug and so many more. Being the youngest girl of her family, Mom was given the nickname Dolly and it could not have been more perfect and appropriate.
As she grew into a beautiful young woman, Mom won the Mountain Laurel Queen pageant and was on numerous homecoming courts, but some her favorite memories were the many days and nights she spent at football and basketball games as a cheerleader for her beloved Lynch High Golden Bulldogs who were an absolute football powerhouse in the 50s, and the dances that followed. The lifelong friendships she made stayed with her and Mom stayed active with the Lynch alumni throughout her life. One of her greatest enjoyments was keeping up with the “Grand Ole Dogs” via Facebook and going back to Lynch and attending class reunions. Once Mom graduated from Lynch in 1953, she left the mountains and started her adventure, but she always carried the coal dust in her soul.
After graduating, Mom moved to Lexington where her avid passion for University of Kentucky sports continued. She enrolled in the Good Samaritan School of Radiologic Technology and earned an Associates Degree and her completed her certification as a Registered Radiologic Technologist, which was an outstanding accomplishment for a woman in the 50s. She was a skilled and talented professional whose delicate touch and sense of humor helped so many patients when they were getting an x-ray for a broken bone, injury, or some sort of diagnostic evaluation especially since it was a very new technology. Mom would carry and perfect the skills she developed with her throughout her career and would pass these on to the hundreds of students she taught.
Mom briefly returned to the mountains when she accepted a job at the Hazard Hospital when she graduated from Good Sam, and this is where she met and fell in love with the man she would marry and start a family with. At a Christmas dance at the VFW, Dolly and David Porter had their first dance together and boy, could and did they dance. Mom and Dad loved to jitterbug and whenever there was a dance or wedding reception, Mom and Dad would take the floor and everyone else would watch as they moved together. It was a rhythm they carried with them throughout their marriage and even when there was a missed beat or an off-key note, Mom and Dad never broke stride and kept dancing beautifully together as partners through the good times and bad and sickness and health.
Mom and Dad were married on March 25, 1962, and in June of 1963, they welcomed their first son Scott (me) into the world. When Mom was expecting their second son Kevin, Dad accepted a position as a chemist with Schenley Distilleries in Frankfort and they moved to Frankfort, Kentucky where Mom put her career on hold to take care of her two sons who she loved unconditionally through the years. She shared in our joys, successes, triumphs, failures, nursed our injuries and broken hearts, and was always there with a hug, smile or a sharp critique and advice when it was absolutely needed. Nothing was better and more warm, welcome and comforting than one of Mom’s hugs.
With Mom taking care of the family, Dad’s career took off. He was soon promoted to Chief Quality Control chemist and the family moved to Lawrenceburg, Indiana and the family expanded by two quirky poodles. From then on, Mom would never be without a dog, and there truly was no luckier dog than one of Dolly’s.
Mom resumed her career when Kevin and I started school and soon was named the Head X-Ray tech at the Dearborn County Hospital and managed to keep the household running while Dad’s job forced him to travel to the different Schenley plants throughout the country and world. Mom always enjoyed traveling with Dad to conferences, conventions and some of the cities where the plants were, and they had the vacation of a lifetime when they got to go to Spain and Portugal for three weeks. Lawrenceburg was where Mom began her “team mom” phase when our little league, pewee football and grade school basketball careers began. Also, it is where Mom got to celebrate many birthdays and Mother’s Days at Reds’ games for bat day or some other type of souvenir give away, and she always acted like it was her idea her wish and idea to be there because to her, it was important just to be together as a family. She also greatly enjoyed the family outings at the Zoo or King’s Island and seeing or hearing her boys laugh and smile.
In 1975, when Dad was named Chief Chemist and Manager of Operations at George Dickel, Mom helped pack up the family and moved to Tullahoma, Tennessee where she once again stayed home with her boys to help chauffer us to ball games, practices and school events. Mom was always focused on the education of her sons and spent many hours typing and proofreading papers (some were longer than others). She loved listening to Kevin’s jokes and stories and hearing about my dreams. She also continued to pass on the faith lessons taught to her as a lifelong Catholic growing up in a community of immigrants and made sure the family was ready and in attendance for Mass every Sunday and taught high school CCD classes at St. Paul’s. Mom loved Tennessee (not the football team, remember UK) and living in the country and was involved in the Tullahoma’s Women’s Club heading up many charitable projects, especially around Christmas for the local senior citizen’s and nursing homes.
Soon though, it was time to move again as Dad was promoted to Vice President of Quality Control for Schenley in the Cincinnati headquarters. Mom helped pack up the family and move to Burlington, Kentucky. Mom proudly watched her sons play baseball and football for Conner and got to re-live some of the joy and excitement she saw growing up as a cheerleader for Lynch for Scott as Conner went to the state tournament in 1979 for baseball and was state runner-up in football in 1980 and for Kevin when his team won a state championship in football in 1983. Mom and Dad were very involved in the booster club and helped fundraise for the Conner athletics and organized and enjoyed many after-game celebrations. In Burlington, our family expanded and added a magnificent German Shephard who was very well taken care of, and Leo greatly enjoyed my Mom’s cooking.
With Kevin and me in high school and moving to college, Mom was able to resume her career and she found her ultimate job that allowed her to utilize and apply all of her skills. Mom was hired as the Chief Radiological Technologist at the University of Cincinnati Hospital and was in charge of the clinical teaching program from 1982-1990 where she taught radiologic and magnetic imaging diagnostics and passed on her skills and wealth of knowledge. She served as a teacher, mentor and clinician to students, nurses and doctors and thousands of patients. Mom relished the role as mentor and teacher, but what she enjoyed the most was when the Cincinnati Zoo would send over a large animal, like a tiger, gorilla, or chimp, that needed a specialized x-ray or large equipment. This more than made up for the numerous x-rays of me or my brother’s knees, ankles, elbow or hands that she lovingly took over the years due to our various injuries.
Mom was at the apex of her career, but what she enjoyed and relished was either entertaining when Dad had people in on business or hosting and cooking for my brother’s or my friends and fraternity brothers when they came over. She made everyone feel welcome and so comfortable and enjoyed having a house full of people. No one was a stranger to her, and she could talk about anything to anyone. Mom especially loved cooking for my friends that came home with me from law school thinking they needed a good meal, and she absolutely provided a meal and a welcoming smile and needed break.
Soon though, it was time for yet another move. Schenley was sold and relocated to Dallas, Texas and this time it was just Mom, Dad, Kevin and Leo making the move as I was engaged and ready to start my own life and family. Mom and Dad found a nice home in the country and settled into a leisurely life that they hoped for and deserved. Leo was eventually replaced with another German Shepherd who was spoiled and pampered, and when he passed, Mom and Dad added another magnificent German Shephard Tucker who was a 100-pound baby and my Mom’s personal blanket.
Mom was not cut out for retirement though and applied for and obtained licensure from the State Board in Texas to teach clinical x-ray and to work at a clinic. She continued to pass on her experience as a mentor for dozens of more students and took care of both doctors and patients at the clinic until Dad’s health required her to take care of only one, last patient.
While Mom and Dad were in Texas, Mom received her greatest treasure and that was the arrival of her three grandchildren including finally, a granddaughter. Logan, Lucas and Maddie were here absolute treasures, and nothing made her smile like seeing them on a visit or talking with them on the phone. There was quite a distance between Dallas and Louisville, but Mom’s arms were long enough to keep them close. She always said they were her beautiful reward. As Dad’s health declined, they decided to move back to Crestwood, Kentucky to be close the grandkids, Sherry and me and Kevin who had moved back to Kentucky earlier. Mom and Dad found a nice home in the country, and they settled in. They were finally back home in Kentucky and able to enjoy UK games, birthdays, ball games, Thanksgivings and especially Christmas being back together with their family after all these years. Wherever we were, Christmas was always special to Mom and she enjoyed decorating and breaking out her favorite singer Johnny Mathis’s Christmas albums, later on she added Josh Groban to the mix. One of the things Mom enjoyed the most though at Christmas was baking. Her kitchen always smelled like a pastry shop, and she made plenty of authentic Hungarian nut rolls, apricot kiffles and kolaches for everyone to enjoy.
When Dad’s health took a turn for the worse, Mom became his care giver and selflessly devoted her time to take care of him and give him comfort and compassion. Although it was tough and very difficult on her, Mom never left Dad and stayed with him letting him know he was loved and in the best hands possible until the end in 2012.
Once Dad passed and Tucker joined him, Mom added a feisty little West Highland Terrier named Maggie who she absolutely doted on. Mom also stayed busy and got very involved with the Oldham County Homemakers club, and enjoyed the projects and festivals and fairs they participated in. In addition to being an avid reader, especially Stephen King, Mom always enjoyed art and craft projects and was a talented painter. and the Homemaker’s club let her practice her hobby and use her talents. Mom also had a green thumb, and her garden was filled with bright flowers, beautiful roses and tomatoes and Hungarian wax peppers. She loved to travel with her friends for shopping outings, dinner, lunches and movies and she enjoyed visiting with her amazing and friendly neighbors and loved socializing and driving back to reunions in her prized mini-Cooper. Mom also got to experience the unconditional love of another dog one last time, as she and Kevin acquired another spunky little Westie Carley who was with Mom the entire time she was restricted to her bed and was watching over her when she passed.
During Mom’s last few years, she relished seeing and spending time with her grandchildren and enjoyed watching them grow-up, receive the sacrament of confirmation, experience the joy, excitement and pain that sports can bring, graduate grade school and high school, and move on to college and start their lives. She loved reminiscing and sharing stories with Maddie, and, despite some questionable fashion choices, she loved shopping for the grandkids. Mom was able to enjoy their last September birthdays, talk with them and sign their cards one last time and smiled while she did it.
She was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, friend, servant, steward and teacher who lived by faith and the Golden Rule and touched so many lives and set an amazing example. Mom was able to manage and balance a career and keep our home up and running, and she graciously accepted and shoulder her role as caregiver and provider for our family. Regardless of where we lived, she made our house a home and always took care of us, her dogs and especially continued to take care of Dad and Kevin. Mom was devoted to Holy Mother Mary and had her medal on when she passed. Mom also had a smile on her face which means she had her dogs waiting on her on the other side of the rainbow bridge with their tails wagging.
Now Mom and Dad have one more final move left and they finally will be together again where they can jitterbug and dance the night away and look at what they did, all of the lives they touched, the family they created and smile !!!
She is survived by her son Scott (Sherry) Porter, her beloved grandchildren Logan, Lucas and Madeline Porter, and her other son Kevin and their dog Carley.