Dorothy T. Distefano
October 14, 1925- November 9, 2023
VISITATION begins on Monday, November 27th at 9:30am at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 5801 Oak Hills Drive, followed by MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL at 11am. Graveside Service: Monday, 2:30pm, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
To view a live broadcast of the Mass, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.
Dorothy’s 98 years are a tapestry of celebration, song, and resilience. At the age of ten, Dorothy and her eight-year-old brother, John, danced the polka on various stages where coins were tossed from onlookers. Their mother, Helen, would gather these to help with family expenses. Their home stood not far from train tracks, and many evenings she and her siblings would venture down and collect coal they would find and bring home for their furnace.
Dorothy attended Jungman Elementary, followed by Omaha South. She also received her sacraments at St. Agnes Catholic Church. At the age of fifteen, Dorothy began plucking chickens at Swanson’s in downtown Omaha. She had an amazing voice and began singing with a local jazz band at the age of seventeen.
A few years later she met Yano, the son of Sicilian immigrants. Their love bridged the divide between her Polish-Bohemian heritage and his Italian family’s initial cultural hesitance. Dorothy later won them over when she became a master of the Italian cuisine. Goodarooni (double crust pizza) and Bastha co ZOO goo with Boo Bet these (spaghetti sauce and meatballs) were among her specialties. Cannoli was expected near Easter every year. These recipes now are a part of her legacy, which continues through the hands of her children.
Dorothy and Yano had four children: Sandy, Patty, Mike, and Sue. Yano and Dorothy relished league bowling and dancing when they could. They’d glide and jive to the jitterbug and polkas, leaving everyone watching in awe. On occasion they would play card games like pinochle with friends, and Dorothy would make sure plenty of food and drinks were on hand. Yano passed away at 61, leaving Dorothy a widow at 58. She built a new chapter with a new home in Millard, one she resided in for over 33 years. She was one not to sit still. She began cleaning homes with her daughter Sue until she was 85. At the same time, in the evenings, she would sew, crochet, and needle point to make creations to sell at local boutiques and craft fairs. Baseball was another of her loves. She attended many little league games, college world series games, and rooted tirelessly for her Kansas City Royals. Her 90th birthday remains etched in memory. A day when her name glimmered across Kauffman Stadium marquee and she was given a game ball and certificate. Whenever Dorothy was asked what her secret to longevity was, she would answer with a twinkle in her eye, “Every night before dinner, I have a shot of beer.” Perhaps it’s not in the drink, but in the spirit of living with such zest that her secret truly lay. Each of us have our own unique memory of Dorothy we will hold in our hearts always.