Dorothy Apollonio

Memorial Service

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Saturday, June 18, 2022
St Paul Episcopal Church
2117 Walnut St
Bellingham, Washington, United States

Obituary of Dorothy Barrows Apollonio

On December 31, 2021, Dorothy “Debbie” Barrows Apollonio of Bellingham, Washington, passed away at the age of 77. Debbie was born on June 17, 1944, in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, to then-Captain Raymond Reed Barrows (later Lt. Colonel) and Dorothy Gianniny Barrows. Ray served during World War II and was stationed overseas when his third child was born, and Dot wasn’t sure the name she had chosen would be permanent. As a result, the infant Dorothy Ellen was called by her initials (DEB or Debbie) by adults and “sweetie pie” by her older siblings. Debbie was a year old by the time her father returned, and by then both her formal name and the nickname had stuck. After the war, Ray and Dot built a family home in Seaford, Delaware, where Debbie was raised. There was a river next to the house, and Dot worried that little Debbie might drown, so the family widened to include a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Nancy, as her protector. Little did they know that Nancy the retriever would be a land-loving dog who had no interest whatsoever in joining the children in the water. Regardless, Debbie adored her dog and remained a dog lover her entire life. Later, Ray brought home a young black Labrador Retriever, Prince, whose antics were fodder for many fond family memories—at least in retrospect. Prince chasing an errant squirrel across the top of Dot’s baby grand piano wasn’t at all funny to Dot at the time. Debbie’s father Ray was a prankster and she inherited from him a love of mischief and surprises—that is, surprises for other people. In particular, her older brother (who also inherited the prankster gene and had frequently found an easy mark in much younger Debbie) was gifted with a number of ripostes after he left for the United States Military Academy at West Point. These included sending watermelons laced with “Go Navy!” postcards during his first hot summer at the academy and playing the reveille track on the West Point album in the middle of his first night home after a year and a half away at school. Debbie struggled in school—first with seriously impaired vision undiagnosed until she was well into elementary school, and later with what she was certain was a learning disability that would have been identified and addressed if she had been educated in later years. Despite these challenges, she was proud of graduating from Wilson College, earning her CPA license, and completing a seminary course at Seattle’s Diocesan School of Theology. She was a skilled accountant and spent a lengthy career supporting small businesses and Episcopal parishes, including many years as volunteer Treasurer at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bellingham, her home parish. She was also proud of the educational and career successes of her two daughters, frequently marveling at having raised women who earned a doctorate and two Master’s degrees between them and leveraged them to build successful careers. Debbie adored children. In addition to raising her two daughters, she was a doting Nana to her grandchildren. When her grandson was born with significant sleep difficulties, she quit her job, sold her house, and moved to California to live with her daughter’s family and help with the baby. After a year and a half, things had settled sufficiently that she moved back to Bellingham, the home of her heart, where she had lived since 1976, and transitioned to part-time work until retirement. Debbie visited her children and grandchildren in San Francisco frequently for many years, and they enjoyed visiting her in Bellingham. Debbie also delighted in her three godsons with a couple in her St. Paul’s family. Debbie shared her life after leaving Seaford with many furry friends. Her first pet as an adult was a chubby calico, Tootie, who found no box too small to sit in. Debbie also rescued a German Shepherd mix, Sugar, who grew up with her children like her own first dog Nancy. Two cats joined the family after Sugar’s passing; two kittens, Callie and Theo, later took the older cat’s place. Debbie had endless patience for petting, brushing, and lap-sitting with grand-cats Iole and Pergo, and for epic tug-toy battles with grand-dog Cricket. Her last pet was a dearly loved ginger tomcat, Sam, who she rescued in 2009 and who lived with her for six years. Debbie gave generously. She volunteered her time for the American Society of Women Accountants, the Whatcom County chapter of the Girl Scouts of America (acting in the difficult logistical role of cookie chair for several years), Hope House, and her church. At St. Paul’s, in addition to her many years as Treasurer, she made candles for the sanctuary’s Advent wreaths, baked eucharistic host at home for the church every week for several years, served as a lay reader, knitted prayer shawls, served as a Lay Eucharistic Visitor, helped organize the LEV program, and supported uncountable coffee hours with her time and dozens of Bagelry bagels. She always had time for friends, celebrating with them in happy times and supporting them in difficult ones. Debbie had an adventurous soul. Although she didn’t travel much until she was older, she fit a lot of experience into the trips she took. Her first overseas trip was with her parents when they all went to visit Debbie’s sister in London at Christmas in 1964. Some twenty years later, when her children were old enough to stay with a sitter, Debbie traveled to Italy and spent hours visiting historical sites. She gamely drove both daughters all over the UK for two weeks during winter school break in 1993, when her younger daughter lived there in college. Their travels started in Reading, headed north to snowy Scotland, then moved down through the Lake District to Wales, across to Dover, and back again. When her older daughter moved to Paris in 1999, Debbie visited during the wet springtime. She was undaunted by heavy rains that made her coat bleed purple dye all over her clothes and her black pants sprout soap suds as she spent long days visiting all the places she had longed to see in the City of Lights. She carefully counted (and enthusiastically recounted!) every single step she climbed. Later she returned to the UK with her sister for genealogy study, and again with a group from St. Paul’s. Her last overseas trip came after her retirement when she joined a St. Paul’s group on a trip through Israel and Jordan in late 2014. The photos of Debbie riding a camel in Petra remain the favorite of many friends and family. She enjoyed adventures closer to home after her parenting and work responsibilities eased, notably joining Susan for a zip line trip shortly after her 72nd birthday. She was a master ping-pong hustler, having developed her skills playing her father during summer breaks from school on their screened porch in Delaware, and she delighted in surprising her grandchildren with her sneak attacks on the table. Debbie’s relaxed sense of fun continued despite the cognitive impairment that curtailed her travels in her seventies. She moved to Silverado Bellingham for memory care in mid-2017 and spent nearly five years in the gentle care of Silverado’s kind and professional associates. Even there her enthusiasm never failed, and she joined any time there was music or dancing on offer with a smile on her face. She passed away peacefully at the end of the year after a brief illness. Debbie is survived by her siblings Reed and Betty May (and spouse Don); her daughters Dorie (Matt) and Susan (Dan); nephew Reed (Kima); two grandchildren, a grand-nephew, and a grand-niece. A memorial will be held in June 2022, when the weather will permit a comfortable outdoor gathering. Those wishing to remember Debbie may visit her final resting place at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Columbarium on Walnut Street after February 2022.
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