Dorothy Corr grew up in Pennsylvania but went to the beach in New Jersey every summer. So when she was old enough to pick a place to live, she knew exactly what she wanted - a beach.

She and her husband, Frank, chose Brigantine after they both survived World War II - he in the U. S. Army and she in the Red Cross, where the former college athlete was a recreation specialist. Her job was helping wounded Americans recover from their injuries, and her cases at a British hospital included her future husband, who was being treated for hand wounds when they met.

Frank, or Reds, who died in 1999, made his career at Atlantic City Electric Co. And Dottsie - that's just one nickname, she was also Mumsy to her son and daughter - made her mark on her chosen hometown as a Brigantine gym teacher. She did that job for 20 years or so, then when she retired, she went right back to work at a Somers Point nursing home.

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But she also had retired from that job when she died last month, at 96.

"I just know she loved the beach," said her daughter, Frannie Schoonover, of Wilmington, Del., who grew up less than a block off the sand in Brigantine and recalls that every summer, "We just lived on the beach. ... I don't think we had shoes on our feet from the day school let out" until it opened again in September.

Her mom made an impression on a generation of sneakered Brigantine kids in her phys-ed class, but her school colleagues also enjoyed her.

"Anytime you got together with Dot, you knew you'd have tears coming down from your eyes before you left - from laughter," said Bill Schoppy, 76, of Egg Harbor Township, who worked 12 years with her in the 1960s and '70s.

He can't forget one incident, when he set up a pair of parallel bars in a bad spot - on the toe of his colleague and "second mother. ... There was no crying, but she reminded me of that for the next 15 years," Schoppy said.

And Dottsie had some tough feet - from decades of exercising with beach walks. Son Mike Corr, now of San Diego, said once, his mom and her longtime Brigantine buddy, the late Mary Holst, were out for an evening walk when they fell into a beach sinkhole. They couldn't get out for the longest time - mainly because they were laughing too hard to crawl out, as he got the story.

Dottsie had to move out of Brigantine a few years ago, to a retirement facility near her daughter. But her services were back home in Brigantine, and it was the first time one old friend was ever "at a funeral where the deceased got a big round of applause at the end from everyone there, for a life well-lived," said Jeannie O'Hagan, who worked with Dottsie at Ocean Point Nursing Home in Somers Point.

Contact Martin DeAngelis:


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