Dorothy Valintis, nee Flaiz, age 79, a long time resident of Addison, Illinois who had a piece of her heart in France, has passed away. She answered to many names: Dot to Joe, Mom to Mark and Jenn, Amie to her 6 grandchildren, Dotty to family and friends, Dorothy to her professional groups, and Madame to her students. She was born to Eugene “Ike” and Rosemary Flaiz (née Ridder) in Hannibal, MS. Along with her family, including siblings Betty, Dick and Nancy, she moved across the United States from Quincy, IL to Indianapolis, IN, Cheyenne, WY and then to Maywood, IL. Dorothy graduated from Siena High School in Chicago where she distinguished herself in basketball and after high school, she entered the Sisters of Mercy. She made many friends as she studied French and prepared for a life of service. Crucial to mastering the language, she was sent to live in France for a year. Following this enriching experience, she became a member of the teaching faculty at St. Xavier’s. It was quite an achievement for one so young. She was cultured and intellectual but she was also fun. She was known to her peers for harboring bottles of wine which she generously shared with her friends. In 1968, Dotty left the community and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where she received her Masters Degree in French. While rooming with her lifelong friend Char, she regularly engaged in all night conversations trying to figure out the mysteries of life outside the convent in the 60s.
Dorothy began teaching French at Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago. It was there she fell in love with Joseph “Joe” Valintis, a math teacher down the hall, who she eventually married. She then started her career in the public schools at Glenbrook South teaching up until her son Mark was born. She took time off to stay home with her children, adding daughter Jennifer “Jenn” a couple years later. During her time at home, she enjoyed countless hours of reading board books, singing, playing the piano (Mark and Jenn can probably play Fur Elise just by memory of listening to her practice it), listening to Puff The Magic Dragon, and doing countless art projects. She was her own Pinterest account before Pinterest existed with all the creative things she dreamed up for the kids to do and explore.
Once her children started school, she began teaching part time in the Elmhurst School District and soon after moved to full time at York High School. During her time there, she not only formed many close friendships with her colleagues, but also with her students that have continued on to this day as she still receives invitations to their college graduations, weddings, baby showers and the like. She officially retired in 2001 but never stopped being a teacher and never stopped helping people.
During retirement, she did anything but relax. She always made sure she had a clear purpose and she knew early on in life that she wanted to make an impact on the world and used retirement to continue doing so. She followed her passion and traveled extensively. She loved learning and experiencing new things and meeting new people. She loved art and culture and made time to get to operas, art museums and plays. She was an active member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She spearheaded their Dare To Dream conference focused on empowering Latina girls and their mothers to create an educational goal. She canvassed neighborhoods for political candidates she believed in. She, along with her husband, joined friends Betty and Charlie who started a nonprofit called ChildrenUP that focuses on building the lives of children in Uganda by providing post-primary education. In testament to her work there, there is a little girl running around in Uganda right now named after Dorothy as her mother Nancy, a student in the program, was so moved by their relationship and her support. She retired from her work there on the Board in 2018.
Her greatest joy in retirement was getting her title as “Amie”, grandma to Kylie, Myles, Aliyah, Joseph, Lillian and Juliette. She lived this role to the fullest and excelled as a swing pusher, Chomp master, French tutor, Old Maid player, pancake maker, buttercream frosting mixer, face paint model, back scratcher and always won any competition with the grandkids on who could tread water the longest. Even in her last few years when it was harder to get up and down and move around, she never let any pain in her knee or hip stop her from getting down on the ground to work a puzzle with the kids or let them all climb on her lap to snuggle and eat their toe sandwiches.
Dorothy was preceded in death by her father, Eugene, her mother, Rosemary, and her younger sister, Nancy and brother-in-law Terry Trent. She is survived by her husband Joseph, her children Mark (Bianca) and Jenn (Bob) Youakim, her grandchildren Kylie, Myles, Aliyah, Joseph, Lillian and Juliette, her sister Elizabeth “Betty” Trent , her brother Richard “Dick” (Mary Ann) Flaiz, numerous cousins, nieces and nephews and countless friends.
A visitation will be held Saturday, May 4, 2019, 12:00 noon until 4:00 p.m. with a funeral service at 3:30 p.m. at Gibbons Funeral Home, 134 South York Road, (½ mile North of Saint Charles Road) Elmhurst. Memorial contributions can be made to the nonprofit they poured so much time and love into: ChildrenUP, 481 W. Alma Avenue, Elmhurst, Illinois 60126.