Thursday, 27 June 2013 00:00
Catherine Nolan Dillon, 91, passed away peacefully on Flag Day, Friday, June 14—a very fitting date for a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
A lifelong resident of Long Island, Catherine was born to Jim and Agnes Daly Nolan in 1922. Over the next 11 years, she welcomed her best friends and younger sisters Mary (Fagan), Eileen (Gormley) and Patricia. Catherine was a graduate of Andrew Jackson High School and Grace Institute in New York City.
In July 1943, she joined the U.S. Navy WAVES. Stationed in Washington, D.C., Catherine worked as a cryptographer in the office of the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and attended George Washington University, receiving her A.A. degree in October 1945. She reached the rank of Yeoman 1st Class, receiving the American Theater and American Victory Medals. Despite her hectic schedule, she travelled home to her family at every opportunity. (Manhasset Press readers may recall reading the account of her trip home for Christmas 1944 in her 2011 front page article).
In 1946, she was honorably discharged from the Navy and returned home to continue her studies, earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from Columbia University. In 1947, she began her teaching career in the NYC public school system. She married Thomas Dillon in 1951, and over the next 10 years, they became the parents of Anne (“Nancy”) Alexander (Vincent), Catherine, Liza, James (Randi), and Margaret (“Mugsie”) Mauro (Frank). In 1973, the family moved to Manhasset, where Catherine became an active member of St. Mary’s Parish and the Manhasset community. She remained a member of Manhasset’s American Legion Post 304 until her death.
Her home was a frequent gathering place for her extended family and friends. Sunday dinners for 20 or more were a common occurrence. She hosted the Hillcrest Avenue Christmas Party for more than 25 years, an annual St. Patrick’s Day party (featuring a spirited sing-along—complete with bagpipes, accordion, and banjo), and an annual dinner celebrating the culture of Barbados, home to two of her dearest friends. She frequently combined her clever wit and musical talents, rewriting the lyrics of a popular song to salute the guest of honor at many a special occasion. All involved were entertained as a roomful of people belted out her personalized (and very funny) parodies.
Longtime supporters of the rights of the unborn, Catherine and Tom put their beliefs into action. For many years, they opened their home to numerous young women in crisis pregnancies with otherwise unacceptable alternatives.
Catherine retired from the classroom in June of 1997. During her almost 50-year career, she taught in NYC public schools, at St. John’s University and at Sacred Heart (Cambria Heights) and St. Bernard’s (Levittown) elementary schools. In her retirement, she gave private piano lessons in her home, continuing to do so until just a few months ago. Many a Manhasset parent will recall her students’ considerable talents, featured at Spring and Christmas recitals every year. Her students brought her much joy, and she actively followed their academic and athletic careers through the pages of the Manhasset Press.
She is survived by her sister, Patricia Nolan, her five children, and her nine grandchildren.