For the love for 'Miss Dottie': Marco Y honors the swim legend and her legacy

For the love for 'Miss Dottie': Marco Y honors the swim legend and her legacy

Gordon Campbell/Eagle Correspondent
April 27, 2013 Miss Dottie Pool Dedication Ceremony: Seated under the Dottie Weinere tiki hut and pavillion she was surrounded by an appreciative crowd of Marco friends.  Dottie was New York City’s first female lifeguard and initiated the construction of Marco’s first public pool.  A life long instructor & guard she’s taught over 10,000 people to swim and directly saved 10 lives.

Photo by GORDON CAMPBELL // Buy this photo

Gordon Campbell/Eagle Correspondent April 27, 2013 Miss Dottie Pool Dedication Ceremony: Seated under the Dottie Weinere tiki hut and pavillion she was surrounded by an appreciative crowd of Marco friends. Dottie was New York City’s first female lifeguard and initiated the construction of Marco’s first public pool. A life long instructor & guard she’s taught over 10,000 people to swim and directly saved 10 lives.

— It was tearful and joyful for “Miss Dottie” Weiner as the Greater Marco Family YMCA Aquatics Center was dedicated to her. Ceremonies were held Saturday next to the pool she helped design and raise the money to build.

Age didn’t matter, young and older praised Dottie.

“I have had many memorable experiences, but coming to Marco was the greatest of them all,” she said to an overflow crowd in and out of the spacious pavilion constructed in Weiner’s honor.

Cindy Love, YMCA chief executive officer, spoke of how Weiner has served as a mentor and swim instructor, having enriched lives for years.

Ernie Bretzmann, the YMCA’s first CEO in 1982, recalled how he and Weiner quickly bonded.

“Dottie did all she could to get a pool, which came in 1991, before the YMCA building opened in 1992,” he said. “She used peoples’ pools to teach swim lessons for 10 years. She was the only aquatic director without a pool.”

Tiffany Homuth, YMCA board president, spoke of the importance Weiner had in making “a safe and handicap accessible pool.”

Past YMCA board president Dusty Rhodes spoke of how Weiner created the first youth swim team in 1974 that drew more than 100 children and how she was there for those needing special help.

“Dottie made sure they participated in every meet,” he said. “Nobody loves kids as much as Miss Dottie.”

Marya Visser-Hedrick, 1993 YMCA president, recalled how the Marco Country Club was closing its pool and how much the YMCA pool was needed. Weiner and Visser-Hedrick, along with the Pilot Club, fought hard to raise funds.

“Look at what all it (YMCA) became, not just a pool,” she said.

Carl Titgemeier, 2003 president and board member for 16 years, said, “Dottie tried to teach me how to swim, but didn’t have much luck. She did teach my grandchildren when they came to visit.

“Her service to the Y and community is unparalleled. She is everywhere, doing anything she can for anybody. She is loved by all and raised a lot of money, not just for the Y, but many organizations.”

Jim Curran, 2004 Y board president, said, “Every time Dottie is mentioned you immediately think of the YMCA. I am convinced Dottie invented the 50-50 raffle.”

Over the years Weiner has been at many a fundraiser with her 50-50 raffle tickets, helping one organization after another.

Brielle Ramirez, 4, Sarra Hommes, 9 and 9-year-old twins Luca and Rocky

Gurgenidze joined in thanking Weiner for teaching them how to swim. The boys gave an extra thank you for the cookies she gave to the children after lessons.

Maddy Burt, who recently turned 11, was introduced, telling how Weiner was an inspiration. “She is more than a swim teacher, she is why I swim competitively,” she said. Burt told how she has qualified for the Junior Olympics for the last four years and how in February she earned the No. 1 ranking in the state in the 50-yard and 100-yard butterfly as a 10-year-old.

Marissa Mengelkoch, 14, was introduced as an example of Weiner’s teaching safe swimming. Mengelkoch is at least one of 10 children who have saved lives after Weiner taught them. At 6 years old she saved a two-year-old from drowning at a home swimming pool.

Weiner made her moment brief. She told of how her late brother Arnold an engineer, helped design the YMCA pool. How they shared the vision with Bretzmann.

“It was the beginning of a lifetime of wonderful relationships,” she said. I am proud of what it has meant to the community. The pool has been my second home. To me, it is a lifetime experience I will never forget.”

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Comments » 2

mahiman writes:

Great story! Thanks Miss Dottie!

WMissow writes:

Dottie,

Thank you for your heartfelt achievements in improving our lives and health on Marco Island! You are dear to many of us.

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