When Dorothy Boniface passed away on Aug. 8, 2011, at the age of 87, she left behind a legacy of love, strength, and dedication that will continue through the generations.
Dorothy Estelle Goldsmith grew up in Philadelphia and was one of four children raised by a single mom. After she graduated from Pine Bush High School in 1941, she married Edward “Ted” Boniface. He was working in Connecticut at the time.
“With $4 in their pocket, off they went to married life in Bridgeport,” said daughter Holly Bodnar. “When my dad enlisted into the Navy, they came back to Pine Bush and bought their first home. He left the young mother of two to go fight in World War II. The house was a kind of fixer-upper. There was only a manual cold water pump faucet in the kitchen. There was an outhouse, and while my dad was away in the military, mom had to live like that. But as soon as dad got home, he installed water, a water heater and a bathroom right away, so she always kind of joked that she was tougher than he was.”
Over the years, the couple had four boys and two girls, eventually followed by 21 grandchildren, 39 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. Many family members continue to work for the family business.
“Mom was extremely devoted to her family,” Steve Boniface said. “When they were working at Pine Bush Equipment, she would leave work at 4 in the afternoon and run home get dinner together so there was a hot home-cooked meal, including dessert, on the table. You had to be home for dinner.”
Donna Boniface noted that her mother always wanted to make sure that everyone had good memories. Every occasion was an opportunity to celebrate, even if it was just Washington’s birthday. She loved to bring the family together for every holiday, even when Christmas dinner meant 50 people around the table. Her family was very important to her. One of her main goals was to keep them together.
Dorothy passed on the love of a celebration with family to her children and grandchildren, as well.
“None of us have the energy that she had, but we all have different attributes,” Holly said. “For years, she used to make all of our customers homemade fudge and cookies. Literally hundreds of pounds of candy and cookies would roll out of our house. I don’t know how she could manage it and still come to work. But she made sure that was instilled in all of us. We still make her popcorn balls at Christmastime, we still do fudge, and we still bake cookies. We still get together, and we find occasions to bring our family and our customers and our friends together. We see that in the grandchildren and how they bring their friends and their family…they’re just as involved as she was.”
In addition to family, a good work ethic was very important to Dorothy.
“When they started Pine Bush Equipment, my mother ran the business,” said Donna “She was there every day, and she worked hard. She was the bookkeeper, she was the parts, and service manager…she ran the business, while Dad was on the road selling equipment. When Dad was in the excavation business, she would go out and drive the dump truck, and she’d have three or four of us in the cab with her while she ran the dump truck.”
Holly noted that she loved watching her mother work, and that there was nothing that she wouldn’t take on or try.
“If she decided that she was going to do it, she would do it,” she said. “She would get up at the crack of dawn, and she’d be up until the wee hours of the morning. She was just not afraid to take on anything. She also did collections for PBE, and that was her biggest claim to fame. It is what the customers will remember her best for. She wasn’t afraid to get up at 4 in the morning and call customers, because when they were sleepy they were more honest or to drive out to their home or catch them on the job site. You knew where you stood with her — she didn’t pull any punches. She was extremely honest, and she expected people to be honest with her.”
Holly also noted that her mother could go toe-to-toe with any man in a man’s world.
“For a woman to be in a construction equipment distributorship and be so involved and engaged and have that kind of respect was unusual,” she said. “At the same time, this tough as nails business woman would stop and pick you up in her arms when you had a boo-boo or take the time in the middle of the night to make you a costume for school. She was so well-rounded. There wasn’t anything she couldn’t do or handle. She was definitely way ahead of her time.” CEG
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