Dorothy Kotok was an entrepreneur ahead of her time, running the family grocery store while her husband was at war and later buying a real estate agency.
While competitive and a tough negotiator, Kotok, who died Wednesday at 94, also was recalled fondly for her grace and gentleness.
“She was very accomplished as a smart woman entrepreneur,” said her son, C. David Kotok, retired World-Herald managing editor. “But people remember her for her giving nature. She had a lot of class.”
Dorothy Kotok suffered from heart complications and died in Omaha, where she had lived since 1987. Funeral services will be Friday in her hometown of St. Joseph, Mo., at 12:30 p.m. at the Shaare Sholem Cemetery.
As a young couple, Dorothy and Fred Kotok owned a grocery in St. Joe that she managed after he was drafted into war. The butcher taught Dorothy to drive the delivery truck. Often with her baby boy in her arms, she negotiated with the men in the market to get the bargain fruit and vegetables.
“Some people think I'm competitive,” said David Kotok. “I got it from my mom.”
The family moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa, where the Kotoks raised two sons and Dorothy raised prize-winning roses. She returned to work and eventually bought a real estate office, becoming the first woman to own a real estate company in that town, said David. “My dad ended up going to work for her,” he said.
The Kotoks later moved to Omaha, where Dorothy retired. She continued to play golf, was a grandmaster of bridge and loved to play cards, enjoying a game of gin rummy with a friend on Monday.
Her recipes, including one for Swedish meatballs, were called legendary by younger generations. A granddaughter even suggested passing out her chocolate chip recipe at the funeral.
Nancy Skid, a family friend, said Dorothy was an avid reader, always up on current events and involved in community organizations.
“She had P.R.; very lovely in her personal relationships,” said Skid of Omaha. “She truly exemplified the definition of lady.”
Dorothy Kotok is preceded in death by husband Fred and son Stephen. She is survived by son David and his wife, Shane, of Omaha; six grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Memorials should go to Beth El Synagogue or the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home's L.O.V.E. program, where Dorothy was an active volunteer to the elderly.
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