Dorothy Elene Pettenski

January 9, 2021

Dorothy Elene Pettenski (nee Evans), formerly of Columbus, passed away at Bluebird Retirement Community in Marysville on Saturday, January 9, 2021.  Dorothy was born to Dwight and Mabel Evans November 21, 1927.  Dorothy was preceded in death by her parents, her son Michael, her brother James Evans, and her husband Louis.  Dorothy is survived by her sons David (Carole), Thomas (Patricia Merkle) and Robert (Danella) and grandchildren Nikolas, Andrew, Jackson, and Anna.

Dorothy spoke often about growing up on the west side of Columbus.  Not one to play with the “girly” girls, Dorothy was her father’s right-hand woman, always ready to help with projects around the house.  Dorothy grew up to become a jill of all trades, especially handy when it came to plumbing, but also willing to tackle anything from fixing shingles on a roof to replacing a toilet.

Dorothy graduated from West High School and The Ohio State University in 1948 with a degree in chemical engineering.  She was recognized for a perfect grade point and earned the Tau Beta Pi honor badge. She was a proud member of the Society of Women Student Architects and Engineers.  Dorothy often talked about how proud her dad was upon her graduation since he was unable to attend college himself.  Dorothy met the love of her life, Louis Pettenski, while working for General Electric in Schenectady, NY.  They married November 23, 1950 in Cleveland in blizzard conditions right before the famous OSU-Michigan “snow bowl”.  They relocated to Columbus where they raised their four boys near the OSU campus.  Whenever someone implied that something would be difficult or messy Dorothy would remark, “I raised four boys…” as if everything else would be a piece of cake.  Once all four boys were in school Dorothy returned to the work force, working for GFS Chemicals until her retirement.  Dorothy and Lou were Buckeye fans and were proud that all four of their sons graduated from OSU.

Once Dorothy retired, she took up drawing, uncovering a hidden talent for life-like portraits of wild and domesticated animals done in colored pencil. Many a friend commissioned a portrait of their beloved dog or cat.  Dorothy was an accomplished seamstress and knitter, always ready with a new pair of booties when she heard someone was having a baby.  She and Lou became certified Master Gardeners and were founding members of the volunteer program at OSU’s Chadwick Arboretum.  They enjoyed travel and socializing and taking classes at the Martin Janis Senior Center. Despite their many interests, Dorothy and Lou always found time to attend their grandchildren’s sporting events.

In 2008 Dorothy and Lou took their gardening to the next level, relocating to their 43-acre farm near Marysville.  They became fixtures at the Marysville library, bank, restaurants, and senior center.  They made friends wherever they went and were known for their stories and spirited discussions.  In fact, a waitress once told Dorothy that if they knew each other when they were younger, they probably would’ve served time together.

Dorothy will be remembered for her intelligence, quick wit, and no-nonsense approach to life. As most mothers, Dorothy had a collection of classic phrases like, “If I have to quit my job to stay home with you brats…”; “That irks my soul”; “You make a better door than window”; “Children should be seen and not heard”; and “Why don’t you take a long walk off a short cliff?” that she invoked when her sons were misbehaving.  But her signature phrase was “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.” After Lou’s death in 2018 Dorothy remained on the farm with her precious canine companion, Buddy, until failing health necessitated a move to Bluebird.

Per Dorothy’s wishes, she will be cremated and her ashes will be spread under her favorite tree at her beloved farm.  There will be no funeral service, however a celebration of life will be held once it is safe to gather.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Chadwick Arboretum Fund or The Ohio State University Women in Engineering Program.  To donate online, go to and follow the prompts.  Enter “one-time” or “monthly” then click on “give today” and select “search” to enter the fund number.  Use Fund #306837 to donate to Chadwick Arboretum or Fund #306483 to donate to OSU Women in Engineering. Checks may be sent to Chadwick Arboretum Fund: P.O. Box 710811 OSU Foundation, Columbus, OH 43271.  Be sure to reference Fund # 306837 in the memo section. For assistance call Jenifer Heller at (614) 247-8754. To share a special memory of Dorothy with her family or send condolences, please visit


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