Dorothy Jean Marsh, a singer who performed from the 1940s to the late '70s, died Wednesday of heart failure. She was 83.
Mrs. Marsh, of Conneautville and formerly of McKeesport, performed as "Dottie Kaler" and "Dottie Marsh" in a career that took her throughout the country to sing big band favorites of the day.
She took up singing after graduating from McKeesport High School and meeting her husband, the late Charles Joseph Marsh, who formed the Ward Kaler Quartet. During Mrs. Marsh's early career, she traveled to each of the continental 48 states and sang at one point for famous band leader Tommy Tucker.
But most importantly to her children, Mrs. Marsh made sure being a mother had priority over being a singer.
Once she had children, Mrs. Marsh cut back her tour schedule, restricting her performances to Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. A son, Charles Jr., recalled that when his parents would leave him with a baby sitter for the night to go to a singing gig, Mrs. Marsh would always be there in the morning to wake him.
She performed frequently at the Swedish Singing Society in McKeesport, where her daughter, Linda Lee Ehrenfeld, occasionally watched.
"She had an incredible voice," Mrs. Ehrenfeld said. "It was amazing to hear her sing. She always had a crowd."
Mrs. Marsh also would constantly sing around the house -- Charles Jr.'s favorite was "You Can't Take That Away from Me" -- when she wasn't entertaining a crowd.
At home, the crowd included many pets, some of whom were treated like members of the family. Charles Jr. recalled Mrs. Marsh's affinity for small dogs. Family chihuahuas and Chinese pugs would eat at the dinner table with the children.
"I called them ankle biters," Charles Jr. said with a laugh.
"She was a joyous person. She enjoyed singing and entertaining people, just a sweet lady."
In addition to Mrs. Ehrenfeld, of Linesville, Crawford County, and Charles Jr., of Sewickley, Westmoreland County, Mrs. Marsh is survived by another son, Alan Kaler, and seven grandchildren.
She was buried yesterday.
Daniel Malloy can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1731.