Brea Old and New: Tick-Tock, History Isn't So Boring After All™ ~ Charlie the Clock

Dorothy Rooney, 96, beloved sister, mom, grandmother, and friend to many, dies

5 years ago by in ( Old/New , Welcome to Brea )

Dorothy Rooney, 30 year Brea resident, passed away July 31. She spent most of her youth living in an orphange (courtesy Bill Rooney)

    Thirty year Brea resident Dorothy Mildred Rooney passed away on July 31 at the age of 96. She is survived by her son, Martin; his wife Tanya; her daughter Ann; two grand children, Patrick and Colleen; and a brother, Clifford Queen.

      Born in Philadelphia, in 1917, Dorothy spent a large part of her youth living at St. Vincent’s Orphanage along with her brother. Their mother abandoned both children and their father was in the navy away at sea for months at a time.

        Dorothy had fond memories of her father visiting. She often spoke about how her father would bring ice cream for the two of them and they would enjoy it seated outside on the curb. Sometimes when her father was on shore leave, he would take both of them to the boarding house where he stayed, and they would play with the player piano; Dorothy working the keys and Clifford under the bench working the peddles. Their favorite song was from 1922, “Hey Buddy”

          At 16-years-old Dorothy decided to strike out on her own. In the years following, she had many jobs and lived in many different places such as Washington DC, and North Carolina. Finally in 1940, she made her way to Los Angeles to be near her brother, who was stationed at Camp Pendleton for his basic training before heading off to fight in WWII.

            She joined the war effort and worked at Douglas Aircraft Co. in Santa Monica. There she learned to operate every machine on the floor. Due to her petite size, one of her jobs was to crawl into the ‘fraidy hole” and vacuum out any debris before the plane was towed to the flight line.

            Dorothy and Bill Rooney (courtesy the Rooney family.)

              She was also air raid warden and supervised neighborhood blackout drills for the Office of Civil Defense. While attending a USO Dance at the Palladium in Los Angeles in 1944, she met her future husband William Rooney, a sailor with the Merchant Marines. She recalled standing on a stairway and seeing this handsome young man walking in and she told her girlfriends to take a good look at her future husband! They were married in 1946 when the war ended.

                Dorothy was able to care for her brother who was wounded many times during the war, earning a Purple Heart.

                  The Rooney’s had a son Martin and a daughter, Ann. Bill got a job with Hughes Aircraft Company in Fullerton, and the family resided in Whittier. In 1964, the Rooney’s moved to Placentia.

                    After Bill’s death, Dorothy moved to Brea and joined the workforce after an absence of 33 years. Hughes Aircraft gave Dorothy a position in the plan room, and she loved every minute of it. She made new friends, joined new clubs – even taking up land sailing at the age of 63. By that time, she was a grandmother to two grandchildren and doting on them both was her favorite job. For most of the past 2 decades of Dorothy’s life she lived at Brea Woods Senior Apartments. The last few years she spent with her family. A private memorial service was held on August 12, 2014, at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery.

                      Told by Tanya and Martin Rooney.

                        Any news give Susan Gaede a jingle (714)529-8561 or e-mail her at
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"Thank you" for visiting Beautiful Brea Old & New (BBON). First & foremost, I am a proud mother & wife. I am also a well-rounded freelance consultant. But you can call me an enthusiastic cheerleader, supporting and promoting the city of Brea and its historic iconic Charlie's Clock turned "Charlie the Clock cartoon character!" Click on the front page illustration to read about the beloved time traveling talking clock!!

  • Carolyn Campbell

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