Dorothy Keniston Kushious, 96, died on February 27 in Sharon, Massachusetts surrounded by her family. Born on October 24, 1926 on a dairy farm in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Dorothy was the seventh daughter of Martha and Everett Keniston. Her lifetime spanned nearly a century - from a childhood without electricity or indoor plumbing during The Great Depression, through her great-grandmotherhood active on social media well into the 21st century.
Enthusiasm and an enduring ethic of service to others inhabited every era of Dorothy’s life - all accomplished through her trademark tenacity, directness, clarity of purpose, and a love of laughter.
Growing up in Plymouth, Dorothy’s drive and love of education were apparent early on. She attended Sargent School, a one-room schoolhouse adjoining her parents’ farm, where her mother was the only teacher of 8 grade levels. Dorothy nearly overtook some of her sisters in school, completing her senior year of high school at the age of 16 and choosing as the quote for her Plymouth High School yearbook: “Work! Work! Work!” She went on to graduate from Plymouth State in 1946 before the age of 20, and eventually earned a Master’s degree in education from Boston University.
Dorothy taught mathematics and music in several New Hampshire school districts, where many of her subsequent high school students returning from WWII to finish school were already years her senior. Subsequently, she was hired to teach in Portsmouth, New Hampshire by David Kushious, Director of Music for the Portsmouth Schools. After an opportunity landed Dorothy at the Henry Barnard School in Providence, Rhode Island, David soon followed. They married in 1958 and bought a house in Warwick, where they raised their two children, Lisa and Paul.
Dorothy and Dave loved music and were a vital part of the Rhode Island musical community, presiding over many concerts, shows, and in-home chamber music. They instilled this love of music in their family, paving Lisa and Paul’s path into performance and teaching. Lisa is a pianist and Associate Professor of Music at Wheaton College in Norton, MA. Paul is a cellist in the Cleveland Orchestra and teaches chamber music at Oberlin College Conservatory. Lisa’s husband, Victor Romanul, is a long-time violinist in the Boston Symphony, and Paul’s wife, Heidi Ruby-Kushious, is a long-time flutist in the Columbus Symphony.
As Dave’s health deteriorated over many years, Dorothy continued to be a dynamic patron in musical pursuits while focusing on the most devoted of caretaking for Dave and a growing number of grandchildren. Some years after Dave’s passing in 1987, Victor’s father, Dr. Flaviu Romanul, and Dorothy found more in common than shared grandchildren by spending many happy years together in Warwick - attending concerts, traveling, and enjoying sunsets in Mashpee, Massachusetts. When Flaviu passed in 2017, Dorothy relocated to Sharon.
In addition to music, Dorothy loved the color red, hot black coffee, and ice cream. Most of all, Dorothy loved people, especially children, and was devoted to her seven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and several honorary grandchildren she took under her wing throughout the different areas of her life. She was their most enthusiastic cheerleader, always seeking out their news, showering them with affection, and advocating the importance of education - through formal schooling, through reading, or simply through an ever-present curiosity about the world.
Once, in her role as a volunteer child advocate in the Court Appointed Special Advocates program, Dorothy had reviewed a report submitted by a judge at a hearing in the Juvenile Court. A teacher to the end, she thought that the judge’s report would benefit from copious revisions to grammar, spelling, and usage, all noted in the red ink of her distinctive hand.
“I will be perfectly happy to address the court, your honor, once he has seen fit to address us correctly in the English language!”
“Thank you, Mrs. Kushious. I very much appreciate your confidence in me,” responded the judge with a sincere grin.
We suspect Dorothy already has them grinning in her new adventure.
Dorothy was preceded in death by her sisters Ruth Keniston, Barbara Hutchins, Katherine Tullar, Marjorie Plaisted, Marguerite Fenton, and Martha Keniston; her husband of 29 years, David Kushious; and husband of 15 years, Flaviu Romanul. Dorothy is survived by her daughter Lisa Romanul and son-in-law Victor Romanul, her son Paul Kushious and daughter-in-law Heidi Ruby-Kushious, her grandchildren: Iliana, Devin, Nicholas, Sara, Emilia, Jeremy, and Dustin, her great-grandchildren: Jack, Eleanor, and Charles, and several nieces and nephews.
Funeral and burial services will be held on Saturday March 4, 2023 at 11:00am in Swan Point Cemetery's Historic Chapel Providence, Rhode Island. All are welcome.