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  • Writer's pictureJeny Mueller

Dorothy Mary Cane

Updated: Jan 5, 2022

Born: July 20, 1917; Ontonagon, Michigan

Died: September 28, 1997; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Father: Augustus Columbus Cane (1892-1964)

Mother: Mabel Ellen Johnson (1897-1990)

Siblings: Arnold Joseph (1914-1968)

Robert Augustus (1926-1968)

Ralph Thomas (1939-living)

Spouse: William Kelly (1913-1986)

Children: Mary Sherin (Holton) (1939-living)

Patricia Ann (Bammel) (1944-2015)

Dorothy Catherine (Mueller) (1950-living)

Relationship: My maternal grandmother

Dorothy Mary Cane, or Grandma Kelly, as my sister and I called her, was born and raised in a small upper peninsular town of Ontonagon, Michigan. Her father's family was one of the first families of Ontonagon while her mother was a daughter of immigrants from Denmark and Sweden.

Dorothy with her brother, Arnold.

Dorothy apparently failed kindergarten but skipped seventh grade as student in Ontonagon, Michigan. Dorothy grew up on Greenland Road - just across the street from the school. Her mother, Mabel, sold the home in 1971, and then in early 2000's, it was torn down to build a new bridge. There were no addresses on homes in Ontonagon until the 1960's.

Dorothy graduated from Ontonagon High School in 1934.

Ontonagon High School Building as looked in the 1930's.

In 1934-'35, Dorothy attended school at College of St Teresa in Winona, Minnesota.

Dorothy's Yearbook - She is 5th row, 2nd from left

In 1935-'36, Dorothy attended the one year Dental Hygienist program at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dorothy said she her class was the first of the dental hygiene program, but from what the MU yearbook wrote, Dorothy was part of the 11th class of dental hygienist.

*Images below are from Dorothy's Marquette University Yearbook

Dorothy is front row, second from left

Front row, second from left

After she graduated college, Dorothy moved to Detroit. In 1937, Detroit's population was 1,568,662. Ontonagon's population was about 1,900. From stories I've heard, Dorothy wanted to get out of a small town and live in big city with all the excitement.

Below are images from the 1937 Detroit City Directory.

In 1936, Dorothy worked as a switchboard operator for the Detroit Red Wings. She broke her arm learning how to ice skate and there were some fun articles about her and the Red Wings!

In 1937, Dorothy lived at 884 Lothrop St. I don't believe that house is still standing today as highways were built and redirected. She worked as a dental hygienist for Dr. Raymond L Girardot.

Dr. Raymond L Girardot was born in 1887 in Detroit and married Loretto Morrisey in 1920. Dr Girardot's dental office was located on the 5th floor of the Fisher Building in Detroit. The Fisher building is located at the intersection of Lothrop and 2nd Ave (one block west of Woodward Ave). In 1932, Dr Girardot was named Vice Dean of the University of Detroit's new dental school. In 1939, he was President of the Detroit Dental District. Dental hygienists was a newish occupation in 1937, and Dr Girardot was quite progressive hiring one - and it happened to be Dorothy.



Historic Fisher Building - downtown Detroit

Apparently, Dorothy got engaged during her time in Detroit. However, no one in the family seemed to remember his name if Dorothy even mentioned it. Also, sometime in 1936-1937, Dorothy bought a single train ticket and traveled across the country by herself. How adventurous for a single woman to do that in the 1930's! Dorothy told my mother that when she came back from that trip, her roommate sold all of her belongings!

Dorothy would visit her parents in Ontonagon frequently between 1936-1938. During one of the visits, my mother thinking it was summer of 1938, is when Dorothy met William Kelly. In August 1938, Dorothy stayed in Ontonagon for a few weeks as she had to get her tonsils removed. (I had to remove my tonsils in my late 20's too and it was one of the most painful recoveries. I can't imagine how it would be in the 1930's!)


On September 14, 1938, Dorothy and William Kelly eloped. They were married in Dubuque County, Iowa.

*Information about William Kelly will be in his own blog post later on*

Oct 11 1938

William and Dorothy

William and Dorothy remained in Ontonagon for a couple years after they were married.

On September 11, 1939, their first child was born - Mary Sherin Kelly. (She goes by Sherin).

In 1940, William worked as a clerk for the US Forest Ranger Office. Dorothy, William and Sherin all lived at the forest ranger's office. Also living in the same building was Raymond Osborne - the forest ranger for Ontonagon.

It it was around 1942 when Dorothy and William moved back to Detroit. (Dorothy gave William an ultimatum as she really wanted to leave that small town). William and Dorothy built a house on the west side of Detroit - 10426 Lanark St. Pictures below are from in 2012.

On April 27, 1944, Dorothy gave birth to her second child - Patricia Ann Kelly.

Between the birth of Sherin and Pat, Dorothy had a ruptured tubal pregnancy that went gange green. This was before antibiotics so she was in and out of the hospital for a very long period of time. She would spend weeks in a hospital as they tried to cure it.

On June 12, 1950, Dorothy gave birth to Dorothy Catherine Kelly - my mother.

William started working for Hawthorne Metal in Royal Oak in April of 1956. After about 15 years in Detroit, the Kelly family moved to Royal Oak on June 12, 1958 - on my mother's 8th birthday! My mother remembered that her parents didn't realize it was her birthday until after they agreed to move that day. She also remembers going out to dinner/dessert at the Norwood Inn Restaurant in Royal Oak that same night.

The house they moved into in Royal Oak was at 2214 Lloyd Ave.

In 1951, Dorothy and William bought a cottage in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada where they would spend every summer at for many years. They sold the cottage in 1974.

While Dorothy was raising three daughters in Royal Oak, she kept busy with other activities. She sewed a lot- making clothes for Sherin and Pat (not so much for Cathy), she volunteered at the YMCA teaching a sewing and craft class, volunteered as a dental hygienist and doing fluoride treatments. She met friends through playing cards - bridge clubs mostly. Her and her good friend, Mildred Bundy, would travel a lot together. She traveled to New York City, Spain, Portugal.

Dorothy and William's oldest, Sherin, graduated from Dominican High School in Detroit, in 1957.

Sherin went to Barry College in Miami, Florida for one year. When she came home after her first year, she was engaged to a sailor that she met in Miami. William was insistent that all of his daughters get a college degree. Sherin left Barry College and went to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. She met her future husband, Jim, there and broke up with the sailor via a letter.

1961 Western Michigan University

Jim Holton - 1961 Western Michigan University

William also insisted that Sherin had to use her degree for at least one year before she was to get married. Therefore, since she graduated with a teaching degree, she taught for one in Grand Rapids at Godwin Heights High School. On June 16, 1962, Sherin and Jim were married at the Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak.

Sherin and Jim had three children - Sherin Therese (Teri) b. 1963, James Gregory (Greg) b. 1964, and Kelly Marie b. 1970.

Jim passed away on January 1, 2018 in Littleton, Colorado. As of October 2021, Sherin lives in Littleton, Colorado.

Patricia Ann Kelly, Dorothy and William's second child, went to Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa. It was there where she met Brian Bammel. During Patricia's second year, she got pregnant, and she dropped out of college. Her and Brian got married in August 1964.

Pat and Brian and three children: Sean (b. 1964), Chris (b. 1966), and Catherine (Katy) b. 1976.

Pat passed away on July 12, 2015.

William and Dorothy's third child, my mother, Cathy, was born in 1950. There was a 11 year age gap between her and Sherin. Cathy attended Arthur Elementary School in Detroit from K-2 and when the family moved to Royal Oak, she went to Shrine of the Little Flower for 3-6 grades. She made a pack with her parents that she would go to a Catholic college if she could go to a public middle and high school. They agreed, and from 7-12 grades, she attended Jane Adams Middle School and graduated from Kimball High School in 1968.

She went to Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After graduation, Cathy moved back to Royal Oak and then a few years later moved back to Grand Rapids. She married William Andrew Mueller in 1984 and had two daughters - Anna (Ware) and me - Jeny!

1968 Cathy Kelly - Kimball HS Senior Photo

Dorothy's husband, William Kelly, passed away in 1986. Dorothy continued to live in Royal Oak until 1992. My dad, William Mueller, passed away in July 1991 and Dorothy moved to Grand Rapids to help my mom. She lived at Lake Forest Apartments.

Dorothy had a stroke in 1995 and she passed away a couple years later on September 28, 1997.


Newspaper Articles featuring Dorothy:



Nov 1930

Sept 1932

Feb 1933

Dec 1933

Feb 1934

Nov 1934

Dec 1934

Jan 1935

July 1935

Aug 1935

Nov 1935

Jan 1936

Dec 18 1936

May 1938

July 1938

Aug 1938

Aug 1938

Sept 1938

Sept 1938

Oct 1938

Sept 1939 - birth of Mary Sherin

June 1943

May 1944 - birth of Pat

Dec 1938

Dec 1939

Aug 1966

Aug 1937

June 1936

Sept 1945

Jan 1941 - William Kelly - honorable mention

April 1970

Dec 1936

Jan 1990


Historical Documents Featuring Dorothy Cane:

1920 US Census - Cane Family - Line 42

1930 US Census - The Cane family line #5

1940 US Census - William and Dorothy Kelly - line #30

Marriage certificate - William Kelly and Dorothy Cane

1960 Royal Oak City Directory

1937 Detroit City Directory

WWII Registration Card

WWII Registration Card - pg 2


Dorothy holding Cathy

L-R , Sherin, Dorothy, and William

Dorothy in front of the Royal Oak House

Sherin, Dorothy, and Cathy in front of the Royal Oak house

L-R - Sherin, Cathy, and William

L-R: Jim Holton's bestman, Cathy, Dorothy, Sherin, Pat, William...

Cottage in Kingsville, Ontario

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