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Natale Joseph D'Oria

February 21, 1925 ~ July 26, 2023 (age 98) 98 Years Old



Natale “Dee” Joseph D’Oria, 98, of Lake Norman, N.C., passed away at his family home on Wednesday morning, July 26, 2023. He was predeceased by his wife, Mabel Alma D’Oria née Daughtridge. He is survived by his daughter Bonnie Hamrick of Cornelius, N.C.; son Gary D’Oria of Chandler, AZ.; son Dennis D’Oria of Frankfurt, Germany; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Natale was a beloved mentor, uncle, father, and grandfather who will be dearly missed by those whose lives he touched. He was known by many names through his life: he was Dee, Polly, Tolly, and Peepa to the many friends and family members who held him dear. The devoted pets whom he rescued and on whom he doted throughout his life – including Kaiser, Kitty, Gretel, Buddha, Keida, Cody, Charlotte, and Troy – presumably knew him by no names; but they loved him no less dearly for that.

Dee was born in Utica, N.Y., to Italian immigrant parents, Donato D’Oria and Angelina DiRenzo D’Oria, on Saturday, February 21st, 1925. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the young age of 17. Dee served honorably on five ships in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, European, and Pacific theaters of World War II. He was decorated with numerous campaign medals, as well as the China Service Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal, and the Good Conduct Service Medal. He was discharged from the Navy after the end of the war as a Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class.

Dee documented his experiences in the War with his faithful camera: the No. 1A Autographic Kodak Jr. Dee’s many photographs of the war provide an invaluable firsthand record of the most turbulent time the world has ever known. His camera followed him the rest of his life: Dee never stopped documenting on film his rich experiences of the world. His adopted role as family historian made it a rare sight to see him on outings without camera in hand. His many photographs now constitute a detailed record of a life well-lived and well-loved.

After his service in the Navy, Dee received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in business from Strayer College, now Strayer University, in Washington, D.C. Dee was a first-generation student: the first of his family to receive a college degree. He set a strong example for his children, all of whom went on to receive degrees in higher education.

Dee’s life of public service continued in both his career and his extensive volunteer work. Dee was employed by the U.S. Veterans Administration, the National Bureau of Standards, the Federal Civil Defense Administration, and the Budget and Financial Division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he eventually received the title of Director. Dee was particularly grateful for his 35 years at the Department of Commerce, which afforded him the opportunity to see the world again through fresh eyes and outside of a military context. His children fondly remember Dee’s eagerness to discover souvenirs and treasures from around the world to bring home for them.

Dee was a member of Lions Clubs International for over 40 years and he later joined American Legion Post #86. He was proudest of his instrumental role in organizing construction of the Cornelius Veteran’s Monument, honoring all residents of Cornelius who served in our country’s military. Today, his own name can be found inscribed on that monument.

Dee loved using his skills to benefit others late in life. He performed genealogical research for 35 families of friends and relatives, tracing the lineage of some families back for centuries. Dee compiled books of genealogical charts, maps, biographies, and other documents, and donated these to the family members. Those who visited him at his family home were often treated to a solo harmonica performance – a musical talent that he discovered during his early years aboard ships in the Navy. An appearance of the harmonica at his birthday proved that he had "still got it" even at 98 years old.

A graveside service with military honors will be held at 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, August 1st, 2023 at Rocky Mount Memorial Park, 4454 Dortches Blvd, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. The family will receive friends immediately following the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to American Legion Post #86, P.O. Box 316, Cornelius, N.C., 28031, EIN# 56-1405341. Please attach the following memo to donations: “In honor of Dee D’oria”. Receipts will be provided.

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Graveside Service
August 1, 2023

10:00 AM
Rocky Mount Memorial Park, Rocky Mount, NC


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