Saying goodbye is never easy, especially to neighbors we love. Several prominent East Dallas residents died this year. They may be gone, but their impact on the neighborhood is not forgotten. Here are their stories.
Wayne Pierce. The former Woodrow Wilson High School principal died in December. He was 95 years old. Pierce served as Woodrow’s principal from 1971 to 1987. Before that, he was an assistant principal at Woodrow. He was one of the school’s most popular principals and sometimes went by the name “Mr. Wildcat.” Even after he retired, he remained “principal emeritus” and stayed involved at the school.
John Ashley Bellamy. Bellamy died Dec. 8 from complications with Alzheimer’s. After studying art in Europe, Bellamy bought a Methodist church on Haskell Avenue and transformed it into a de facto artist commune known as Moon Mansion. Neighbors from across Dallas descended on the mansion every Christmas Eve to celebrate at Bellamy’s famous party.
Jimmy Cox. The longtime owner of Cox’s Lock & Key died in October at his home in Mesquite. He was 71. “Jimmy has had many health issues over the years. He was able to overcome them,” his son Matthew Cox said in an email at the time of his death. “His last fight with cancer took him. He served the Lakewood community for over 30 years with honesty, loyalty and passion. Truly one of a kind. Thank you for the love and support.”
Sherryl Wesson. Wesson died Sept. 23 after years as a Realtor in East Dallas. Prior to her retirement in 2015, Wesson was sales manager of the local Ebby Halliday Realtors offices.
Bobby Rotenberry. The owner of longtime East Dallas restaurant Pizza Getti died at his Mesquite home Aug. 21. He was 81. Rotenberry started Pizza Getti with his brother Dale 52 years ago on the corner of Ferguson Road and Lakeland Drive, near White Rock Lake.
Dick Clements. Clements, a real estate agent, spent more than 65 years working the streets of our neighborhood, first with his own firm and most recently with Ebby Halliday. Clements moved to East Dallas when he was 5 years old and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1951. Every Fourth of July, Clements and a group of volunteers placed tiny U.S. flags outside more than 8,000 homes.
Ann Todora. Todora, the owner of Parkit Market, died in early August. She was 98. Todora and her husband Frank opened the food store on Greenville Avenue in 1962. In addition to running the store, Todora raised a family of seven.
Virginia McAlester. The Dallas preservationist and Swiss Avenue neighbor died in April after a battle with myelofibrosis. She was 76. McAlester grew up in the 1917 Harris-Savage house on Glendale Street and Swiss Avenue and led the effort to make the neighborhood the city’s first historic district. She later became a founding member of Preservation Dallas and Friends of Fair Park. Her book, “A Field Guide to American Houses,” sold millions of copies and proved a valuable resource for preservation groups.
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