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Linda Marie (Vandamme) Dodge

Posted By Nicole Orellana On November 13, 2021 @ 10:19 am In Obituaries | 17 Comments

Linda Dodge web obit photo

1937 – 2021

Thompson – Linda Marie Vandamme Dodge, our family matriarch who was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside, joined her husband of 54 years, Conway T. Dodge, Sr., in a well-deserved spot in heaven on November 10, 2021.

A resilient, courageous trailblazer, Linda left her home in Antwerp, Belgium in 1961 at the age of 23 to move to New York City, a city which had more residents than her entire home country, to join Pan American World Airlines as a Flight Attendant. She was part of an ultra-elite group of women who met rigourous criteria in order to be selected for the Purser training program. One of the requirements for this program was the ability to speak more than one language. Linda spoke eight.

Her decision to move to the U.S. and join Pan Am set the course for the rest of her life. On board, she met and had the privilege of serving many notable travelers, including Charles Lindberg and Elizabeth Taylor. She was selected to be part of the flight crew when The Beatles made their inaugural flight to the U.S. in February of 1964 to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. But the one person she met on board who had the most influence on her life was a young First Officer who would become her husband. Linda tells the story of meeting Conway for the first time and assuming that the dashing pilot HAD to be taken, only to quickly discover he was single. The rest is history…

The courage Linda displayed in her 20s extended beyond her years at Pan Am, and was perhaps best exemplified when she became the quintessential homemaker. As the wife of a pilot who often was gone for a week or two at a time, she embraced the role of household Chief Executive Officer, something she genuinely enjoyed. In this role she became a resourceful expert in crisis management, culinarty arts, gardening, scheduling, entertaining, and household operations. Her work ethic and resilience inspired others. She was proud of her home and kept it immaculate despite having four active children who always had a plus one (or two or three) in the mix. As her children grew older, she continued to run the household while indulging in a new passion – fine jewelrey. She embarked on her second career as a gemologist and leading sales associate at Sharfman’s Jewlers, where she devoted 18 years of quality service to the customers she so enjoyed.

Linda’s love language was to give, and one of her favorite ways of giving was to prepare a home-cooked meal for family and friends. Her signagure dish, steak au poivre, was the number one most-requested meal for any special occasion. Any and all were welcome in her kitchen and, to her delight, most nights included extra guests at the dinner table.

Linda’s courage was put to the test again with a cancer diagnosis in her early 50s. She fought that battle and was cancer-free for 30 years. To everyone’s shock, it returned in 2020. In typical fashion, she handled the diagnosis with grace and resilience. Even in the darkest moments, she had unbounded optimism and kept a sense of humor that made everyone around her feel at ease. She was a firm believer in mind over matter and never let external circumstances influence her faith or love. During this period, received wonderful care under the stewardship of Dr. Dimitri Levenson, who became a friend as well as a compassionate care giver to both Linda and Conway.

Anyone who knew Linda understood that her ten grandchildren were her greatest pleasure in life. Through “Bobolle’s” eyes, each grandchild saw herself or himself as absolutely perfect and unconditionally loved. To bask in that feeling, and her radiance, was a gift.

Linda raised and is survived by her four strong, kind, funny, earnest children. And in them, her legacy of giving, living in the moment, focusing on the positive, seeing goodness, serving others, rising early, loving family, telling silly jokes, not sweating the small stuff, and steak au poivre will live on. Gabrielle Boisvert (Marc), Conway T. Dodge, Jr. (Katie), Daniel D. Dodge (Nicole), and Benjamin F. Dodge (Vicki) are eternally grateful for the foundation that both Linda and Conway provided. Bobolle’s ten grandchildren – Jackson, Sophie, Conway III, Elizabeth, Maeve, Henry, Wyatt, Emerson, Sam, and Ella – will miss their inside jokes, back scratches, and daily check-ins with Bobolle via text. She remained close to her siblings Jan Vandamme, Fryda Augustynen, and Ingrid Willems, all residents of Belgium, despite being across the pond. Linda’s brother, Eric Vandamme, pre-deceased her.

Linda has a special circle of lifelong friends who treated one another like family. This includes her best friend from childhood, Mireille Goldstone, who joined Linda in NYC in the early 1960s where they lived an adventurous and exciting life together for several years. The LaChance and Pope families provided friendship, counsel, and incredible support over many decades. And the community at Westview Commons, where Linda recently resided, were welcoming and kind.

Per Linda’s request, there will be no services, but the family will be holding a Celebration of Life in the future and will provide details at that time. Please consider making a donation in Linda’s memory to the United Way of Northeastern CT to help those in need, especially as we enter the holiday season – https://app.mobilecause.com/form/BSCemQ?vid=nb8xn.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.” Marcus Aurelius

Services have been entrusted to the Gilman Funeral Home & Crematory, 104 Church St., Putnam, CT 06260. For memorial guestbook please visit www.GilmanAndValade.com.


Condolences for the family of “Linda Marie (Vandamme) Dodge”

Condolence from Jimmy Raftery on November 13th, 2021 11:08 am

Gabby, CT, Dan and Ben… I’m so sorry to hear this very sad news. My thoughts & condolences to all of you, your families and extended family.

Jimmy

Condolence from Sarah Thompson on November 13th, 2021 11:43 am

Aunt Linda will be greatly missed. I have many fond memories from my childhood.

Condolence from Paul Herrick on November 13th, 2021 12:56 pm

To this wonderful family I would like to extend my sincere condolences.
She was always a gracious lady with a warm smile.
So sorry for your loss.

Condolence from Vicky Tillen Yeomanson on November 13th, 2021 3:33 pm

Sending my deepest condolences to you all. We loved growing up as neighbors to your family. Your mother was always incredibly kind, welcoming, and funny. I loved her accent and her droll asides, made with a smile and twinkling eyes. I know that my mother, particularly, will miss her dear friend Linda very much.

Condolence from Stephanie Chicoine Johnson on November 13th, 2021 4:33 pm

Dear Gabrielle, CT, Dan and Ben,
I am sorry to learn of the loss of your Mom and Dad. I have many fond memories of spending our day at St. Joseph’s School and ending it at your house. Your mom busy in the kitchen getting dinner ready for all of of us. Weekends were always great fun. Your mom or dad keeping Happy and Cindy in line when I arrived. There was never a dull moment at 2 Vernon Lane. Your parents were an absolute delight and will be missed by all who knew them. My sincere condolences to you and your families.
Stephanie Chicoine Johnson

Condolence from Charles Tillen on November 13th, 2021 5:21 pm

Sending condolences on behalf of the Massachusetts Tillens. I will never forget your mother’s kindness and patience in allowing so many unruly neighborhood children to run around in her house (yes I was a +1). For a long time the Dodge home was the center of the neighborhood for all the kids. Your mother laughed at us, fed us and eventually sent us home, happy and safe. She was a proxy mother and I will never forget her. Warm wishes to Gabrielle, CT, Dan and Ben and your families.

Condolence from Mike an Sue Brannigan on November 13th, 2021 10:06 pm

What an amazing person. A true loss. Stay strong Dodges. It’s so great you are all so close. That’s their legacy.

Condolence from Annik Baron on November 14th, 2021 8:23 am

Dear All,
I am Mireille’s nice. I do not know you but remember your mother when I was a little girl in Antwerp. As she was Mireille’s best friend, her departure for New York, left some turmoil and great sadness for Mireille who decided to depart for New York a few years later. I remained aware through Mireille, of your family well-being. Your Mom, Grand Mother was a great lady and I will always remember her warm personality.

Condolence from Steven De Weirdt on November 14th, 2021 9:08 am

Dear Gabrielle, CT, Dan and Ben,
My deepest condolences to all of you.
Allthough it has been over 40 years, I still remeber all of you like yesterday.
I am very grateful for the great summers I have experienced in the warmth of your family!!
I am so sorry for your loss.

Condolence from Tim Fatsi on November 14th, 2021 12:18 pm

So sorry to hear about your mom, Gabrielle, CT, Dan and Ben. My deepest condolences to all of you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Condolence from Dave Babbitt on November 14th, 2021 6:18 pm

To all the Dodge’s….our sincere sympathy on the passing of your mom….who saved Mr. Babbitt on many occasions when in need of a gift for Mrs. Babbitt..”Linda, can you rescue me again? And the next day a beautiful piece of jewelry would appear all wrapped in that famous Sharfman’s purple,,,,again I was “saved” by Linda….just a little history to note how special a person she was…..

Condolence from Betsey Durand ( Duclos) on November 15th, 2021 9:02 am

Dear Ben & Family,

I am so sorry for your loss of your Mom. I am thinking of you and sending healing prayers to you.

Condolence from Christoph Vandamme on November 15th, 2021 1:29 pm

She was a beloved sister and aunt.
We cherish the moments with Bobolle l tante Linda and will keep her for ever in our memory.

Our condolences to the US side of the family.

Tante Frieda, kids, grandchildren & grand-great-children.
Uncle Jan, Tosh, Herman, Jeanne & August

Condolence from Don Conway on November 15th, 2021 5:35 pm

Linda was an MVP, an all star and sweet lady with an unusual presence. She was a delight to be around. She had a worldly quality that distinguished her from others in her company. What a lady! Thoughts prayer with the Dodge family.

Condolence from John S Piekarczyk on November 16th, 2021 5:14 am

I’m saddened to learn of Linda’s passing. My father was one of the Partners at Sharfmans Jewelers and whenever I was at the store I would make it a point to see Linda. She was warm, sincere and one of the nicest people I have ever known.

Condolence from Gwyneth Tille on November 18th, 2021 10:01 am

Ron and I were fortunate to have Linda, Conway and family as friendly neighbors for many years in Thompson. As Vicki and Charles have already commented the Dodge home was a haven for all the local children, certainly our youngest son, James spent more time there with Ben than he did at home! Linda was always so welcoming, warm and charming and very popular.
In the last few months our friendship with Linda was renewed as we were at Westview Commons together and we shared so many happy memories . Linda always had a good sense of humor which persisted in spite of her suffering, she never complained and is one of the bravest people we have ever met. She will always be missed here as made many friends immediately. Our deepest sympathy to all the family.

Condolence from Eileen Flood Perron on November 26th, 2021 6:53 am

I’m so very sorry to hear of both Linda and Conway’s passing. They were both a ray of sunshine in my life growing up. They had a rare selfless way of making anyone feel special. The world was a better place to live in because of them. Sending you all my condolences and keeping you in my prayers.

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