Ethel Elizabeth Doyle Volpe
Ethel Elizabeth Doyle was born to Edward and Annie (Powers) Doyle on October 19, 1911 in Dorchester MA. Her mother wanted to name her Elizabeth, but when her father took her to be baptized he named her Ethel after a character in a book he was reading at the time. Ethel had two brothers, James (known as Jay) who was seven years older and Edward, Jr. (known as Junie), seven years younger.
The family moved to Quincy where they purchased a two-family house on Appleton Street. The Doyle’s occupied the second floor apartment and Ethel's bedroom was the front porch. When Ethel’s younger brother was born, Ethel went to live with her maternal English grandmother. As a child, Ethel contracted the measles which resulted in her losing her hearing for two years. It was believed that she would be deaf for the rest of her life. However, her mother never gave up hope, praying for help and seeking advise from all sources. One remedy recommended ingesting daily spoonfuls of caster oil. Although Ethel regained her hearing, the oil treatment resulted in Ethel’s lifelong dislike of anything with oil in it.
Ethel attended Quincy schools and graduated from Quincy High School. Ethel was an accomplished artist and attended art school at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Although she never pursued an art career, she was always interested in the subject. Ethel was a bookkeeper for Filines Department Store in Boston. She also worked as a model for Gilberto, a hair dresser at Filines. In addition she modeled nylon stockings.
When Ethel was 16 she met Sabestino Volpe. Sammy, as she called him, and Ethel dated for ten years before marrying on November 10, 1936 at the Catholic rectory in Quincy Massachusetts. It was a small gathering with only the attendants and Ethel’s mother witnessing the ceremony. They picked the date because the holiday allowed them time to drive to New York for a weekend honeymoon at the New Yorker Hotel.
Before marrying, Ethel and Sam built two houses. The first house was located in the Squantum section of Quincy. However, it was during the Depression and they could not afford to marry so the house was sold. They later designed and built a house at 1054 Liberty Street in South Braintree where they lived their entire married life. Construction took over two years because they did all the work themselves.
Ethel gave birth to a daughter, Ann (Gallentine), in 1939 and a son, Paul in 1940. When the children began kindergarten, Ethel carpooled with other families to take the students to school because bus service was only provided for grades one through twelve. Later she helped with Ann’s Girl Scout Troop and was a Cub Scout leader for Paul’s Boy Scout Troop. During this time Ethel hand crafted and sold elaborate May baskets at the local “5 & 10” store in Braintree. For several years she and neighbor Louise Rich owned and operated a gift shop South Weymouth MA.
Sam founded the S. Volpe & Company, a general construction company, in 1942. Ethel’s father gave him office space in his Craftsman Press Printing office on the fourth floor at 100 Purchase Street in Boston MA. Ethel was the bookkeeper, a job she held until the company was dissolved on Sam's death. When the company outgrew the corner office at the Craftsman Press they moved to 150 Congress Street and later to 185 Devonshire Street. Ethel’s younger brother, Edward Junior, was made Vice President of the company when he returned from serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II.
Ethel’s father owned a summer cottage on the waterfront in Wareham. Sam and Ethel purchased a summer home nearby and it became a favorite “second home”. Additional property was acquired in the area and it is where her son, Paul, now lives.
In 1949 the family took their first winter vacation. Ann and Paul were given permission to be absent from school for three weeks on condition that they kept up their studies. They drove south stopping in New York, Washington DC, North Carolina, and Georgia before arriving in Florida. Several other winter trips were taken in following years to Florida and the Bahamas. In June 1953 the family visited Europe. They traveled by ship to Cannes, France and then toured France, Italy and Switzerland by private car. Ethel especially enjoyed the many art museums. In later years Sam and Ethel made additional trips to Europe as well as traveled throughout the United States.
In the 1960’s Sam and Ethel started construction of the Round Hill Golf Course on land they had purchased in East Sandwich, MA. Round Hill consisted of an eighteen hole golf course, a luxurious club house which Ethel helped Sam design, tennis courts and all the other amenities. The name was selected because it is what the Indians called the area. The golf course was sold after Ethel’s death and is now known as Sandwich Hollows.
When her husband was diagnosed with brain tumors, Ethel continued to run the companies. After his death the companies were dissolved as designated in his will. Ethel continued to manage the Round Hill Golf Club until her death. Ethel died on December 8, 1983 at the Glover Memorial Hospital, Needham MA after a four month battle of cancer. She is buried next to Sam in a mausoleum they had designed and constructed next to the eighth tee on the Round Hill Golf Course.
Ethel was known for her entertaining. For many years she and Sam hosted a dinner of unusual foods for business associates, family and friends at the Red Coach Grill Restaurant in Hingham MA and the Wareham home was the site of yearly poolside parties. Ethel loved to read, do crossword puzzles and play solitaire. She was an accomplished knitter, making afghans for family. She liked antiques and had extensive collections of tea pots, tea cups, music boxes and clowns.
If you have remembrances or stories about Ethel that you would like to share, we would like to hear from you. Our e-mail address is email@example.com
Ann Volpe Gallentine