COOPERSTOWN – Dolores S. Coleman, founder of Coleman’s Answering Service that served the Cooperstown community and beyond for 50 years, died late Saturday afternoon, November 13, 2021, at Cooperstown Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing. A beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and sister, she was 92.
A native of Cooperstown, Dolores Maxine Snyder was born at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital on February 27, 1929, a daughter of Clifford LeRoy Snyder and Genevieve Veda née Knapp Snyder, and was raised on a farm in Middlefield. In the summer of 1945, she went to work for “Ma Bell”, which is what New York Telephone Co. was referred to at the time. One year later, she graduated from Cherry Valley High School with the Class of ’46, and attended (“at the insistence of my father!”) a business school in Utica. That didn’t last long, and she returned to work as a switchboard operator at the Cooperstown exchange, then located at 52 Pioneer Street, just south of the Pratt Hotel.
It was during this time that she met Charles A. Coleman, and on December 3, 1948, they were married in a ceremony held in the Rectory at St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown, with Fr. Patrick Whelan officiating. Dolores and Chuck first lived on Pioneer Street, and then settled into their home on Beaver Street and raised their three boys.
For the next 15 years Dolores continued working for the telephone company. She and the other operators placed all calls manually, plugging a long cord into a socket to receive an incoming call, and then plugging another long cord into another socket to send that call on to its destination. She did that until February 18, 1961, when New York Telephone Co, (Ma Bell’s official name) closed the local exchange.
About the time that the phone company went dial, a good friend, Tom Goodyear, invited all the telephone girls to a party at Cary Mede Farm. It was there that he asked Dolores what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, and asked her about running an answering service in Cooperstown. Dolores’ response was no-she just didn’t think there would be many customers. Goodyear assured her that with his help, they would. So on July 3, 1961, a switchboard was placed in the Coleman home on Beaver Street and Coleman’s Answering Service was in business. She started with seven customers (The American Red Cross was first, closely followed by Ingalls Funeral Home) and by the end of the year she was up to 14. She operated the switchboard day and night for 20 years, but on September 25, 1981, she switched to, as she put it, “an oversized telephone”. Over the course of 50 years, Dolores’ customers reached more than 100, including several funeral homes, physicians, veterinarians, automobile repair shops, and the police department. Whether it was a late-night call during calving season, or the unpleasant call about the death of a loved one, her service was there, with Dolores ready to answer.
After her 50 years, four months and four days in service, Dolores sold her answering service to a company in Albany. She was very concerned that her loyal customers be well-served by the new company, as many had become good friends and were no longer just customers.
She and Chuck later sold their home on Beaver Street and moved to the Cooper Lane Apartments. She enjoyed the ability to walk to town, have lunch with old friends, shop and enjoy other pleasures she was not able to do since she was always answering the phone.
Through the years, Dolores had a passion for horses and horse racing, and somehow always found time to get away for at least a day to go to the track. Perhaps her most favorite place to go was Saratoga during racing season in August. On May 17, 2014, her family honored her love of horses by having the first race at Belmont Park named for her. Before, during and after this special event, Dolores expressed how much she enjoyed this.
Dolores will also be remembered for the many cakes she baked for family and friends’ special events and parties. In later years she enjoyed being a part of the Prayerfully Made Ministry at St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown, knitting blankets and shawls for the local hospital and nursing homes.
She will be greatly missed by her three sons and daughters-in-law, Charles A. “Skip” Coleman III and Laura, Clifford S. Coleman and Colleen, and Carter F. Coleman and Katie, all of Cooperstown. She is further survived by eight grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren: Brandi and Ross Valvo and their two children, Amanda Coleman and her two children, Jill Coleman and her three children, Lindsay and Tim Hayes and their two children, Clifford and Meagan Coleman, Jr. and their two children, Melissa and Dan Croft and their three children, Maegan and Scott Whiteman and their three children, and McKenzie Coleman. Also surviving is a very special cousin, Susan Vicki Rezen of Florida, and many, many nieces and nephews. She often stated that she had a very special family and loved them all very much.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 65 years, Chuck “Pappy” Coleman, who died November 9, 2013, and her sister, Betsy J. Snyder, who died May 15, 2016.
Family and friends may pay their respects at the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown from 10 a.m. until 12 Noon on Saturday morning, November 27, 2021.
A Funeral Service will be offered at 12 Noon on Saturday at the funeral home with the Rev. Betsy Jay officiating. Immediately following the service, all are welcome to re-gather at the Cooperstown Vets Club for a time of refreshment, fellowship, and perhaps some singing…
As an alternative to flowers, please consider a donation in memory of Dolores to the Cooperstown Fire Department, PO Box 1, Cooperstown, NY 13326.
Arrangements were under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown.