Philanthropist Delores Hope dies at 102

LOS ANGELES – Dolores Hope, who throughout her 69-year marriage to comedian Bob Hope oversaw their charitable giving and played a key role in establishing the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., has died. She was 102.

Hope died Monday of natural causes at her home in the Toluca Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, publicist Harlan Boll said.

In the late 1960s, the Hopes donated 80 acres of land near their future Palm Springs estate for the medical center, which opened in 1971.

She served as chairwoman of the center’s board for years, and he raised millions for the center through the annual golf tournament that used to bear his name.

When her husband died in 2003 – two months after turning 100 – Dolores declined to estimate how many millions they had given or raised for charity.

She was born Dolores DeFina on May 27, 1909, in New York City and grew up in the Bronx.

During the 1930s, she sang in nightclubs using the stage name of Dolores Reade and met Bob Hope when he caught a New York City show.

After a brief courtship, they married in 1934 and soon shared the vaudeville stage.

While Dolores raised their four adopted children, her husband’s career took off and he was often away.

“When we were celebrating our 50th anniversary, people would say, ‘Fifty years?’ And Bob would say, ‘Yeah, but I’ve only been home three weeks,’ ” she said in 1995 in the Palm Springs Desert Sun.

To mark that half-century, she gave him a paperweight inscribed “Don’t think these three weeks haven’t been fun.”

She is survived by daughters Linda and Nora Somers; a son, Kelly; four grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. Another son, Anthony, died in 2004.

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