Dolmetsch, John “Jack” Alford

John “Jack” Alford Dolmetsch passed peacefully at his home in Arden, Delaware, in the early morning hours of October 28. He was born in November 1938 in Moscow, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children of Richard and Ruth Dolmetsch (nee Gillner.) He grew up in various places in Pennsylvania before the family moved to Delaware when he was 12, where he resided for the rest of his life.

Jack attended schools in northern Delaware, graduated from Claymont High School and attended the University of Delaware. He worked for the majority of his life as an estimator in the construction industry, for James Julian Inc. of Delaware and J.G. Nascon Inc. of Eddystone, Pennsylvania. He also worked for his sister’s company, Ardencraft.

Jack was one of Arden’s most well-known residents and could often be found wandering the streets of the village, greeting neighbors and friends, and partaking in the beauty and serenity of the town. The king of the one-liners, Jack had an incredible sense of humor and an ever-present twinkle in his eye.

Jack was beloved in Arden for a number of reasons, among them his amazing baking skills and his love of running. He had a wide variety of interests, from astrophysics to aeronautics, and had a lifelong adoration of reading that he passed onto his children. He was always up for a discussion of books he had read – either recently or decades ago.

Jack taught himself how to read music and play piano, and could often be found singing show tunes and Gershwin songs. He also taught himself a second language, learning Spanish later in life, and was able to converse with pen pals from all over the world, from Chile to Nepal.

Jack had a deep affection for the sport of golf and spent years attempting to perfect his game at courses throughout Delaware. While he eventually gave it up, he continued to watch the professionals on television – both the ones he loved and the ones he despised. He spent more than a decade helping run the annual Arden Open golf tournament, serving as tournament director, algorithm savant and judge who made it entirely possible for a non-golfer to take first place. He also enjoyed many rounds of miniature golf with his children.

After giving up golf, he turned to running – and spent more than three decades pounding the pavement all over the mid-Atlantic, taking part in events such as the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia and often finishing high in his age category thanks to competitors whose joints had already taken a beating from years of activity.

He was part of a tight-knit group of runners that met weekly at the Brew Ha Ha in Branmar Plaza and was well known for his enthusiasm and ability to encourage others in their athletic pursuits. He also played semipro baseball in his youth and loved to hike – participating in the annual Hike Across Delaware on several occasions.

His baked goods – crafted meticulously after painstaking research - were legendary throughout Arden and the greater environs. Visitors to town soup nights often wanted to know what he had made as soon as they walked in, even before they had eaten dinner.

Never a braggart, Jack was extremely ambivalent to the notion of boasting and was always the last to acknowledge his own accomplishments, instead choosing to boost the achievements of others. As such, this obituary will come up vastly short of describing his incredible life. He will be deeply missed by all who care about him and will live eternally in their memories.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Ellen Laskey Dolmetsch; a sister, Katherine “Cookie” Kelly of Celebration, Florida; his children and their families, John (Aida) Dolmetsch, of Sunny Isles, Florida, Scott (Liz) Dolmetsch of Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania, Christian Dolmetsch (Christine) of Metuchen, New Jersey, and Liza Dolmetsch of Philadelphia; nieces, Hannah Chipman and Stephanie Mulligan; nephews Jason Dolmetsch and Brady Kelly; and grandchildren Tyler and Abigail Dolmetsch.

He was preceded in death by his father and mother; and brothers Robert and Paul.

A memorial service will be held at the Arden Gild Hall at 2126 The Highway, Wilmington, DE, at noon on December 9, with a reception to follow. Parking will be available in the Gild Hall lot and a gravel/grass area across the street. In Arden, many folks bring a dish of some sort and words to share, but those are not required.

Memorial donations in Jack Dolmetsch’s name may be given to: Arden Craft Shop Museum, 1807 Millers Road, Arden, DE 19810.

For online condolences visit:

Guest Book


email access

by 2fish