Doris Sebastian Porcella, the heart of her family whose kindness and charm uplifted everyone who crossed her path for moments or for decades, died peacefully at home in Natick, Massachusetts, on Feb. 27, 2023. She was 99.
Above all else, Doris — lovingly known by her family as Gamma — was a devoted wife to her late husband Anthony, with whom she shared 63 years of marriage; a loving mother to her son and seven daughters; a cherished grandmother and great-grandmother; and a faithful Catholic and parishioner at St. Patrick’s church in Natick.
Gamma attracted people like a magnet, quick to share a smile, a hug and a story. “There are no strangers,” she’d say. “Only friends we haven’t met yet.”
Doris Sebastian was born in Boston on July 7, 1923, to Alexander and Margaret (Maguire) Sebastian, who had immigrated from Poland and Ireland, respectively. Along with brothers Hugh, Paul and Donald, she was raised in Cambridge and attended St. Peter’s Catholic schools and St. John’s High School. She loved St. Jude, praying to him for those most in need.
Her volunteerism began as a young woman, when she taught girls manners at the Settlement house in Boston, and continued with the U.S.O. during WWII, when she spent evenings dancing with servicemen. She began volunteering at the Mary Ann Morse nursing home at age 70 and was active for many years in the Lions Club, which recognized her service with its Melvin Jones Fellowship.
Doris met her husband — “my Tony,” she said — at Nabisco, where they worked. They were married in January 1949 and moved to Natick in 1958. Starting in the ’70s, she worked in the linens department at Jordan Marsh. Her greatest joy was raising her eight children and later supporting her many grandkids in sports and the arts.
Gamma and Bumpa — as Doris and Tony were known to so many — enjoyed several trips throughout the U.S. and to Europe, including Poland and Ireland, where she discovered her roots. In retirement, they hosted their extended family in Naples, Florida, and Ogunquit, Maine.
Back home, she was a regular at local coffee shops, where she’d have a cup of coffee while writing notes to family and friends with her unmistakable script and frequent signoff: “Much Love, Gamma.”
In addition to her parents, brothers and a granddaughter, Doris was predeceased by her husband in 2012. She is survived by her children and their partners, Anne Peterson, of Framingham; Stephen and Pat Porcella, of Reno, Nevada; Jane Theriault, of Easton; Susan and Keith Anderson, of Natick; Nancy Cassidy and David Ruggiero, of Norwood; Elaine and Ramon Alanis, of Spring, Texas; Diane Porcella and Paul Shoul, of Northampton; and Jeanne and Rick Holihan, of Natick; as well as 16 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and countless family and friends.
Visiting hours will be held at the John Everett & Sons Funeral Home, on the Natick Common, on Thursday, March 9, 2023, from 4-8 p.m. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick’s church (44 East Central Street in Natick) on Friday, March 10, at 10AM. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. Interment will follow in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, 180 Pond St, Natick.
In lieu of flowers, Doris’s family asks that donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (www.stjude.org)
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