Virginia Antionette O’Dwyer died at the age of 91 on Aug. 13.
She was the founder of Virginia A. O’Dwyer Real Estate, located across the street from the Stony Brook train station. Many in the Three Village area remember the company’s sign featuring the colonial pineapple logo, a symbol of hospitality and friendship.
The building still stands today, filled with several agents who worked with Virginia years after Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty acquired the business in 2014.
Virginia was married to William O’Dwyer and a mother of five when she returned to work in the 1960s, according to her son Michael O’Dwyer. He said his mother wanted to buy his father a boat, and her first job was with the real estate company L.C. Clarke in Stony Brook.
“She always had a love for real estate,” he said. “She found her niche.”
It was 1970 when she started her own company.
Michael O’Dwyer said when his mother applied for a loan, the bank asked where her husband was, and she said, “Excuse me.”
“She was one of the first women to get a loan solely in her name in Suffolk County,” he said.
Her son, who is also a real estate agent and was his mother’s business partner, said he learned a lot from her over the years.
“One thing I learned is that it’s not always the highest offer that gets the house,” he said. “It’s the best offer. There’s always a lot of terms and ways you can help your buyer to get their offer presented better.”
His mother worked until Daniel Gale Sotheby’s acquired the company. While she had received offers throughout the years, it wasn’t until Daniel Gale came along that she felt confident selling.
“She waited for the right company to come along,” he said, adding that she felt the company held similar values as her business.
The son said her agents were like family to her, and in all those years only two agents left — but returned to work for her. When she sold the company to Daniel Gale, he said she wanted to make the right decision for her agents.
The son said his mother always balanced a career with family.
“She in her own way thought that anyone could do anything if they put effort into it,” he said. “She was very dedicated, honest and fair with anyone she worked with.”
In addition to real estate, he said his mother loved antiques and collected religious art. She left the art collection to Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson, which she always felt was a worthwhile cause. Her son said in addition to collecting antiques and art, his mother also enjoyed traveling.
“She had a lot of energy,” he said. “She got energy from other people. I think she truly loved what she did. She loved her family, and she loved her business.”
Virginia and her husband were married for 58 years before his passing in 2008. She was born in Mineola on Dec. 14, 1930, to Rita “Dorita Court” Haeger, an opera singer.
“She was quite a character, so I think my mom got a lot of chutzpah from her,” Michael O’Dwyer said, adding his mother was very dedicated to his grandmother.
Virginia and her husband first lived in Westbury before moving to Nissequogue in 1963. About 15 years ago, the couple moved to Stony Brook village and restored a 200-year-old home, according to her son.
She is survived by her children Maureen (James) Riley, William Jr. (Marguerite), Daniel (Bessie) and Michael. Son John preceded her in death. She also leaves behind 15 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
Friends may call at Marinello Funeral Home, 493 Middle Country Rd, Coram, on Tuesday, Aug. 16, from 2 to 7 p.m. The Funeral mass will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 10:15 a.m. at Sts. Philip and James R. C. Church, St. James. Interment immediately to follow at Oak Hill Cemetery, Stony Brook.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Virginia’s memory be made to Hope House Ministries, Attention: Development Department, P.O. Box 358, Port Jefferson, NY 11777.