SOUTH PORTLAND – Dorothy Paulus had a small circle of close friends that withstood the test of distance and time.
One of her dearest friends, Jeanne Zenzius, 86, met Mrs. Paulus in kindergarten. Their friendship lasted for 80 years.
Another friend, Eleanor “Mitzie” Sands, 85, became fast friends with Mrs. Paulus and Zenzius in the early 1960s. Their friendship has lasted nearly 50 years.
Mrs. Paulus, who died Monday at the age of 86, was remembered this week as a genuine friend who offered steady support, sound advice and a strong shoulder to cry on. There were plenty of laughs, too.
“When you have a friend like Dot, you stay together,” Zenzius said.
The friends grew up together in the St. Albans neighborhood in Queens, N.Y. They went to the same schools and the same church. Both got married and became homemakers.
Mrs. Paulus eventually moved to Massachusetts with her family, then to Maine in 1959.
Though the distance between them widened, Mrs. Paulus and Zenzius never lost touch. They talked regularly and saw each other as often as they could. For many years, they vacationed together at Lake George in upstate New York.
“We just kept on visiting each other,” Zenzius said. “We enjoyed each other. We laughed. She was like a sister to me. . She was my very best friend for 80 years. You can’t say more than that.”
Mrs. Paulus had other close relationships, with Dorothy Spears and Marjorie Williams, who were her friends for 50 years.
Sands, of Long Island, N.Y., remembered Mrs. Paulus on Thursday as an honest woman and a dear friend who was loved by many.
“We always, always had a good time together,” Sands said. “Even though I haven’t seen her for 10 years when I spoke to her, it was like I saw her the day before. We talked and talked and talked. It was a deep friendship that never wavered.”
Mrs. Paulus was married to Robert Paulus for 56 years. The couple raised two children.
Her son Geoff Paulus, of South Portland, said she was a great mother who was always there when they needed her.
“She was very caring,” her son said. “She would always do things for you. She kept the family together. I’m going to miss her.”
Mrs. Paulus enjoyed doing crossword puzzles, watching game shows, and playing cards with family and friends.
She also had a passion for traveling and taking cruises with her husband. They took about 30 cruises, to the Caribbean and numerous other places.
“She really loved life,” said her son Greg Paulus. “She had a great inner strength and a will to live. It was kind of remarkable.”
Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: