Dora Pimental, worked on space projects and was animal lover, dies

Dora Pimental, a Bendix and Westinghouse worker, did microscope work for space projects.
Dora Pimental, a Bendix and Westinghouse worker, did microscope work for space projects. (Handout)

Dora Virginia Dunnigan Pimental, a retired Westinghouse technician who worked on the lunar exploration program and was an animal fancier who kept rescue horses, died of infection Friday at the Long View Health Care Center in Manchester.

The longtime Worthington Valley resident was 98.


Born at home at 3300 Falls Road, she was the daughter of John Francis Dunnigan, a Spanish-American War veteran, city courts clerk and deputy sheriff, and his wife, Helena Medora Burton, a homemaker.

She lived on Buena Vista Avenue and Ash Street and attended the Robert Poole School. She also went to high school at night for four years.


In 1949 she married Milton Joseph Pimental, a bookkeeper and accountant at the old Mount Vernon Mills on Falls Road. They lived in Monkton before moving to Worthington Avenue.

Mrs. Pimental was her family’s historian, and wrote about the family, noting that she was descended from settlers from County Meath, lreland, who lived in Bel Air. She was descended from stonemasons and carpenters who constructed public buildings in Harford County.

She worked at the Mount Vernon Mills, the Noxzema skin cream plant and Bendix Radio, according to her writings.

In 1960 she joined the Westinghouse Corp. and continued there until she retired in 1981. She worked with microscopes in its space program laboratory.


A technician, she was part of the team that developed the lunar camera that transmitted photos of man walking on the moon. She also did technical work on the tail warning system for F-15 and F-16 fighter planes and on other instruments used in aircraft and space vehicles.

Mrs. Pimental received an award for her error-free performance.

“She did not brag,” said her son, Phillip Russell “Rusty” Kirby. “Her work was classified and she was a part of the space program beginning with Project Mercury.”

He also noted his mother’s hobbies and philanthropic work, saying: “When she wasn’t working outdoors at our home, she was at volunteering at the Baltimore County Humane Society with my father.”

Mrs. Pimental had pets all her life. At one time or another, she had eight horses, 26 dogs, 23 cats and five geese. She received the geese as a retirement gift and later gave them to a friend who had a pond. Most recently she maintained a rescue horse named Shadow and had two dogs she received from a Reisterstown veterinarian who found them on his parking lot .

“She came from a family of 13 children, and I guess she was used to taking care of things. Her love of animals came naturally to her,” said her niece, Kelly Hupfeld of Bel Air. “She was bitten, knocked down and bruised, but it was all in fun. She fed all the deer in her yard and had a feral cat, which she fed in the basement.”

Mrs. Pimental was an accomplished equestrienne. She broke and showed horses and taught riding to students at the humane society. She wrote that in 1940 she broke a wild pony from Assateague Island.

She was devoted to her horses — more than 30 years ago, when two of her horses had died, she had her brother, a Potts and Callahan worker, use a mechanical excavator to prepare graves on the grounds of her home.

She stopped riding at age 70 but continued her routine of caring for animals.

“She fed all wildlife, and had two foxes that would follow her like dogs,” said her great-nephew, Dominick Dunnigan of Perry Hall.

“She was easygoing and she accepted people for who they were,” said Mr. Dunnigan. “She was proud of her family and was a loving aunt.”

As the family genealogist, she maintained a lengthy list of ancestors and recorded their births, marriages and deaths. She did crochet work, made ceramics and played the organ. She had also enjoyed swimming.

Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Lake View Memorial Park, 2724 Liberty Road in Sykesville.

In addition to her son, survivors include numerous nieces and nephews. Her husband of 52 years died in 2001.

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