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Dorothy Davies, age 89, of Peachtree City, GA died Wednesday Oct 30th. She was healthy and active right up to when we lost her to a brain aneurysm, thus fulfilling her wish to depart from this earth with minimal fuss and bother on the part of others.
Dorothy was born in Durand, WI on July 20, 1930, the second daughter of Carl and Elsie Gilman, a University Extension agricultural agent and a teacher, respectively. She spoke fondly of her childhood in Port Washington, WI—describing farm calls with her father, playing on the bluffs and stone breakwater, and listening to the sounds of the foghorn and waves breaking on the shores of Lake Michigan. She honed her work ethic waitressing at Smith Brothers Fish Restaurant on the Port Washington waterfront and later in the sunny Chadbourne Hall dining room at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she majored in Home Economics and Early Childhood Development. Both of Dorothy’s parents were UW grads (1916,1918) and a family claim-to-fame was having three generations randomly assigned to live in Chadbourne Hall: Dorothy’s mother, herself, and her daughter. Dorothy was dismayed when this classic and charming 1871 stone building, with the lovely garden and white picket fence, was razed and replaced with a high-rise dormitory five years after her graduation. The memories, however, were treasured for a lifetime.
Dorothy met her husband Paul during the last month of her senior year at UW. They married three months later when Dorothy was working for Northwest Airlines in Billings, Montana and Paul was en route to San Diego to begin his Navy deployment on an aircraft carrier. Although this was a surprising development for their Wisconsin families, their union lasted 66 years.
Dorothy made the best of starting marriage and a family while her husband’s ship sailed the Indo-Pacific region for prolonged periods, making many life-long friends on bases in Bremerton, WA and San Diego, CA. After Paul transitioned to Navy Reserve status, the family put down their welcome mat at successive front doors in Saukville, WI; Milwaukee; Green Bay; Edina, MN; two homes in Stevens Point, WI; and two homes in Appleton, WI. Over the years and miles, Dorothy transitioned from an in-home mother of three children to positions as an administrative assistant for Menzel-Williams (public relations consulting), a teacher aide in a school piloting an innovative open-door approach to elementary education and finally working alongside her husband for Sentry Insurance. Not every couple can work for years in adjoining cubicles, but they truly enjoyed this office proximity until retiring to Peachtree City, GA in 1992.
Dorothy loved to dance and loved a good joke even more. She believed in the power of music to inspire and to heal. No matter where ‘home’ was, music provided the backdrop to family life—from classical and jazz to Broadway musicals, opera, big band, folk and traditional music from around the world (courtesy of public radio), Sinatra, Streisand, and countless other favorite performers. Dorothy and Paul met at a jazz concert, and it was this shared interest that sparked their relationship. Her location could be tracked by her whistling in the house and garden, and her children often drifted to sleep listening to Clair de Lune played on the family piano or to front seat duets during long distance drives. She enjoyed adventures all over the world as well as those close to home. Her water aerobics/exercise group classmates and instructors kept her motivated through the ups and downs of aging. She cherished all her friendships, new and old.
Dorothy is survived by children Scott Davies of Puerto Palomas, Mexico, Laurie (Tom) Hartjes of Verona, WI, and Robert Davies of Peachtree City; granddaughters Elizabeth Hartjes of Washington, DC and Julia Hartjes of New York City; sisters-in-law Joy Doro of Berlin, WI and Bonnie Davies of Madison, WI; and nine beloved nieces and nephews and their families. She was preceded in death by her husband Paul; parents Carl and Elsie (nee Springer) Gilman; sister Barbara Decker; parents-in-law Jim and Mabel (nee Gordon) Davies; and brothers-in-law Donald Davies and Nicholas Decker.
An open-invitation celebration of Dorothy’s life will be held at Arbor Terrace (201 Crosstown Drive in Peachtree City) at 2pm on Wednesday, Nov 27th.
Dorothy was extremely grateful to the Arbor Terrace staff, hospice staff, and other care providers who supported her over the many years of Paul’s health challenges. Contributions to the Southern Grace Hospice Foundation to assist families receiving hospice services would be a wonderful tribute. Dorothy lived only four months after Paul’s death. Although gone too soon, we are better for having shared in her abundant love and good humor.
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