June 12, 2013 in Obituaries

Obituary: Gilliam, Dorothy Avis (Soper)

Age 93
 


(Full-size photo)(All photos)

GILLIAM, Dorothy Avis (Soper) 1919-2013 Quietly passed away on the morning of June 3, 2013 at a very loving home in Seattle at the age of 93. She was born in Spokane, WA on December 19, 1919, becoming the fifth child of Frank and Grace Soper. Dorothy attended grade school in Spokane and graduated from North Central H.S. in 1937. Spokane was her home until seven years ago when she moved to Seattle to be closer to her daughter, Jennifer. Dorothy married Roger Wood in 1942. Roger died in 1943 while serving in the Air Force during World War II. One daughter, Sandra, was born to them. Dorothy worked for Larsen and Sawell until she married Eugene Gilliam in 1952. They had one daughter, Jennifer. Gene was a wonderful husband and loving father to their girls. Dorothy became a stay at home mom for both of her girls. Gene and Dorothy had been married for forty nine years when Gene passed away in June of 2001. In 1955 Dorothy began the long journey of taking on her life time goal. She enrolled in Whitworth College’s night school program to obtain a degree in both Literature and Education. It took many years of night school and summer school, but finally in 1963 she graduated Suma Cum Laude. We all were so proud of her. It was a true test of her dedication, determination and just plain grit. Dorothy started her teaching career at Whitworth Elementary School as a fifth grade teacher. She received her librarian certification in 1967, and began working as a school librarian with the Spokane School District. Her passion for books made this position ideal. She was very dedicated to teaching children the power of reading and where books could take them. Her favorite book store was “Aunties Bookstore.” Her favorite reads were history, biographies and travel. Dorothy retired from teaching in 1983. Dorothy continued to lead a very busy and active life. She took up golf and became very involved with the Wandemere’s ladies leagues. She also was a member of Alpha Delta Kappa Sorority, an honorary society for women educators, where she donated much of her time helping with their services for girls and women. She was also a member of Spokane’s Teachers Association. Dorothy made many, many exceptional friends through these organizations. Dorothy also spent countless hours researching and compiling the geneology of her large family. This was before the internet, so it took a lot of time, patience and digging. Dot (known by her family) always finished what she started no matter how daunting the task. Of course her day didn’t end until she did some needle work and reading. Many members of her family received beautifully done pillows and rugs. Dorothy kept her home in mint condition. She was forever cleaning out something. She was a smart dresser. She had an eye for style and loved shopping with her “girls”. Dot did pamper herself by going to the hair dresser every week. She could be quite striking with her vivid blue eyes and silver-white hair. Dorothy’s real love was her family. She cared very deeply about her large and extended family. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for them. Dorothy was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and aunt. She kept close contact with all her siblings. She never forgot to send off a birthday card and recorded every new birth and spouse. Every Memorial Day she would cut peonies and irises from her yard to take to the cemetery for family that had already passed. Dorothy was extremely proud of her two grandchildren and what they had accomplished. She claimed she had bragging rights as all grandparents do. Dorothy was very passionate about taking responsibility, being informed and getting involved. She was definitely an advocate for women. She instilled in both daughters to get an education, have a profession and be independent. She always said she was a Democrat from the moment she was born. Growing up during the Depression made her truly understand the struggles and despair of the down trodden. She deeply believed the Democratic Party was the hope for the down trodden and the common person. “You should never, never dismiss your duty to vote,” we would hear her say. She could be very vocal about it. She relished the opportunity to express her beliefs about politics and how she felt it was affecting “the people”. She had always hoped to live to see the day when a woman won the presidency. Dorothy was a true example of the “Greatest Generation.” She experienced poverty, World War II, and being a war widow. Despite all this, she forged ahead by continuing her education and then worked outside the home, for the same reason many women of her generation did, so her children would have more opportunities than she had had. Dorothy accomplished so much in her 93 years. She’s taking with her the pride of helping to build, along with others of her generation, the backbone of this country, the “Middle Class.” She helped bring this country up from its bootstraps to become a world leader of the 20th century. Dorothy was preceded in death by her parents, husband Gene, four sisters, and four brothers. She is survived by one brother, David Soper of Auburn, WA; daughters, Jennifer Gilliam (Chuck) of Seattle and Sandra Danke (Bill) of Chelan, WA; two grandchildren, Josh Danke of Scottsdale, AZ and Kristin Nelson (Adam) of Chelan and numerous nieces and nephews. There will be a simple graveside service on Monday, June 17, at 11:00 AM at Fairmount Memorial Park in Spokane, WA. A family celebration will be held in Seattle at a later date. We love and will miss you Mom and Grandma. You were always there with your guidance, inspiration and encouragement when we needed it. We will forever carry that with us. In lieu of flowers you may make a donation to: Aunties Bookstore, 402 West Main, Spokane, WA 99201 Att: Melissa (in memory of Dorothy Gilliam. Arrangements have been entrusted to Ball & Dodd Funeral Home.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email