Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dorothy Morris 1928-2015

Dorothy Morris in the Franklin Sylvester Library
Room at the Medina Library in January 2008.
Dorothy Morris was a great lady!

And now she is gone.

She would argue about her greatness, in her own very laid back, self effacing way.

She came to the Medina Library around 1990 to volunteer on the Medina Gazette obituary project. That meant slogging through reel after reel of the old newspapers, scouring the pages for death notices, obituaries and probate listing for the library's obituary index. When Dorothy first started work on this project, she also had to type up the data found on 3"X5" cards. REALLY! That was how it was done in those days.

In 1996, Dorothy came to me and explained that there was no more room in the card index drawers for any more 3"X5" cards. She volunteered to "clean it up" by consolidating multiple cards for the same person. That would be only a temporary solution. So the card files had to computerized. That entailed typing the data for each card into a computer database. Always up for the challenge, Dorothy gamely took on the project. And there were TENS OF THOUSANDS of those 3"X5" cards!

March 14 2006 Medina Gazette article where Dorothy was
interviewed about her work on the Medina Library's
obituary project.

Dorothy was quiet. And so I got to know her slowly. She was a retired librarian from NASA. Brilliant! She had been in the US Marines. She was on their women's marksmanship's team. She was active in the Sharon Township Historical Society and published three books on the early days of Sharon. She was intrigued with the early baseball teams and researched them diligently. She was a member of the Medina County Genealogical Society. These little snippets about her life we slowly teased out of her.

But as I read her obituary, I realized there was so much more that I needed to learn about Dorothy. I did not know that she could read FIVE languages! I did not know that she played the snare drum or played basketball on the Women Marine Corps Reserve basketball team!

When Dorothy's sister Marilyn became ill, Dorothy couldn't come in to volunteer at the library as much. She needed to take care of Marilyn. Then Marilyn passed away and Dorothy had to settle the estate.That was in 2009. While I believe Dorothy always intended to come back and volunteer with us again, she didn't make it in. After that, I only saw her occasionally, at a Genealogy Society meeting or at the annual Medina County Women of the Military luncheon.

And now she is gone.

Medina Library staff remember Dorothy:

Dorothy always had a pleasant smile with a  quiet manner.  When one would converse with her, she always had something profound to say.  Dorothy felt like staff because she was always here volunteering and having her here felt good. It was an honor knowing Dorothy and having her being part of my day. - Renee

I am so grateful that I was able to attend the calling hours and memorial service for Dorothy. Family from both sides of the country, Medina County Women of the Military, old school friends and neighbors gathered to share time together celebrating this modest, many-faceted and talented lady who had the special gift of always putting others first.
Her canvas snare drum, in mint condition, was on display as were lucite-encased sharpshooter medals. Wonderful family photos were side-by-side with notebooks of photographs and letters from her decades in the NASA libraries. A poster with Big Bird (yes, that Big Bird) commemorated her award as a Big Birder for having recorded 426 different birds on 426 consecutive days! Tongue in cheek? Apparently, because family and friends enjoyed telling of her impish sense of humor.
Education was of paramount importance to her. In grade school, she made certain her younger sisters, Marilyn and Mary, got up on time to eat breakfast and get to school on time, which to Dorothy meant early. Dorothy, herself, stood to eat to be certain the whole morning kept moving. She was a hard-working student. Top grades were expected and received.
However, as mentioned earlier, there was that impish sense of humor.  One of her seventh grade classmates shared a story. It seems that a spelling test included the word “mayonnaise”. Dorothy, the perfectionist student, whispered to her friend, “I’ll just put salad dressing.” Do you suppose she really did?
There was a letter written decades ago by the head librarian at the Kennedy Space Center. He had heard of Dot Morris of Lewis Research but did not get to meet her until one early morning in a Washington, D.C. motel where they shared coffee before the bus picked them up to take them to their conference. He then wrote that meeting her and spending a bit of time meant more to him than the whole rest of the conference.
Those of us who were fortunate to know her as she worked so diligently in the library’s local history room can, along with her family and friends, treasure her memory. And remember her grin and her impish sense of humor! Thank you, Dorothy. - Elizabeth Nelson

Comments from the Facebook posting:
Medina Gazette 18 June 2015 page A-6


Anonymous said...

Thank you for gathering and sharing these wonderful memories about Dorothy...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. She sounds like she was an amazing character! It's amazing how you may know people for years, but they always find a way to surprise you in the end.

Pat Morgan said...

Dorothy was a truly amazing person. No matter the topic, I could always count on seeing her at our Genealogy Society meetings. She was our chapter treasurer for many years and continued on after her term of office was over by auditing our books.
She will be deeply missed.

Pat Morgan, President - Medina County Genealogical Society

Jana Last said...


I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

Kat said...

Thank you Jana!