Dorothy L. Van Doorninck

dorothy van doorninck

Dorothy L. Van Doorninck

March 29, 1915 to March 15, 2015


Dorothy died peacefully at age 99 in her home of 52 years.  Her husband, William Van Doorninck, preceded her in death in April of 1983 at age 73.  She was energetic about maintaining extended family relationships and gatherings.  She was generous with and accepting of all.  She enjoyed a long career as a violinist, an artist in several media, clothing fashion, and home decor.  Her two sons and their wives and five grandchildren were actively and frequently involved during their lifetimes with Dorothy.  She was attended by them near the end of her life and at the moment of her passing.  Dorothy is survived by her sons William John (and spouse Nancy Van Doorninck), Richard (and spouse Donna Van Doorninck), and grandchildren Martin, Alison, John, Chad, and Bryan Van Doorninck.  She also had great grandchildren Nico, Zea, and Holly Van Doorninck and two great-great grandchildren George and Anneliese from Holly.

Dorothy was born in Prairie City, Iowa, when the last of the American Bison, wandering Native Americans, and Gypsies had come to an end.  After graduating the local high school in 1933, she took art courses at Drake University in Des Moines.  When her parents moved to nearby Pella, Iowa, she lived with them there until she married William Van Doorninck in 1940.  In Pella, Dorothy and her close friends and cousins managed to buy or make highly fashionable clothes in spite of the Great Depression.  Such stylish clothes must have cost several gross of eggs, a number of laying hens, and maybe a pig or two.  She traveled to the World's Fair in Chicago with cousins during this time.

Among several suitors, she chose a fellow choir member at First Reformed Church in Pella, William Van Doorninck.  They were married in Pella in July 1940.  They began 42 years of married life in Laurel, Mississippi, where William worked at the Masonite Corporation as a chemical engineer.  Their first child "Billy" was born April 1941.  William then contracted tuberculosis and spent the War years at Bethesda TB Sanatorium in Denver, Colorado.  Dorothy and Billy spent those years living with her parents, Matthew and Hattie De Wit, who had moved to Denver around 1939. 

During the War years, Dorothy worked in downtown Denver at the May Company (dry goods), commuting by street car.  She made close friends with other sales clerks and buyers, was elected captain of their bowling team, and continued her passion for fashion, music, and art.  When William survived TB and was discharged from the sanitorium in 1946, the reconstituted family purchased their first house in Denver.  Their second child "Ricky" was born in 1948.  The social and religious life of the family was based at the First Reformed Church in Denver, where Dorothy and William were continuous members of the choir.  Dorothy and two neighbors formed a string trio and performed locally for several years.

When Ricky entered school, Dorothy worked for the next two decades as a sales clerk at the Denver Dry Goods Company, the anchor store for one of Denver's first shopping centers.  This position helped her outfit children, nephews and nieces in the latest fashions.  And for a 40 year period she was impressively productive with her oils, acrylics, tiled trays, clay platters, and copper sheet engravings.  Her house became a gallery, and many relatives, friends and neighbors accepted and displayed many of her works.  She was an interesting person to know, and beloved.       

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  1. Dear Van Doorninck,  your mother was a lovely lady who lived a faithful life for nearly 100 years – wow!  Pax,  Ron Redder

  2. Rick,

    Sorry to hear of your loss.  It's difficult to lose your mom no matter how old you are. A very nice obituary.  RIP

  3. To Dorothy's family, all of you are in our prayers for God's grace and comfort at the loss of Dorothy.  May God recall to only the good memories of your time under her love.

  4. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your wonderful Mom. She was a real blessing in our lives. Mom and Dad always had her paintings hanging in their home right over the piano.

    God bless your families as you are grieving now, but the wonderful memories your Mom and Dad left you are what you will carry forth with your families now.

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