The Great Lady

by RhodesTer on March 25, 2009

in NOT Humor/Satire

Today I’d like to pay homage to Peg Dorey, who passed away on March 15th at the age of 85.

Peg Dori with grandaughter Dorian Rhodes

Peg gazes lovingly at her granddaughter and soulmate, Dorian

I loved her very much. She’s Dorian’s grandma, and wife of granddad Don who survives her — they were married for damn near 62 years, can you believe that?

In the spirit of those New Orleans party-style funeral processions that celebrate someone’s life rather than their passing, I’d like to say a few things here about darling Peg.

Turn up some jazz, please.

Peg was born back in ‘23, way before my time.. she was Valedictorian of the class of ‘41 at Tulare High School in California, and she met good old Don just after the war. They went steady for a couple of years before making it all legal in 1947, then raising three daughters, one of whom is my mother-in-law, Phyllis Dorey-Thiessen.

Don flew an airplane at the tail-end of WW2, and nearly missed seeing some action. His older brother Robert wasn’t so fortunate, having perished in a bomber that went down during a mission over Papa New Guinea a few years before.

Don and Peg lost a lot of close loved ones over the years — she grew up with six brothers and sisters, only to be survived by one as of her passing last Sunday, her sister Juanita Smith.

Don has lost several siblings too, with Robert just being the first so many years ago. Together they knew heartbreak but it never crushed them until the passing of one of their three girls, Donna, nearly a decade ago. Cancer had claimed Donna’s life and Don and Peg were never quite the same after that, but it was still always good to see them.


GrandDon gets a hug from his “little brown eyes”

I’d met them the year prior to my own marriage in 1990. Dorian spoke so highly of them I was a bit nervous that first time around, being the new boyfriend who was showing up with their beloved granddaughter. I’d weathered meeting Phyllis and Dorian’s stepdad David a few months before, but the thought of meeting Don and Peg gave me butterflies.

It turned out to be for naught — two sweeter and lovelier people just couldn’t be found, and I was welcomed into the family as one of them. My own maternal and paternal grandparents had long since departed, so I adopted Peg and Don as my honorary grandparental units.

They accepted with grace.

Our visits were frequent and sometimes infrequent, depending on geography and timing. But I always looked forward to seeing them at their mountain cabin in Camp Nelson, California. The stories were endlessly entertaining, the food was faithfully delicious and there’s just something to be said about basking quietly in the company of people who accept and love you no matter what. I’d trade a trek across Europe, Sushi in Japan and Margaritas in Mexico just for one day in that cozy cabin with them again, as a toasty fire in the fireplace keeps us warm while snow clings to those majestic trees just outside the window.


Christmas at the Dorey cabin in Camp Nelson, California

Peg once scolded me for poking fun at a cornball television personality who happened to be one of her favorites. Huell Howser hosts a PBS show called California’s Gold, and I couldn’t resist emulating his southern twang while visiting them at the cabin and asking for someone to pass the meatballs. “Dave, will you please knock it off? I love that man, he has a good show!

A few years later, while sitting in a coffee house in Palm Springs, who should walk in but Huell Howser. I introduced myself like a gushing fan and told him of Peg’s scolding when I took a few liberties with his accent. “Well bless her heart!” he twanged, sounding every bit as corny as he did on his show, “you tell grandma I said thanks for sticking up for me!”

Peg stuck up for all of us, Mr. Howser.

Granddad Don once said that it’s not easy to grow old and outlive everyone. At 89, he certainly knows and I’m just beginning to find out. Our job this weekend is to go and show him that he’s not alone.. we’re all with him in his unimaginable loss, and we’ll be with him until his own time comes to cross over and see Peg again.

Two lovelier and sweeter people you’ll never know. I hope I somehow got a bit of that across in this tiny tribute to a beautiful lady, who didn’t deserve the last few hellish years of her life. Don, Phyllis and other family members tried their hearts out to make it tolerable, and it’s possible they suffered more pain than she did in her blissful unawareness.

A kiss on the cheek and a tearful farewell to Beulah “Peg” Dorey. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to us. We’ll never stop loving you.


Granddad Don, Grandma Peg, Aunt Diana and Dorian on
the porch of Diana’s Port Hueneme Condo in 2001

A biography composed and published in their local paper by Peg’s daughters Phyllis and Diana..

Peg Dorey passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 15, 2009 at the age of 85.  She was born on November 12, 1923, in El Centro, CA and was one of seven children born to Nancy and Jesse Fisher.  She attended Tulare High School and graduated Valedictorian of her class in 1941.

She met Don Dorey of Lindsay, CA, in 1945 and they went “steady” until getting married in July, 1947.  They were very happily married for over 61 years.  Peg was a devoted wife and mother of three daughters.

The family resided in Lindsay, CA until 1955.  After moving to Lancaster, CA, Peg worked for the Antelope Valley High School and College District as Secretary to the Assistant Superintendent then, after moving to Reedley, CA in 1964, she worked as Executive Secretary to the Dean of Instruction at Reedley College for 14 years.  In 1978, she and Don retired to Camp Nelson, CA and made the cabin, where they had spent many summers and weekends, their retirement home.

Family was an important part of her life and she delighted in getting together on holidays and special occasions.  Peg loved to cook and entertain and everyone enjoyed her delicious meals and hospitality.  Her many interests included a deep admiration for Abraham Lincoln and she acquired quite a collection of portraits, books and other Lincoln memorabilia.  Other hobbies included reading, sewing, painting ceramics, collecting Native American artifacts and researching family genealogy.  Peg loved music and singing. Dolls were also a passion and she collected them, making clothes for all.  When her girls were young, she spent many of her days during summers at the cabin making dresses for the coming school year.

In 1981, Peg became editor-in-chief of the Upper Tule News.  She was an artist of sorts and many issues contained her artwork, little notes and jokes as space provided.  Peg and Don spent many hours b.c. (before computers) typing, printing (using a ditto reproduction machine), collating, stapling, addressing, stamping and distributing the paper for 12 years, until 1993.  During this time, she also contributed many articles to the Tule River Times and the Porterville Recorder.

In April, 1990, Peg and Don, accompanied by other family members, traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the military funeral of Don’s brother, Bob Dorey, at Arlington National Cemetery.  During retirement, she and Don traveled the western United States and Canada.  Her sister and brother-in-law, Juanita and Dick Smith, joined them on some of these trips and, needless to say, many good laughs were had by all.

Peg was preceded in death by her daughter, Donna Lois Dorey Brownlee, her parents, brothers Newt and Pat, and sisters Evelyn, Annette and Betty.  Peg is survived by her devoted husband, Don Dorey of Porterville, CA, and two daughters; Diana, with her husband Jim Hansen of Camp Nelson, CA, and Phyllis, with her husband David Thiessen of Cobb Mountain, CA, as well as her sister, Juanita Smith of Riverside, CA, eight grandchildren, five great grandchildren, a nephew and many nieces.

Peg went through life with a beautiful smile and had kind words for everyone.  She will be truly missed.

A Graveside Service will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2009, at 2 pm at the Duncan-McDonald Cemetery on Bear Creek Road in Springville, CA.  A Memorial Reception will be held at the Springville Inn immediately following the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Camp Nelson Volunteer Ambulance, P.O. Box 2108, Camp Nelson, CA 93208.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 BaristaOnDutY March 25, 2009 at 2:43 pm

My Thoughts And Prayers Are With Your Family. May Ms Peg’s Spirit Live On~


2 RhodesTer March 25, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Thanks Johnny – she will :-)


3 Dorian aka coffeesister |_|) March 25, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Exactly! In particular, the simple but phenomenal fact that “Peg stuck up for all of us.” She’s one of the only people to ever use the word potential in a good way — never disapprovingly & infused w/belief.

She oft said, “This too shall pass.” Alas, missing her won’t but this life will when the time is right &, as sad as it makes me, the timing was right for my soulmate & Grandma to bid us who’ve more to do adieu. She’ll carry on thru us as we do what she taught us to.. love unconditionally.

“Be sure that it is not you that is mortal, but only your body. For that whom your outward form reveals is not yourself; the spirit is the true self, not that physical figure which can be pointed out by your finger.” ~ Cicero


4 Darrell March 25, 2009 at 6:19 pm

A very moving, well written piece. You’re good at that. My sympathy to the family.

Darrell´s brilliant babbling..Fear Of Silence


5 RhodesTer March 25, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Thanks, SouthCon Darrell. She was the perfect grandmother.


6 Liz March 25, 2009 at 10:09 pm

I am sorry that I didn’t get to meet her. What a wonderful woman. Truly one who will be missed. My Maternal Granny was too the perfect grandmother who is sorely missed by myself as well but I have wonderful memories as you do to reminiscence about. My heart is with you.


<3 <3 <3


7 RhodesTer March 25, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Aw, thanks Lizzy. If it helps, I remember a few times that Dorian said to her, “my friend Elizabeth..” followed by some anecdote of something you two miscreants got into. So, she was told about you and appreciated your friendship.


8 Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach March 26, 2009 at 4:56 am

What a wonderful tribute!! Alas, my grandparents never touched my heart like that…you’re blessed by knowing that great lady.

Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s brilliant babbling..Weaker than a newborn kitten


9 Bubba March 26, 2009 at 8:49 am

It’s a small world. My mother knew Peggy! Not well, but knew her. You see we lived in Lancaster, CA. I had brothers and a sister who went to school there. My oldest brother could be a tool. Mom had to “go up to the office” a couple of times to handle handle problems of my oldest brother. It was a small town back then, most folks knew each other if they had something in common.


10 Lorna March 26, 2009 at 11:20 am

A lovely and loving tribute. You obviously can take joy from her life.

Lorna´s brilliant babbling..THE SHAME


11 RhodesTer March 26, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Barbara – Yep, I agree.

Bubba – GET OUT! You live with mom, right? Did you ask her? So this is for sure and not speculation? Try to reply before we leave tomorrow afternoon – I want to tell Granddad Don your story, he’d get a kick out of it.

Lorna – Wouldn’t we all love to have people talk about us this way when we’re gone? Peg deserved it.


12 Bubba March 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm

My story is true. More than once mom was called upon to have the fire removed from the soul of my brother. It never did stay out.

Way back, Lancaster was just another small desert town where almost everyone knew everyone if you ran in or near the same circles.

Ask Grandon if he knew Doctor Harris? He was the high school team doctor for years.


13 RhodesTer March 27, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Will do, Bubba.. leaving on the trip shortly.


14 Palm Springs Savant March 28, 2009 at 8:18 am

Sweet post. This is good energy you have created here in her memory. It will reverberate tenfold.

Palm Springs Savant´s brilliant babbling..The Saturday Seven: Favorite Paula Abdul Songs


15 Rene March 30, 2009 at 3:24 pm

What a beautiful tribute to a life well-lived. Guys, we are deeply sorry. Hope everything went as well as can be expected last weekend. Many hugs to you both.


16 RhodesTer March 31, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Thank you, Rick and Rene – I just got back, whereas Dorian has decided to hang out down there and help her mom and granddad Don through this transition. I have so much online catching up to do!


17 Carolyn Thompson Nouar March 31, 2009 at 8:15 pm

I have known Peg & Don my whole life. My Dad worked for Don for years at GTE. My Dad, Wayne Thompson, passed away on March 3. Peg was always someone he enjoyed laughing with and sharing a joke or jibe with. Losing my Dad was hard but it gives me some ease to think that he is enjoying the company of that sweet lady Peg Dorey. Dori, I didn’t realize until today that your lovely grandmother had passed. I would’ve been there on Saturday had I known. My heartfelt condolences to a you and your lovely family- I have so many, many warm and fun, happy memories of being with Peg & Don at Camp Nelson and sharing those sweet days gone by. I will always cherish those times and would like you all to know that Peg & Don, still are always in my heart.


18 Evie Thompson April 24, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Sorry for your lost, what a wonderful person to have had in your
lives! I came to this site because of a google search for Carolyn
Thompson Nouar, I ran across your postings on Gen-Forum
and would like to communicate about James Mimms Thompson!
My email is, Take Care….



19 RhodesTer April 25, 2009 at 10:29 am

Hi Evie, thanks for the nice comment.

Frankly, I haven’t a clue who those people are. That’s all my wife’s side of the family (Peg was her grandmother) so I’ll pass your comment and email address to her and make sure my mother-in-law, Phyllis, sees it. Phyllis is Peg’s daughter, thus daughter of Don Dorey.

RhodesTer´s brilliant babbling..The pea soup was super, man!


20 Katrina Keeley Stanford May 31, 2010 at 10:14 am

That was a wonderful story.. Made me remember family reunions at Camp Nelson. Aunt Peg and Uncle Don were wonderful people that I can remember vividly from my childhood. Bettye was my grandma. Thank you for sharing with us.


21 RhodesTer June 1, 2010 at 8:51 am

Hi Katrina, I’m glad you found this post since it’s been quite a while now since I put it up.

Yes, Don and Peg are amazing. He’s still up at the cabin, by the way. He has Diana living nearby at her Camp Nelson cabin and she drops in on him several times a day. Dorian’s mom, Phyllis, makes it up there as often as she can to help take care of dear old dad.

We all miss Peg terribly. She was a wonderful lady and a true friend.


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