Dorothy Thomson embarked upon life in Gleason, Tennessee on February 23, 1924. The daughter of an oilfield worker, her earliest years were spent moving from place to place in Texas and Oklahoma as her father followed the ever-changing location of work opportunities. Ever on the move, her earliest education was fragmented at best.
That changed when the family moved to Finney, Texas, to become farmers and work alongside her grandfather and uncles. There Dorothy resumed her schooling in a one-room schoolhouse—this time without interruption. Ultimately, the depression drove her father off the farm, and he found work as a carpenter in nearby Paducah, Texas. There, Dorothy entered and graduated high school. She also met her future husband, Bill, son of a tobacco-chewing cotton buyer. They started dating when she was 14, and he was 16. They married at ages 17 and 19 and were truly in love for all of their time together.
Bill was already enlisted in the U.S. Air Corps, so Dorothy joined him at his first air base, Majors Field in Greenville, Texas. It was there that she gave birth to their first child, Ronnie. Until the end of World War II, Bill served at multiple bases throughout Texas.
After the war, Abilene, Texas was the Thomson family’s first stop. There, Bill entered Hardin Simmons University in the spring semester of 1947, to earn a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Ultimately, he also earned a master’s degree in Educational Administration. While Bill went to class and worked multiple part-time jobs and studied, Dorothy beautifully and joyfully tended to her child and created a warm, loving, inviting home on a meager budget.
In the spring of 1949, with a new degree in hand, Bill and Dorothy moved to Whitharral, Texas, where Bill assumed the position of the high school principal. Both learned together the ropes of civilian professional life. The Whitharral folks welcomed them into their culture, and they loved it! Shortly, a new child was on the way in the Thomson family. Joyful expectations were extinguished when the eagerly awaited daughter did not survive birth. Spurred by a desire to escape the sadness, both mother and father felt a change of residence would be helpful. Their search for this new beginning took them to Memphis, Texas, where Bill served as the principal of Austin Elementary School and later as the Memphis Junior High School principal.
In September of 1953, Dorothy gave birth to another healthy son, Randy. Dorothy was active in ladies’ clubs, the First Baptist Church, and school activities in Memphis. She augmented the family income by providing child care services for working mothers—price of $5 per week per child! She quickly developed a reputation for providing excellent childcare, and her services were much sought after.
After eleven years in Memphis, Bill received an invitation from the Shallowater Independent School District to interview for the position of the high school principal. He did so and was hired. The Thomsons moved to Shallowater in the summer of 1964. It was in Shallowater that Dorothy had her first public school work opportunity as a teaching assistant at the elementary school. She was a natural.
After seven good years in Shallowater, Bill accepted a position in Lubbock ISD in the fall of 1971. A year later, Dorothy was hired as the library clerk at Lubbock High School. She reported to an individual who had a reputation for being almost impossible to work with. By the end of her first semester there, however, they had made progress toward becoming actual friends. By the end of the school year, their relationship was solidified into a real friendship that extended well into retirement. In 1981 Bill retired from his position as the Wright Elementary School principal, and Dorothy retired from her position as a library clerk.
In retirement, they had fun! They regularly walked three miles per day, played card games with family in Lubbock—especially with Bill’s brother and his wife, Puryear and Guyneth Thomson—and spent much time in northern New Mexico in their pop-up camper. They also provided major support and assistance to elderly parents and other aging relatives. Their greatest pleasures, however, were their two granddaughters, Lauren and Hayley, the daughters of son, Randy, and his wife, Gayla. Bill and Dorothy had waited a long time for those two young ladies and finally got the grandchildren they always longed for. Lauren and Hayley were the true lights of their lives.
All went well in retirement—bordering on perfection for almost nineteen years—until Bill unexpectedly had a stroke in early January 2000, and passed away six days later.¬¬¬ Dorothy’s world fell apart, and Dorothy herself would have done the same had she not recognized what was happening to her. At that point, she willfully and determinedly committed herself to changing. And change she did–with the help of the ministry of Monterey Baptist Church and a group of widows in the church who played cards every Wednesday afternoon. They laughed and had fun, as “sad talk” was forbidden. Over time, Dorothy learned to live with her ever-felt grief and still enjoyed life.
From late September 2018 to early January 2019 Dorothy had three major falls in which she broke the femur in both legs and bruised her coccyx. By May 2019 it was evident that she would likely not heal and would remain wheelchair bound. As the fiercely independent woman that she always was, this was not the life that Dorothy could accept and live. In May 2019 Dorothy also had a congestive heart failure event, and soon entered palliative care at Covenant Hospital. Dorothy passed from this world to the next very peacefully in her sleep in the early morning hours of May 30, 2019.
Dorothy was the very last of the “greatest generation” on both sides of the family. Throughout her life Dorothy’s central passions were being a good wife, mother, and homemaker. She succeeded at all three. She was a plain spoken, straight-talking Texas lady of true grit. She was firm in her friendships and faithful to her word. Dorothy always kept a recently baked cake in the freezer in case Monterey Baptist Church needed one for a funeral or other event. That’s just the way she was.
The family wishes to thank so many people—too many to name them all—in Dorothy’s life who allowed her to remain in Lubbock, where she really wanted to be, and to live for almost 48 years in the only house that she and Bill ever owned. They are especially grateful to:
• Dorothy’s niece and nephew, Peggy and N. H. Steed, for being her “go-to folks” for years whenever she needed home repairs of many types, transportation to/from the doctor or hospital, and just to sit and talk over a cup of coffee;
• Dorothy’s niece and nephew, Mary Ann and Carl Teeter, for visiting, checking on, and offering to help however needed;
• Everyone at Monterey Baptist Church who knew and loved Dorothy—especially the ladies of the Wednesday “card group” for the joy and fellowship they provided
• “Brother Jim” and Diana Brown, former pastor of Monterey Baptist Church and wife for their hours of devotion and help over the years—especially in these last days;
• Dr. Weldon Ash (deceased), Dr. Mounir Borno, and Dr. James Burke for allowing Dorothy to make them more than “just her doctors”—she insisted that they also be her good friends;
• And—most especially—to Idelma (“Little Girl”) Gonzales for serving first as Dorothy’s housekeeper but then quickly evolving into her personal assistant, chauffeur, errand runner, confidante, and very best friend for over eighteen years.
A time of fellowship and remembrance is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, 2019, at Lake Ridge Chapel and Memorial Designers. Family and friends will gather to celebrate her life of 95 years at 2 p.m. on Monday, June 3, 2019, at Lake Ridge Chapel.