There are some who bring a light so great to the world, that even after they are gone, their light remains. Dorothy, a beloved resident of Vashon Island for 71 years, started her journey to Heaven February 25th and is now united with God, her beloved husband, Jim, and her son, Jimmy. She was born in Seattle on June 9 1924, to Louis Joseph and Hannah Murdoch Blanchard. The second to youngest in a family of ten, she was raised in a loving family where kindness and compassion were valued traits. She attended St George Catholic School and Cleveland High school, graduating in 1942, just when the US had become involved in World War II. She went to work in defense of our country at Boeing Aircraft Co.
Dorothy met the love of her life, Jim Neal, in 1941 at her favorite dance Hall The Spanish Castle. Jitterbugging was popular at the time and both excelled at this! Two years later in 1944 Jim and Dorothy were married at Our Lady of Lourdes in Seattle. In 1951, after purchasing Vashon Sheet Metal Works, they moved to Vashon Island with three small children, Kathy, Joe, and Diane. A city girl at heart, Dorothy walked Kathy to her first day of school in heels and gloves. On Vashon the family grew to three more children, Teresa, Jimmy and Michelle.
Dorothy’s greatest joy and pride in her life was her family. Sadly she lost her nine month old son, Jimmy, in 1959. She was involved wholeheartedly in her children’s lives being a Brownie & Girl Scout leader, a den mother, classroom volunteer, PTA President, baseball coach, and number one advocate.
Dorothy also was a gifted artist & puppeteer. She studied puppetry under Aurora Valentinetti at the UW and began a 12-year career designing and making more than 250 marionettes. She took her troupe (family and friends) with her Theater of the Little People and performed throughout Washington and Canada.
She loved to garden and was known for her green thumb and gorgeous dahlias which were often shared with church and friends.
Dorothy was also a talented seamstress & knitter. She made all her children’s ski outfits including stretch pants, parkas, gloves, Norwegian hand knit sweaters and hats to match.
Dorothy and Jim loved to golf and were members of the Vashon Island Golf Club since its inception. Dorothy had the distinguished honor of accomplishing two “holes-in-one.” They also loved to dance, especially Scandinavian dancing & were members of the Vasa Hope Lodge. They continued their dancing at the Tacoma Elks Club throughout their lives.
Dorothy loved children and she dedicated her life to nurturing and educating them. In 1974 she began working at the Burton Learning Center. In 1979 she was hired by Vashon School District to work in the library. While working, she also commuted to Seattle to complete her college degree. She received her BA from Central Washington University in 1984. After completing college she became the Vashon grade school librarian. She became an expert at children’s literature. She was a favorite among students and faculty and her library was a haven for learning all about the best books to read and projects to work on, a place where each child felt loved for their uniqueness. She made everyone feel special.
In 1994, Dorothy retired from the Vashon Island School District and joined her daughter Shelley at A Child Becomes Preschool. She was known as “Grandma Dorothy” to all. She created a literature program for young children including more than 50 detailed lesson plans with theories from Howard Gardner’s Multiple Levels of Intelligence. She called this program Grandma Dorothy’s Literature for Children. She read to the classes each week from a wide selection of children’s books she personally chose that kept her students wide-eyed and eagerly awaiting the baked and hand painted cookies she lovingly made to go with the story. She worked at the preschool for 26 years, having to retire when Covid arrived in 2020.
Dorothy leaves behind her sister Irene Dufort, her five children: Kathy Winge (Carl), Joe Neal, Diane Kukull (Walter), Teresa Walsh (John) and Michelle Neal (Ralph Pooler), 18 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, six great-great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. She was loved and adored by all!
There will be a Rosary said at Island Funeral Services March 24th at 7pm. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated by Rev. David Mayovsky at St. John Vianney at 11am on Friday, March 25th, with a luncheon following. Burial will be Saturday morning, March 26th, at Calvary Cemetery in Seattle.
Remembrances in Dorothy’s name may be sent to Providence Mt. St. Vincent Foundation, where she was lovingly cared for in the last years of her life. 4831 – 35th Ave SW Seattle, WA 98126