Dorothy Marguerite Shay Graves was born April 25, 1916, to Dorothy G. B. and Walter W. Shay in Hood River, Ore., at the “Stork’s Nest” — a maternity home owned by her paternal grandparents, Alice and Walter E. Shay. Her maternal grandparents were John and Anna Russell Lill, also of Hood River.
Dorothy and her family lived in Hood River until Dorothy was about 8 years old when they moved to Portland, Ore. The family moved again to Woodland, Calif., where her brother, Walter Ellis Shay, was born. Another move brought them to Sacramento, Calif., and then one more move found them in Burlingame, Calif., where Dorothy entered the eighth grade and graduated from Burlingame High School.
Dorothy attended three semesters at the College of San Mateo, taking business classes, and then went to work as a bookkeeper in San Francisco, where she met her future husband, William (Bill) J. Graves, at a local ice skating rink.
Dorothy and her mother had purchased a home that sat on a double lot in Burlingame, so when she became engaged to Bill the couple decided to build their own house on the back of that double lot. Dorothy and Bill were married at St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Burlingame on May 16, 1941.
Dorothy and Bill had two daughters and several dogs and cats. In 1948 the young family moved to a brand-new development in San Mateo known as “San Mateo Village,” and over the years the family loved to go camping. Dorothy and Bill also loved sailing on the San Francisco area lakes and bay and often took skiing trips during the wintertime.
Eventually Dorothy went back to work as a bookkeeper, retiring in the late 1970s. Bill retired a short time later and they bought property in Pollock Pines, Calif., built a house there and lived a retired life of travel, community connections, volunteerism and fun until Bill’s death in 1987. Dorothy stayed in Pollock Pines for a few years and then bought a home in Placerville, where she continued her volunteer work at the library and hospital.
Dorothy loved to garden and was an avid reader. She also continued her traveling, often with her eldest daughter, as well as providing many levels of support to her youngest daughter.
In January 2007 Dorothy’s younger daughter suffered a terminal illness and at the age of 90 Dorothy decided that taking care of her own home in Placerville by herself was too much, so she researched and planned a move to a retirement community in Southern Oregon to be closer to her surviving daughter.
While staying with her daughter in Yreka, Calif., she suffered a stroke in September 2007 that necessitated a move into a care facility. Her daughter found a wonderful licensed care facility called “A Touch of Home” in Etna, Calif., where Dorothy lived and was cared for by compassionate and fun-loving caregivers, and where her daughter was able to visit frequently.
Dorothy attended the Madrone Adult Day Center once a week and also took a class at the College of the Siskiyous during the fall of 2009.
In January 2010, Dorothy suffered another stroke, was placed in the care of Madrone Hospice but was able to be returned to her own room at “A Touch of Home” for her final days surrounded by family, familiar people and her own things. She died Jan. 11, 2010.
Dorothy was predeceased by her husband, William J. Graves, and her daughter, Margaret L. Jewell.
She is survived by her daughter, Katharine D. Graves, of Yreka, Calif.; grandson, Gregory T. Pyles, of Hayward, Calif.; niece, Carole Noonan and family, of Daly City, Calif.; nephew, John Musante and family, of Millbrae, Calif.; as well as various Lills and Shays around the country.
The family wishes to extend its thanks to the nurses and staff at Madrone Hospice as well as the owners and staff of “A Touch of Home” for the care, love, friendship and compassion shown to Dorothy.
Celebrations of Dorothy’s life will be planned for later dates in the spring and will be held in Placerville and San Mateo, Calif.
Dorothy requested any memorial contributions to go to any of the following: Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L. St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037; Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation, 16200 Hwy. 101, Willits, CA 95490; Friends of the Library of El Dorado County Inc., 345 Fair Lane, Placerville, CA 95667; Salvation Army of the U.S.A., the office closest to your zip code.
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