Dorothy Mae Stagner, 92, died on February 21, 2021, in Storrs, CT.
Dorothy Mae O’Hara was born February 20, 1929 in a farmhouse in Reno County, Kansas to Dwight and Nina (Anderson) O’Hara. She attended a one-room school until sixth grade, when drought and the Great Depression caused the family to lose their farm and move to town. Dorothy finished school in Hutchinson, became salutatorian of her high school class and graduated from junior college. She met her husband, Giles Everett Stagner, in the Methodist church choir. They married in 1949 and Giles joined the Methodist ministry. Their first parsonage and church were destroyed in the devastating 1955 Udall tornado. In later years, Dorothy would sometimes introduce herself by saying “My name is Dorothy, I’m from Kansas, and my house blew away in a tornado.”
In addition to Udall, Giles served churches in Brandon, WI (where he commuted to seminary in Evanston, IL), and in several other Kansas towns including Peabody, St. Francis, Mulvane, Salina, Towanda, and Wichita. The role of preacher’s wife did not come easily to someone as quiet and reserved as Dorothy, but she managed the frequent moves and enjoyed singing in various church choirs and directing bell choirs. She and Giles raised six children and instilled a love of music in all of them. The family would pass the time on long car trips in the station wagon by singing in three-part harmony.
When her youngest child started school, Dorothy found a job in the local public library and continued working in libraries in each of the towns where the family moved. She was an avid reader and an expert at counted cross stitch. Good with words, she was always working a crossword or acrostic puzzle. She enjoyed writing poetry and was a dedicated correspondent. She also developed a love for Celtic music, enjoyed traveling to Scotland, and cherished a long-term friendship made there.
When Dorothy retired, she moved to Ames, IA where she was a member of the Ames Unitarian Fellowship and volunteered in the public library. She moved to Connecticut in 2014.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Giles, daughter Cheryl, son Craig, brother Donald O’Hara, and sister Carrol Ann Rogers. She is survived by her sister, Kathleen (Larry) Krob; her children, Cynthia (Ron) Myers, Curtis (Kay) Stagner, Cathryn Laird, Cora Stagner; nine grandchildren, and one great granddaughter. Dorothy’s ashes will be buried at a later date beside her husband and daughter in Fairlawn cemetery in Hutchinson, KS.
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