Banker. Bookkeeper. Social Butterfly. GranVida Resident.
Dorothy, Queen of The Red Hats
Dorothy and her two sisters were born in Steelville, Missouri. Their Dad was in construction, so they moved to wherever the jobs took him. Before finishing high school, she attended 15 different schools in Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri. Her Dad was primarily building roads. He’d work so many miles, and then move the family to the next town to build another stretch of the road. They lived in a trailer that was eight-feet wide, but it grew in length as the size of the family grew. The longest one was a 33-footer.
“We’d just pick up and move with the trailer. My parents didn’t even get a real home until all of us girls were married and we had homes of our own.”
“The Dam People”
Her Dad worked for two different companies for 50 years, building roads as well as dams as an operating engineer. Eventually, they moved to Santa Ynez, California, in 1950, so he could finish the Bradbury Dam near Santa Barbara that eventually formed Lake Cachuma.
“When we moved up here to Santa Ynez to finish the project, the people there called us ‘The Dam People’. That’s the truth.”
Married Her High School Sweetheart
Dorothy met her future husband, Ralph, during the last year of high school, but her family moved to California in 1950. Two months later, they got married in Ballard, California, which is quite close to Santa Ynez.
“In 1964, we then moved back to Carpinteria, California when Ralph got a job offer here. I’ve been mostly in this area ever since. My kids live here—one lives right across the street from my old house.”
Like her father, Dorothy’s husband traveled for work, selling medical equipment, steel and industrial supplies. They welcomed a son in Kansas and a baby girl in California. The kids grew up and later blessed them with two grandchildren who call her “Gran” and five great-grandchildren who call her “Nana”.
After her husband passed, Dorothy got a cockatiel who, for 12 years, talked maybe a little too much.
“Our bird was quite a character and really cute. He would say, ‘Well, I got to go to bed’ as well as things we can’t repeat in this PG-rated story.”
She moved up the ranks as Operations Teller, Operations Officer, Assistant Cashier, then worked for the bank president.
“I worked all the time. It wasn’t my thing to sit at home. So, I took banking classes at the city college and worked for Garces High School in Bakersfield as a bookkeeper.”
Back to Carp
In 1984, Dorothy moved back to Carpinteria from Bakersfield and worked with the contractors who’d built a condominium complex in Santa Barbara first as a part-time bookkeeper and later as the sales manager until she retired in 1998.
Giving Back to Her Community
Two artificial knees and an artificial right hip haven’t deterred Dorothy from offering service to the greater community.
For 17 years, Dorothy was a member of the national Phi Epsilon Phi Sorority in Ventura. She played an integral role in planning their cancer fundraisers, silent auctions, yard sales and donation of scholarships to worthy students in the area.
She looks forward to her community church meetings the first Friday of every month, and, for the past 15 years, has been a member of California Seniors, Incorporated.
Dorothy and The Red Hat Society
In 1997, Sue Ellen Cooper bought an old red fedora from a thrift shop in Tucson, Arizona. Inspired by a well-known poem, Sue started buying red hats for her friends as part of an effort to encourage them to embrace life at its fullest, have fun every day and grow old on their own terms.
~ by Jenny Joseph
WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Papier Mache Press—Watsonville, California 1987
If anyone fits that bill, it’s Dorothy who now has a collection of 15 red hats that she trots out whenever she meets with the Oxnard Red Hat Society. Now one of the largest social organizations catering to women over 50, the Red Hat Society is where it’s at!
About her favorite club, Dorothy says:
“We go out to monthly lunches and we’d all wear fancy purple and red hats. It’s just a social thing. We’re just like little kids who want to play dress up.”
Small Town. Great Life.
In 2017, Dorothy moved into GranVida where she’s continued her very energetic social life. She enjoys dining with each and every resident, making a point to not only get to know them but to make them feel at home.
Dorothy is also a cheerleader for our life enrichment programs, going on all the field trips as well as participating in many of the classes offered, especially the art and cooking classes.
She’s just one of the many amazing people who love the “small town, great life” at GranVida, and where she is thinking about starting a new chapter of the Red Hat Society!