Those who knew Doti won't be surprised to learn that she wrote her own obituary – well, part of it, anyway. When she was in the hospital shortly after Christmas, we talked about her obituary and Doti told me that all she wanted it to say was, "Please be happy. I am."
This was similar, she reminded me, to our father's obituary. Dad passed away in 2002 and before he died, I asked him what he wanted his obituary to say. He replied very simply, "Enjoy life. I did." He didn't want to go on and on about his life because he was a very modest person. My father had the most fascinating life of anyone I've ever known, so I decided to embellish his obituary a bit and wrote several paragraphs about him – but I ended his obituary with his line, "Enjoy life. I did." I showed it to him before he died and he liked it.
Doti wanted the same thing: a very simple obituary. But in addition to "Please be happy. I am," she decided a few minutes later to add one more line: "We're all here to love and learn."
I told her I'd submit her obituary after she passed away. However, over the next four weeks while she was lying in her bed in the Hospice House, I decided to embellish it, just as I'd done with my father's obituary, to tell people about Doti's wonderful life. After I finished writing it, I decided not to read it back to Doti because, knowing that she could be pretty particular about things (bless her heart), I figured she'd edit whatever I'd written. Oh yes, I suppose that was sneaky on my part, but I think Doti, wherever she is, will understand.
So with that in mind, here's her obituary:
Dorothy ("Doti") Leu
March 28, 1945 - January 28, 2017
Doti Leu, a long-time resident of Sudden Valley, passed away peacefully at the Whatcom Hospice House on January 28.
Doti was born in Fort Pierce, Florida to her parents, Don and Anne Leu, where Don was training with the Navy SEALs during World War II. The first of five children born into the Leu family and the only girl, Doti moved to Bellingham with her parents after the war where her father studied at Western Washington College (he would later be named one of Western’s 10 Alumni of the Century for his work in education). She was devoted to both parents her entire life, as her parents were to her.
Doti spent much of her youth in East Lansing, Michigan. She eloped when she was 19 and moved with her husband to New Mexico, where she earned a B.A. in Education, and then lived in Montana before settling in Hayward, California in 1968, where she raised her loving son, Myles. Her happiest times were those spent with Myles and with her parents. Sadly though, Myles was taken from her when he was just 18. Doti’s lifelong passion was helping children and her proudest achievement was starting a preschool in Hayward for Myles and others, which still thrives.
Always adventurous, Doti lived in a cabin in Idaho for two years and then moved to Lincoln City, Oregon in 1984. She tutored children there for 15 years, emphasizing the connection between nutrition and learning, and then returned to Bellingham in 1999 to care for her father in Sudden Valley shortly after her mother had passed away. With her innate love of nature, Doti was frequently seen strolling through the quiet parks and forests of Sudden Valley and along the Stimpson Trail.
Doti was a gentle spirit who walked the earth with a profusion of light, love and tranquility, and she valued her relationships deeply, much more than money or material things. She possessed an abundance of kindness, sensitivity, joy and spirituality and those who knew her were blessed with the lessons she taught us. As she prepared for her next journey and the thought of seeing her son Myles again, her message to everyone was: “We’re all here to love and learn. And please be happy – I am.”
Below: Doti's obituary as it appeared in the Bellingham Herald newspaper: February 5, 2017.