|Birth: ||Mar. 20, 1923, Canada|
|Death: ||Jul. 12, 2009|
Cold Lake Census Division
Dorothy Preston: March 6, 1923 to July 12, 2009
Written by Betty Preston Todd in 2010
Dorothy Jean Perkins was born in Toronto on March 6, 1923. Her life changed at the age
of 13 when her mother passed away leaving her in charge of a household that included her
dad, two brothers and a boarder. With the help of her aunts, Dorothy ran the house and
this is likely how she became such a superb cook and housekeeper.
Dorothy met Alex in the air force and they married on July 27 1946. Friends cautioned
Dorothy that Alex was too set in his ways and that she should marry someone else … but
Dorothy was in love. They set about raising their family down east and later moved to
Vancouver when Betty was two and Billy was just a baby. Five years later they moved to
Edmonton which became their permanent home.
Dorothy had an ordinary life that revolved around her family … taking the kids to the
movies, attending school events, cooking and baking. Dorothy bowled weekly in a league
and Alex, Betty and Bill always put money in a jar the night before, along with a guess as to
what her total score would be. Bowling day was the only day that Dorothy was not there
when Betty came home from school and Betty just hated coming home to an empty house.
Golfing was Dorothy's favorite sport … well, perhaps it was not the actual golfing, although
she did enjoy it … but the highlight was going out for lunch at the Highlands clubhouse
after her 18 holes. Hamburger and fries were always the order of the day. Dorothy never
walked the course … she hated exercise of any kind. While Alex was the great golfer to
whom the game was a serious passion, it was Dorothy who everyone wanted to golf with
… because she was so much fun!
Card games were a huge part of Dorothy's life as well. She had a twice-a-month bridge
group of eight ladies who remained lifelong friends. The lunch that they served in the
evening after the card game ended, was as important as the game itself, and some of Betty's favorite recipes today came from those bridge luncheons. Dorothy and Alex also played
cards with their best friends, the Penningtons, at least once a week putting the winnings
aside for the four of them to later take trips together. Without family nearby, as Dorothy's
family remained down east and Alex's family were in BC and California, holidays and
special dinners were always spent with the Penningtons. The summers did find Dorothy's
dad coming out for a few weeks from Toronto and Dorothy made granddad all his favorite
pies and meals and enjoyed going to the horse races with him.
Gardening was another love of Dorothy's and she had beautiful flower gardens and shrubs.
The vegetable garden was Alex's domain but Dorothy froze vegetables galore every fall as
well as made jars and jars of pickled beets and chili sauce. Dorothy also loved reading and
as she found longer books too complicated she still read all those Harlequin romances … she
loved those happy endings!!
Dorothy didn't work outside her home other than being hired at Eatons Department Store
every Christmas to work in the Children's Secret Santa Gift shop. There she and Mrs.
Pennington helped children select and wrap special gifts for their families …. Dorothy
certainly didn't consider this work at all.
Dorothy and Alex travelled to California to visit the Preston relatives at least once a year.
Alex would golf and Dorothy would visit. She quickly became everyone's favorite aunt
and to this day still receives cards and letters from her niece Sue Chenoweth, who was her favorite. Sue recently wrote: Auntie Dot had the BEST personality. When we were out she would
talk to everyone. Our favorite description of Dorothy came from a neighbor who lived across the back alley. "Put a hat on a fire hydrant", he said, "and Dorothy would talk
to it"! How true … she was friendly beyond compare. Friends of ours who met her …
even once … were immediately invited to come over to the house and if they lived out of
town they were invited to stay overnight as well. She had the most inviting home where
everyone felt comfortable and welcome. As a matter of fact, it was in 1986 when Rhonda
first went to Dorothy and Alex's home in Edmonton as her daughter Melissa was having
surgery in the same hospital and at the same time as our son Matt was. It just seemed
natural that they would stop by for a visit.
Dorothy's life changed dramatically the year Rod taught her to drive. No longer dependent
on friends and neighbors to take her grocery shopping or golfing or bowling she became an
independent woman. For this and many other reasons, Dorothy thought the sun rose and
set on Rod. Alex gave her a car and at age 48 she became an excellent driver. This also
allowed her to later drive to Bonnyville and Cold Lake to spend time with her
We didn't realize that Dorothy's memory was failing as we were living in Cold Lake at the
time. Alex made the decision to move from their home in the Capilano area of Edmonton
across town to a senior's village near West Edmonton Mall. Although Dorothy seemed just
fine when talking to her on the phone it was during visits to Edmonton that the signs of
memory loss were apparent. Dorothy first entered McConnell House in 1998. It was on
the north end of Edmonton and was only for residents with alzheimers. She was later
fortunate to be transferred to the McConnell House behind the Misericordia Hospital as that
was only a few blocks away from where they lived. Alex never missed a day visiting.
Dorothy loved all the activities … baking, folding laundry, listening to musical groups,
watching movies … and of course she was a favorite with the staff there. Her disease,
however, was progressing and shortly after Alex's death in July 2000 she moved to
Extendicare in Bonnyville. Again, Dorothy did very well in that facility and participated
happily in all the activities but driving to visit four times a week took its toll on Betty and
Rod. It was in Bonnyville that Rhonda started visiting Dorothy with Betty on a regular
basis. The first time a bed became available in the Cold Lake Long Term Care unit, Betty
turned it down as it was too soon to move Dorothy again, but in May 2001 Dorothy came
to Cold Lake. Although she was walking, talking, singing, occasionally swearing (oh …. she
would have been mortified if she knew that because she never swore before then) and
laughing … she was a much different person than the Dorothy here the last few years.
If we were to describe Dorothy it would be as an easy-going, caring, loving, family person.
In truth, she was quite a character!! Oh how she absolutely loved Erin, Adam and
Matthew. Her grandchildren were her pride and joy and she couldn't get enough of them.
Oh how she would have loved Josh and our Maya. Dorothy was a wonderful homemaker
who loved to cook and bake … and she loved to eat her baking as well. She struggled with
her weight all her life and never ever lost her "sweet tooth". She was a wonderful
neighbor and friend … but most of all, she was a wonderful mom and wife. She loved her
family with all her heart and it comes as no surprise how loved she was in return. Betty
said that Dorothy took a piece of her heart with her when she left and that is likely true.
We are grateful to the staff who became her family and to our own friends and family who
visited and cared about Dorothy. Visits from Jaqui and Carol were enjoyed and appreciated
by Dorothy … especially when Betty was away. Alzheimer's is a difficult disease because
people just stop visiting … granted, it is a hard thing for some people to do. That being said
…. We do not know what we would have done without Rhonda's support and friendship
and genuine caring for Dorothy. She shared her grandchildren with Dorothy and they
brought a light and sparkle to Dorothy's eyes. She was truly the best visitor ever and
Dorothy knew Rhonda's voice as soon as she entered the room. How lucky Dorothy was
to have a pal like her … and that's what she called her … my pal. Rhonda and Betty were
trying to figure out when exactly it was that Dorothy stopped talking to them … other than
a few words or phrases. They think that it was at least four years ago but they aren't really
sure of that because a word or two from Dorothy just made their visit … especially if it
made sense! Towards the end, the simple act of opening her eyes or raising her eyebrows
was enough for them to know that she understood them. And be assured that even if
Dorothy was unable to respond at times, she did often understand what they were saying.
Betty said she feels so fortunate to have had the time and opportunity to let Dorothy know
how lucky she felt to have her for a mom and how much she loved her. The day before
she died she reminded Dorothy of the story "GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU" where
Nutbrown Hare says "I love you to the moon and back and I always will" That's how
Betty loved Dorothy and the best thing is …. she knew that Dorothy felt exactly the same
way about her … even if she couldn't tell her.
Although Dorothy will be missed, she is … forever in our hearts.
Alex Preston (1914 - 2000)
William Robert Preston (1952 - 1997)*
Westlawn Memorial Gardens
Edmonton Census Division
Plot: F - 15 - 173
Created by: Sue Chenoweth
Record added: Nov 01, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 79718168