Dorothy Elizabeth Butler was born in Fairview, Texas on June 29, 1929, the youngest child of Henry Carlton Butler and Janie Lou Gentry. She grew up on the family farm and graduated from Floresville High School. Dorothy then entered Baptist Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in San Antonio to pursue her childhood dream and became a registered nurse.
Upon graduation, she moved to Alpine, Texas to work in the Lockhart Clinic and complete a Bachelor of Science at Sul Ross State University and get her teaching certification. There she met and married George Wesley Quillian of Pleasanton, Texas. Her sorority sister, Dolphia Parker, who later became the wife of the young actor, Dan Blocker (also a college friend), was a bridesmaid. The couple returned to the Floresville area to teach in the elementary school at Blackhill. They later moved to Pleasanton where Dorothy taught Junior High English. Their marriage produced one child, a daughter, but they later divorced.
It was in Pleasanton that Dorothy began her long career in nursing. She created the position of school nurse and had the medical care of more than 1000 children. Dorothy assisted in the newly established Tuberculin testing and Polio inoculation programs. She also made home visits when the school system instituted the Head Start Program.
During this time, Dorothy entered Trinity University and took a Master of Science degree. Her thesis, the “The Qualifications of School Board Members in the State of Texas” was utilized by the federal government to review the education of school boards across the nation.
Dorothy later moved to Tilden, Texas to teach high school English but, seeing the great need for medical care in the school system, she acquired funding and developed a new school nursing program for Mc Mullen County ISD. It was a first for Tilden.
She returned to San Antonio upon the death of her mother, Janie, and brother-in-law, Otto Hierholzer, to fulfill a lifelong ambition to work with the military. Dorothy entered the U.S. Civil Service as a nurse in Neurology at Wilford Hall Hospital, Lackland AFB. She transferred to Brook Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, first to Neurology/Neurosurgery and, then the Institute of Surgical Research. It was at the ISR (Brook Army Burn Unit) she would spend the next nineteen years, winning copious commendations for her work. Her patients ranged from the Pan Am & KLM Royal Dutch airline disaster in the Canary Islands to the Marine base explosion in Japan. She also periodically acted as a flight nurse for the critically ill.
Her determination to serve in the military went beyond Civil Service. Defying age regulations for women of that period plus numerous rejections by both the Air Force and Army, she was finally accepted as a Major into the US Army Reserve Corps. It was a triumph to Dorothy’s dauntless spirit of determination when she overcame that barrier to serve her country. She was honorably discharged. When Dorothy later retired from the Burn Unit, she was a GS 13 (equivalent to a Lt. Colonel).
Her nursing career continued as a charge nurse at Parklane West Healthcare Center for military veterans where she worked as a charge nurse on medical unit. Dorothy finally retired in her 70’s but was asked to return to the Burn Unit after 9/11. She declined due to health reasons.
Her lively curiosity and desire to learn more never flagged. She was constantly reading, studying and keeping in touch with her former colleagues in the ways of alternative therapies and new treatments. That love of nursing and medicine carried her through good times and bad.
In 2012, the home beside Calaveras Lake in San Antonio that she had lavished such care upon, burned. The loss in property and memories was profound, especially to a former burn nurse. She took up residence, first in the Wedgwood Senior Apartments and later, Esplanade Gardens, an assisted living facility in Converse, Texas. She was accompanied by her faithful caregiver and friend, Amanda Elizondo, who had begun caring for Dorothy while still lived at home. She died at Esplanade Gardens on Saturday, May 9, 2015.
Dorothy Butler is survived by her daughter, Gwyndolyn Elizabeth Gail Butler of Chicago, Illinois, two nephews by marriage, E.J. Hierholzer and Otto. J Hierholzer Jr., both of Floresville, Texas, several great nephews and great niece Linda Bourland Keen of Schertz, Texas. She also leaves behind former Brook Army burn nurse and her military ‘son’, Jeff Lambert of Modesto, California.
Dorothy Elizabeth Butler, RN, has died but her spirit and gift to the nursing profession will live on through the countless lives she helped to save.
Visitation will be held from 4:00 - 6:00 P.M. Sunday, May 17, 2015, at Vinyard Funeral Home Chapel in Floresville, Texas. Graveside funeral services will be held at 11:00 A.M. Monday, May 18, 2015, at Floresville City Cemetery in Floresville, Texas, officiated by Pastor Peter Aguilar, Floresville United Methodist Church, Floresville, Texas, followed by interment.
George Wesley Quillian
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