Dorothy Colwell grew up during the Great Depression. She was born at home in the town of Windsor and lived with her parents, maternal grandmother, older brother and two sisters on the family farm.
Dorothy remembered growing up without electricity or indoor plumbing, and her father cutting large slabs of ice from a nearby pond to keep their food cold year-round. She told stories of her grandmother churning butter, the matched pair of work horses her father used in the fields, of times when the men from the community gathered at their home to harvest the crops. Her parents were hospitable and often housed teachers from the one room school where her father was a trustee and where Dorothy attended school.
Dorothy began attending Windsor Central School when she entered 7th grade. She met fellow classmates Jessie Spafford and brothers Arlyn and Floyd Colwell who were to become life-long friends. She knew Arlyn was interested in her when he walked into their high school classroom and wiggled his eyebrows at her. Dorothy married Arlyn when she was 19 and he was 20.
|Jessie, Floyd, Dorothy, Arlyn - Senior Trip in NYC|
Dorothy and Arlyn started life together with few possessions and a home that was a “fixer upper” duplex they shared with Jessie and Floyd.
In the years that followed, five children were born—four daughters and one son. Dorothy and Arlyn remodeled the house eventually making it a one family home on their farm. They endured their share of hardships—back surgeries for Arlyn, one of their barns burning to the ground, and their youngest daughter being hit by a car resulting in a broken hip and five weeks in the hospital. Through all these things their love for each other deepened and their strong faith in God sustained them.
|Newly Remodeled Kitchen|
Ten years after their youngest daughter was born another baby girl joined the family.
Dorothy was a hard-working, loving wife and mother. As Alzheimer’s robbed her of her memory, she forgot Arlyn had passed away and often asked for him and looked for him, concerned for his welfare and longing to have him with her. She loved him until the day she died five days after their 72nd anniversary. For her, even death did not part them.
She gave birth to six children and loved each of them. She prayed for them individually daily. As they grew into adulthood she sought to find the balance between active, loving involvement in their lives and giving them the freedom to live their own lives and pursue their own dreams. Her greatest desire was that each of them and their descendants would know and love her Lord Jesus Christ.
Her children blessed her with 18 loved and enjoyed grandchildren. They were welcomed in her home and allowed to play freely. She read to them, did crafts with them, helped with their homework, went on excursions with them. Later she attended graduations, showers, weddings, and other happy events in their lives. Very little caused her eyes to sparkle more than having her grandchildren and great-grandchildren visit her.
Dorothy was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and spent much of her life involved in serving Him through the church. As a child and on into her 30s she attended West Colesville Baptist Church. She used her musical ability to sing solos and in duets or trios with her sisters and others. She led the teen girls Explorer Group in Pioneer Girls Club. Together with the girls in her group, she planned many activities and parties to help the girls earn their badges.
In the late 1960s, she and Arlyn along with several other couples from Windsor met together to form the Windsor Bible Baptist Church. They remained active members for more than 40 years until health issues forced them to pull back. Dorothy was active as a Sunday School teacher for young teen girls. She again used her vocal talent for singing special numbers. Several times she was responsible for signing people up to do special music. Additionally, she directed several children’s programs, was active in Ladies’ Missionary Fellowship, served in Awana, and organized meals for families in need.
Dorothy was an exceptional homemaker. Although she was a meticulous housekeeper, a good cook, and industrious in gardening and preserving food, her shining gift was creating a home. Her home was a place where people felt welcomed and comfortable. When her children were young, her home was the neighborhood gathering place to swim, play ball, and hang out. She hosted the Colwell family reunion for many years. As her kids grew and grandchildren came along, she hosted family gatherings and her home continued to be open to youth and adults.
Creative and ingenious she liked to sew, crochet, decorate, paint, do plastic canvas, and other crafts. She and Arlyn often worked together on gifts for their children or grandchildren. Taking after her mother, Dorothy wrote a column for the Windsor Standard for several years and contributed a chapter to the book Historical Essays of Windsor.
Dorothy was a talented, gracious woman who touched many people. But to her children she was “Mom” the one who loved us and believed in us no matter what, our staunchest encourager, our best friend. We are thankful for her love, her example, and her belief in us. We rejoice she is in Heaven, while simultaneously grieving the hole her passing has left behind here.
One of her favorite verses was:
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am they God:
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Isaiah 41:10 KJV