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Dorothy Vessels, venerable retired teacher

February 11, 2013

Dorothy Gordon Vessels, 98, of Lewes, passed away Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, at the home of her son in Lewes.   She was born in Barnesboro, N.J., Thursday, April 16, 1914, daughter of the late Lewis Woodruff Gordon and Ida May Price Gordon.  In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband W. Allen Vessels Sr. in 2004.

As a daughter of a Methodist minister, Dorothy moved frequently across the four-state mid-Atlantic region during her childhood.  She first resided in Sussex County between April, 1927 and June, 1930. While living in Dagsboro and later in Harbeson, she attended Georgetown High School for her sophomore and junior years.  She lived with her maternal grandparents in Westminster, Md. for her senior year and earned a full scholarship to Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College, graduating in the class of 1935 with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics.

During those years in the 1930s, while in college and teaching in Hyattsville, Md., Dorothy spent her summers in Lewes, working for Mr. and Mrs. Gray at the Breakwater House at E. Market Street and Bayview Avenue.  After marrying Allen Vessels Sr. July 15, 1939, she became a full-time resident of Lewes, raising their family in the home he built for her at 1708 Bay Ave.

Mrs. Vessels was a teacher all her life, having taught high school sciences at the Lewes and Cape Henlopen school districts as well as teaching nursing chemistry at the Beebe School of Nursing and Del Tech in Georgetown.  She was a member of Bethel United Methodist Church in Lewes where she was church organist for 20 years during the 60s and 70s.  For many years she served as a docent for the College of Marine Studies in Lewes, however her true passion was volunteering for the Children's Beach House where she served on the board of directors.

She served in several community and professional organizations, including the Zwanendael Club, Delta Kappa Gamma, the Col. David Hall Chapter of DAR, and Friends of the Lewes Public Library, where she helped fundraising efforts for the building on Adams Street. Mrs. Vessels received the Price-Raley Award for outreach efforts supporting the U.D. College of Marine Studies in 1978.  She was a lifetime member of the Lewes Yacht Club. In her spare time she enjoyed reading and music.

Mrs. Vessels is survived by her sons, W. Allen Vessels Jr., and Rhodes Vessels, both of Lewes; her daughter Sylvia V. DuRoss and her husband James W. DuRoss Sr. of Smyrna; three grandchildren, Michael A. DuRoss and his wife Elizabeth of Hartly, James W. DuRoss Jr. and wife Sidney of New Castle, and Suzanne Harkin and husband Gregory of Middletown' and two great-grandchildren, Alexander R. DuRoss and Nadia Anneliese DuRoss both of Hartly. Mrs. Vessels will also be deeply missed by her canine companion, Miss Lily Pons, who so enjoyed snoozing with her on the kitchen couch.

Dorothy's family is fully aware that she might have departed this life on at least three previous occasions since 1994 had it not been for the fabulous interventions of modern medicine coupled with her own tenacity and joie de vivre.  We wish to thank Dr. Magdy I. Boulos at Christiana Hospital and Dr. Bhaskar S. Palekar, Dr. Rajinder Prasad, Dr. Edmund Carroll, Dr. Andrew Collins, Dr. Rodolfo Rios, and Dr. Blair Jones for their professional services over many years. We also extend heartfelt thanks to the assistants and caregivers who helped Mrs. Vessels during her later years at 112 Schley Ave., Lewes: Caroline Hill, Mary Beth Lally, Jacqueline Miller, Marie Gardner, and Jodie and David Jamgochian.

Funeral Services will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, Feb. 15, at Bethel United Methodist Church, 129 W. 4th Street, Lewes, where friends may call one hour prior to services at the church. Burial will follow the services at Conley's Methodist Cemetery, Robinsonville Road, Lewes.

Memorial contributions may be made to Bethel United Methodist Church, C/O the Music Committee, 129 W. 4th St., Lewes, DE 19958, or to the Childrens Beach House, 1800 Bay Ave., Lewes, DE 19958