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What Dorinda Means to Us

Good morning! I was asked to speak about Dorinda’s personal side. That’s somewhat of a tall order because most people knew Dorinda from her public persona and not her private life. As available and out there as she always was, Dorinda was also very private, not opening her private world to many. Fortunately, I was blessed to know both worlds. Since I want to honor Dorinda for how she touched so many, I asked for help from others who knew her personal side as well. I want to thank everyone for helping me, and I hope you feel my editorial latitude has done justice to the message you wanted conveyed. So, we’ll let all of you in on some of the facets of Dorinda’s private life that made her who she was. We won’t disclose every detail, though, we still respect her privacy because we know she’s watching and listening!

Well, it all started over 20 years ago. There was group of adults, and I should stress very young adults, in the church that were looking for ways to connect and possibly start a new group. Dorinda, along with Melody Leidheiser, spearheaded the effort. So began the First Friends Fellowship or F.F.F. as we were more commonly known.

Some of us had been married a few years, others newly married, some with children, some without, some had been members for a period of time and some just newly received members, but all of us possessed one quality in common. The ability and desire to have a good time!

F.F.F. ebbed and flowed for a period of time with people joining the fray. They’d move, change churches or decide to seek other opportunities. Through it all a “core” group of individuals became the constant. When F.F.F. dissolved, the “core” group realized we had something going that we didn’t want to let go of. We had friendships, relationships, shared fellowship. What blossomed over the years moved beyond all the other things I mentioned, we became a family!

During this same period of time the first “Couples Retreat” was established and has become what is now an over 20 year tradition with First Church couples. Dorinda was a big part of the planning and helping but mostly having fun! We all gave ourselves permission to depart our regular lives for a little weekend of spiritual growth, games, food, hikes and laughter into the wee hours. Dorinda loved to share the stories of past gatherings and how someone (especially one of the guys) had been made a fool. She liked to laugh allot.

Our family has been through thick and thin; joy and celebration, pain and sorrow. We ate, played, partied, shared parenting woes, spousal woes, ate some more! We’ve seen relationships change, the birth of children, watching them grow, confirmations, birthdays, graduations, get married, milestone anniversaries, the loss of parents and siblings, but never before have we lost of one of our own.

When I asked for help with this message, I asked the question, what do you think of when you think of Dorinda? Here’s what we have to say…….

Lists! Dorinda was the Queen of Lists! There were lists for her, lists for the kids, lists for Keith (often good naturedly ignored), lists for church functions and volunteers. They were not to be taken lightly for Dorinda usually meant business and accomplished much.

Sun, fun, beach, books and doodads! – Dorinda loved trips to the beach with her books. Outer Banks was the destination of many vacations with family and friends. On those trips, the only time Dorinda put down her book and left the beach was to go shopping. We had not seen much of this before, but the kids told us, oh yeah, she even shopped on the mission trips! If a store had doodads and trinkets, she was there browsing for the perfect thing. This didn’t apply to life in general so much, just when she was traveling. Dorinda and Mary Weaver discovered an outlet mall while on vacation one time and it became a favorite experience of the whole trip!

Dorinda's other favorite beach was on Kelley’s Island, under an umbrella with a book. With hat and sunglasses in hand she’d begin literary Mecca by plunging herself into a fine, upstanding work of true romance (you know like one of those steamy romance novels). Dorinda was a literary lover, she shared many authors and books – always providing great escapist reading for everyone! If the day wasn't nice enough to go to the beach she'd find a spot to curl up and read and when the sun did come out she'd sit out in the yard and soak it all up.

Kelley’s Island, parades, floats, costume ideas and much more! – If you were planning an event, you didn’t have to make a list for Dorinda, she always knew what you needed. For the first parade at Kelley’s Island the theme was “The Fabric of our Lives” and we came up with a toilet paper queen idea for the girls and bucket brigade for the guys. Guess who came with toilet plungers, toilet paper, coat hangers, candy to throw? You could count on Dorinda to bring the supplies you didn’t know you needed. Whether it was extra water, teabags, tissues, candy for the parade, snacks, games, beach toys (way past when the kids needed them). Dorinda’s Market Day bags were always full.

Food habits! – Dorinda enjoyed Margaritas with salt, some blue drink called a Tarantella, chocolate (she really liked chocolate) and eating her cereal one piece at a time! I remember Dorinda always packing the cooler for our day at the beach or the parade on the island. She would have plenty of liquids to share and some healthy snacks along with the chocolate, of course!

Parties! – There was Square Dancing, Halloween parties, New Year's parties, Bowl Game parties, Hockey games, Christmas Eve gatherings, July 4th picnics, and impromptu dinner gatherings. Most all of the parties we had together were always celebrated in style with whole families.

Church events! – Softball Team, Golf Team, Cookbooks, Couples Retreats, Advent Workshops, Women’s Retreat, Mission Trips. Many of you may not remember, but Dorinda, Melody and I wrote the First Church Cookbook, The Bread of Life. That was a labor of love for the church, Dene Barnard and the music of the church. The fun of gathering member-loved recipes, organizing (guess who was in charge of that) and finally seeing it come to print was amazing. Also, most retreats and workshops were never complete without some kind of craft to work on. Dorinda loved crafts and was very creative. She even made custom hand-made jewelry when she was ill so the youth would have it for their most recent Mission Trip auction.

Babies, oh the babies! - Whenever one was born in the congregation Dorinda was the first to visit the family. If she entered a room, and there was a baby she gravitated to the baby and would have that child in her arms in a matter of minutes. She loved babies! As our babies grew, any of you who shared parenting woes with Dorinda will recall that “knowing smile” or “outright laughter”, having experienced the same things.

There were so many facets to Dorinda. How do you sum up such an important relationship in your life? She was not only a friend, but a teacher, mother, mentor, sister, a shoulder to cry on, laugh with, commiserate with, and yes, have lunch with. There was never a time she wasn’t involved in something. But, it still comes down to the fact that we were very lucky to be even a small part of that life. What she gave, we can never repay.

People have come and gone, couples changed, jobs lost and hair grayed, but we won’t be the same…ever. It will be difficult to plan future retreats and gatherings. Some of the spice will be lost – like salt & pepper, there’s always been Keith & Dorinda.

We can only pray that our families continue to stay together and that our children remain in the circle of their good First Church Friends, loving, learning, growing, laughing, playing, making lists, having wonderful parties, sharing with friends and spouses what they learned at the White household. It was such a wonderful example of family and extended family love.

Today is a day of mixed emotion. We miss our family member and friend, but also delight in what she so unselfishly shared with each and every one of us. Let’s remember the all the good blessings Dorinda shared and be thankful for being a part of her personal life.