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Mon, July 06

Obituary: Dorothy Edna Meckfessel

Dorothy Edna Meckfessel received a three-year registered nurse's diploma from the Evangelical Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis, Missouri on Sept. 7, 1950. She was accepted and attended the University of Missouri Medical School in 1956, a feat unheard of for a female in the 1950s.

Dorothy Edna Meckfessel received a three-year registered nurse's diploma from the Evangelical Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis, Missouri on Sept. 7, 1950. She was accepted and attended the University of Missouri Medical School in 1956, a feat unheard of for a female in the 1950s.

Dorothy Edna Meckfessel of Cottonwood was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on Dec. 14, 1926, to Frederick and Pauline nee Schroeder Meckfessel. The name Meckfessel was derived from Meckvessel in the state of Mecklenberg in Germany, located in former Prussia. Dorothy passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, with her friend of 22 years, Diane Joens, holding her hand. She attained the age of 87 years and one month. Caring friends in Cottonwood who also helped Dorothy along the way were Vickie Tillemans and Randy Keenan.

Dorothy received a three-year registered nurse's diploma from the Evangelical Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis, Missouri on Sept. 7, 1950. She was accepted and attended the University of Missouri Medical School in 1956, a feat unheard of for a female in the 1950s. Although she did not become a doctor, in 1957 she earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from the University of Missouri, aided by all the pre-med and medical school classes she had completed. In 1964 Dorothy courageously traveled alone to India, volunteering for six months at the Frances Newton Hospital in Ferozepore, India. This interesting journey is described in her autobiography, The Fascinating Life of an Ordinary Person. In 1970 she returned to India via a sightseeing tour sponsored by Overseas Families and Friends and was richly blessed by the people of India. Dorothy was also the author of Your Via Dolorosa (Latin for "way of sorrow") and Victory.

Dorothy's career in nursing spanned more than 30 years. She served as a staff nurse at the East Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis; as a staff nurse and recovery room nurse at Ellis Fischel State Cancer Hospital in Columbia, Missouri; as an intensive care nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona; as a surgical intensive care nurse at St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico; as a staff nurse on the surgical floor at Cox Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri; as a staff nurse on the surgical floor at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas; and as a staff nurse on the surgical floor at Medical Plaza Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. When she worked at St. Joseph's in Phoenix, intensive care nursing was a new frontier and Dorothy was on the forefront.

From 1982 until retirement in 1989, she worked as a staff nurse in nursing homes in Phoenix, Sun City and Sedona. Dorothy had a special place in her heart for people living in nursing homes and was an advocate for excellent resident and medical care. When she attended an annual National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform in Arlington, Virginia, she met Martha Mohler, a knowledgeable and dedicated advocate for improving conditions in the nation's nursing homes. Martha was Senior Policy Advisor for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in Washington, D.C. They remained good friends throughout the years.

The Verde Valley Senior Center Meals on Wheels program and Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition helped Dorothy remain independent in her beloved home at the Verde Valley Manor. Dorothy was especially appreciative of her health care providers, Dr. Devin Mikles, Dr. Kenneth Bescak and staff. Recent care provided by Hospice Compasses, Northern Arizona Hospice, Abrio and the Verde Valley Medical Center was also greatly appreciated. Dorothy enjoyed taking classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Yavapai College and made many friends there.

Requesting no services, Dorothy instead planned an informal open house in her home where her written material will be available to anyone who is interested, and the song The Impossible Dream will be played. The open house will be held on Saturday, Feb. 8 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at 3400 East Godard Road, Apt. 75A. Parking is located at Godard Hall.

Dorothy was preceded in death by her parents and siblings Fred, Don and Harriet Meckfessel. She is survived by several nieces and nephews, most of whom live in Missouri and Kansas. Special cards of condolence may be sent to Dorothy's lifelong friends, Bill and Mary Lou Scott of Florissant, MO; goddaughter Pamela and Steve Berra of Crestwood, MO; Nancy Czyzewski of Webster Groves, MO; Martha Mohler of Chevy Chase, MD; Dr. Devin Mikles of Sedona; Dr. Kenneth Bescak of Cottonwood, and Diane Joens of Cottonwood. Cards sent to 312 West Mesquite Drive, Cottonwood, AZ 86326, will be forwarded.

Memorials in Dorothy's memory may be made to the Verde Valley Senior Center's Meals on Wheels program. Meals on Wheels is a lifeline to seniors throughout the Verde Valley, helping them maintain their independence and enabling them to stay in their homes longer. This independence was very important to Dorothy. The mailing address of the Verde Valley Senior Center is P.O. Box 681, Cottonwood, AZ 86326. The Senior Center is located at 500 E. Cherry St. in Cottonwood.

Always the educator, Dorothy donated her body to the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Friends were important to Dorothy, who never married. She wrote "My love will live on in the wonderful friends who supported and loved me."

Researched and written by Diane Joens

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