Doris Warbington
Doris Warbington

Obituary of Doris Olson Warbington

Doris Olson Warbington died peacefully in Portland, Oregon, on April 17, 2019. She was 93.The family thanks her caregivers at Love 4 Care for their excellent and compassionate care as she was gradually taken by Alzheimer’s disease over the last several years. Doris Mae Olson was born in Spring Valley, Minnesota to Ralph and Lillian Olson. She was a real tom boy and would rather play outdoors with the boys.She roller-skated every weekend at the indoor rink with her sister Sally and enjoyed riding in the back of her dad’s pickup truck. She started high school in Spring Valley and finished in Minneapolis when the family moved during the war; she was a smart student. She attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, graduating in three years in 1947 with a BA in Romance Languages. She participated in music during her school years, continuing to play trumpet in the Luther Band. She taught at Luther briefly before heading to the University of Washington, Seattle, to complete an MA in Romance Languages in 1949. Dorie met Lee Warbington at the University of Washington and they married in 1951, settled in West Seattle, and welcomed four children: Michael, Claire, Ralph, and Ruth. In 1960 the family spent a year on the island of Kwajalein in the South Pacific – Dorie hated the bugs and heat and worried about her baby and kids, but the older children remember it as a wonderful time when they had the run of the island. They were active in First Lutheran Church of West Seattle, raising their children together with other families in a close-knit group that gathered together for hikes, parties, and beach weekends year after year. When her four children were in school Dorie resumed teaching with French classes at Holy Rosary girls’ High School.Dorie thrived there and maintained friendships for years with the girls, the teachers, and the administrators. Did she say she learned most of her swear words from the nuns?When the high school closed in the mid-1970’s, Dorie and Rosemary, one of the nuns teaching at Holy Rosary, created the Metropolitation Adult Education Team.They taught assertiveness and resume writing to many women, started the Lifetime Learning Center for seniors (which continues to this day), and worked with many churches, senior centers, and community centers to offer continuing education courses.Dorie and Rosemary also coordinated community outreach programs for the Domincan Sisters at Marymount, Tacoma.They protested nuclear weapons and the Bangor submarine base with the group Ground Zero; Dorie emceed a large rally at the Seattle Center (downing a pocket martini before she took the podium). She furthered her education with a Masters in Human Values from the San Francisco Theological Seminary and continued teaching at Shoreline Community College in North Seattle. She worked with the Women’s and Counseling center and taught courses on resume-writing, practical English grammar, and career exploration.She loved bringing speakers to the student union, organizing monthly movie nights, and demonstrating lefse-making at the winter holidays.She never wanted to retire and continued to be involved with the college until she was 80. Being around young people keeps you young, she said. Dorie had a fun, loving, and generous nature.She was intelligent, very passionate in her interests, and ….cool.She loved teaching: the faculty, the students, and putting on the show.She placed great value on education and encouraged it in everyone. She was a prolific cookie and bread baker and her children remember stirring up and eating so many sticky cinnamon rolls!She was very proud of her Norwegian heritage and sprinkled it around her homes.She loved shopping too, for the looking more than the buying. Cars were a continuing interest and she relished finding just the right used one for herself or a friend. She made acquaintances into friends with her warmth, generosity, and invitations.She threw lots of parties and shared lots of martinis. In the 90’s she fell in love with coffee, really strong coffee, and she shared a pot with everyone.She was a great letter-writer. Whenever she had a moment she would sit on her bed and write letters to friends and family.They were quite long, full of news clippings that had to be shared, and a bit of a challenge to decipher the handwriting. She was creative not only in her teaching but also in the many newsletters, brochures, logos, and custom Christmas cards she designed. The kids would help collate, fold, and stamp! She loved to travel and she and Lee took the whole family to Europe for three weeks in a masterpiece of cities, towns, trains, and hotels. She took several other trips to Europe and around the U.S., driving to Vancouver B.C. and San Francisco many times with friends and family.She made many visits to her parents and her sister and her family in Decorah.One visit was to receive a Lifetime Achievement award from Luther College for her work in adult education. She was proud to follow her mother who had received the award for her work at the Norwegian-American museum. Dorie was a motivated and driven person.She had confidence in her abilities and applied herself whole-heartedly to every thing she did.Mothering and homemaking did not come particularly naturally, but she put her heart into them. She was a warrior in the fight for women’s rights in the 70’s and 80’s, and probably her whole life; she was a natural for this struggle but the disapproval she felt came with it was painful. The freedom to be her own self was part of her and Lee’s divorce. They were both very independent but also loving and worked hard to raise their children together until all were launched on their own lives.They for the most part achieved an amicable divorce and continued to celebrate together with their children. She had seven grandchildren and adored them all -- babysitting when they were younger and involving them in her community programs when they were older. Dorie lived near Greenlake for almost 30 years.She loved her condo with a view of the lake, Mt. Rainer, and the top of the Seattle skyline. As always, she made new friends with neighbors and entertained guests and family frequently.She enjoyed attending the Seattle Symphony for many years, watching and reading mysteries, and knowing the best way around Seattle traffic.She bought a small vacation home near Allyn and enjoyed working outside and nesting indoors with friends and family for 20 years. The Goodwill was ever a favorite outing as she searched for the perfect little something for everyone she knew. She was robust in health but Alzheimer’s curtailed her social and self-determined life more and more over the last six years.It was not easy to give way to those changes and losses and the fighter in her never left. She loved friends and family and was much loved in return.She was a character. A Celebration of Life will be held at Phinney Neighborhood Center, Seattle, on June 20 at 1 pm.
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