DURHAM - Dorothy Sullivan Willett, 79, of Durham, devoted and beloved wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend and philanthropist, died peacefully on Thursday, July 4, 2013, after a long illness. Dorothy joins her husband of 56 years, the late Leo V. Willett Jr. MD.
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Dorothy is survived by her sister, Phyllis S. McDonald Morgan, of Marshfield, Mass.; her four children, Leo V. Willett IV, of Seminole, Fla., Jenny Willett Hedderman, of Ipswich, Mass., David S. Willett, of Westbrook and Francis S. Willett, of Durham; and six grandchildren, Mallory Willett, Leo Willett V, Michaela Hedderman, Sean Hedderman, Logan Willett and Aidan Willett. Along with her husband, Dorothy was predeceased in death by her parents, Francis Sullivan and Phyllis Grovesnor Sullivan, of Boston, Mass.; and her sister, Mary Sullivan Welch, of Dedham, Mass.
Dorothy was born in South Boston, Mass., graduated from Nazareth High School and received a bachelor of arts from Emmanuel College. Dorothy taught in the Boston schools prior to her marriage and completed a Masters in Library Science from Glassboro State College, and established the first K to 8 school library at St. Margaret's School in New Jersey. Dorothy was Durham Public Library Building Chairman from 1978 to 1985 responsible renovations of the Durham Public Library and on-line access to the internet and research materials across the country. Dorothy was as a long term officer and president of the Durham Garden Club countless committees and Boards including the Middletown YMCA Women's Board supporting fundraisers including the Designer Showcase. Dorothy was a tireless philanthropist and along with her husband Leo, sponsored numerous scholarships including the establishment of the Coginchaug Regional High School Scholarship Committee, the Scholarship Ball and the Scholarship Booth at the historic Durham Fair renowned for its chocolate covered bananas, resulting in thousands of dollars of scholarships to graduating seniors. Dorothy loved her rose garden, entertaining, antiques, artwork, travelling worldwide and reading.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Wednesday, July 10, at 10 a.m. at the Notre Dame Church, 272 Main St., Durham.
Burial will follow in Mica Hill Cemetery and a gathering in the lower level meeting room at the Durham Public Library. Friends may call on Tuesday, July 9, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Doolittle Funeral Home, 14 Old Church St., Middletown. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made in Dorothy Willett's name to her beloved Durham Public Library, 6 Maple Ave., Durham, CT 06422 or the Durham Garden Club, P.O. Box 105, Durham, CT 06422. Messages of condolence may be sent to the family at
Doolittle Funeral Service
14 Old Church Street
Middletown, CT 06457
Published in The Record-Journal on July 6, 2013