Bernice Kavanagh Doolittle Dolph
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Bernice Kavanagh Doolittle Dolph

December 30, 1921 - May 12, 2020

Bernice had many names during her long life: daughter, sister, wife, Auntie B, Mom, stepmom, Grandma, and finally GG. She was a lifelong Seattle native born on Queen Anne Hill in 1921 to William and Anne Kavanagh. The Kavanaghs-Bill, Anne, and Bernice, along with Bernice's sisters Chrystelle and Lois-moved to Ballard in the mid-twenties where Bernice graduated from Ballard High School in 1940.

In 1942, Bernice married Orville Doolittle, a U.S. Marine. The newlyweds moved to San Diego because Orville was stationed at Camp Pendleton. Following the end of WWII, Bernice and Orville moved back to Seattle where she worked for several years as a secretary for the Seattle Rainiers Baseball Club at Sick's Stadium and later for the Ironworkers Local 86 at the Labor Temple in Downtown Seattle.

In the 1950s, the couple often worked seasonally in the territory of Alaska, living in both Anchorage and Fairbanks. They liked to travel and drove to Alaska from Seattle on the old Alaska Highway or camped on the deck of the ferry. They often traveled to the territory of Hawaii to visit Bernice's parents, sister Lois, and Lois' children who were in Honolulu. In the late 1950s, the couple permanently moved back to Seattle, and with a desire to start a family, Bernice and Orville adopted their daughter, Tina, in 1958. The following year, they adopted their son Jeff.

Bernice had a passion for ceramics and china painting. She used the time as a new mother to become an expert in her craft, creating beautiful porcelain figurines, porcelain lace dolls, and numerous works of art that her family treasures to this day. Bernice loved Barbie dolls and sewing, and she made doll clothes for many years. One Christmas, she and her Dad built two fine-crafted and intricately decorated Barbie doll houses for her daughter Tina and her niece Melody.

Bernice continued to travel with her two children. Every summer she loaded up the car and took the kids on road adventures. They often ended up in Priest River, Idaho, where Orville was born and raised and had a large family. They also traveled to Yellowstone and many other National Parks.

Bernice loved dogs, especially poodles. She had Topper and Scorchy, Paige and Shorty, followed by Sparky, Tangie, Bridget, and finally Mitzy. Bernice missed having her own dog the last two years; however, she enjoyed daily visits from her daughter's dogs, Leschi and Skagit, who entertained her with wet kisses and often tried to snuggle in her lap despite their large sizes. Bernice always had dog treats in her pockets ready to share with them.

From 1970 until she retired, Bernice worked for the Ironworkers Local 86. It was at this time that she married her second husband, Bill Dolph. Together the two of them traveled the world. They climbed the pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China; explored England, Italy, the Holy Lands, Kenya, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Fiji, and Thailand; and spent her 70th birthday in a sleeping bag and tent in Kathmandu, Nepal! One of her greatest adventures was visiting the beautiful Taj Mahal in India. In her latter years, she spoke dreamily about the one adventure she was unable to take - to travel by riverboat up the Amazon River! She wallpapered an entire wall in her house with a world map, marking where she traveled with pins, and graciously instilled a love of travel, adventure, and appreciation for other cultures to those close to her.

Bernice loved computers and-as one of the oldest students in the class-took countless computer classes at the community college. She used computers for the rest of her life and was known for designing colorful cards for her family and friends using clipart.

Bernice enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, and great grandchildren who called her GG (Great Grandma). She loved to attend their birthday parties and host fun holiday parties. Bernice delighted in making balloon animals for the kids and taught them how to pour and paint their own ceramics.

Bernice had many close friends in a ceramics group who met once a week for decades. As she grew older, her eyesight made it harder for her to paint fine details on her porcelain figurines that she had continued to make all these years. She became an avid collector of Lladro and, like a little kid, was thrilled when each new piece arrived. She especially enjoyed purchasing broken figurines and putting them back together, which became a fun hobby that kept her busy for many hours. The last few years, she took great joy in giving all her Lladro away to friends, such as her dear friend June who lived next to her at the Chateau Assisted Living in Bothell, as well as many family members.

Bernice was preceded in death by her parents William and Anne; her sisters Chrystelle (Lee) and Lois (Mel); her two husbands Orville and Bill; her cousin Shirley; her niece Melody; and numerous friends. She is survived by her daughter Tina (Charlie) and son Jeff; granddaughters April, Kerry (Nate), and Alise (Kyle); eight great grandchildren Molly, Bridget, Gracie, Aela, Willow, Nolan, Finn, and Jameson, with two more great grandchildren on the way.

Bernice will always be remembered as loving, generous, and patient. She enriched the lives of all those around her. She will be greatly missed.

In the end, she essentially wrote her own obituary;

"I have lived a wonderful life and been blessed with three children (Jeff, Tina and Charlie) and am ready to see what is next. I was so lucky to have many friends and relatives. I loved them all." - Bernice Kavanagh Dolph

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Published in The Seattle Times on May 17, 2020.
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11 entries
May 22, 2020
I couldn't have asked for a better mother-in-law, it took me awhile to figure it out. After my mom died you took over. You were the best listener and you gave me great advice. You shared so many stories and life events with me. I will always miss you. I love you.
Janie Dolph
May 18, 2020
Someone as special as Bernice can never be forgotten, may her soul rest in peace.
Steve and Bob Kane
May 17, 2020
Bernice was a very special and lovely neighbor. We had such interesting conversations about her life and mine as we shared a love of travel. She was a peaceful. kindhearted, and intelligent woman and will be missed more than I can say.
Our sympathy to Tina, Jeff, and all the family.
Janette Lemme
May 17, 2020
God bless and keep.

John Kane
May 17, 2020
God Bless and keep you in eternity, my dear Aunt
May 17, 2020
You were a wonderful mother! You loved me every day of my life.
You will be remembered as always having love for all, kindness for everyone, always being generous and always patient. Our lives would not have been the same without you!
Thank you for making my life wonderful!
I'll love you forever -
Tina Mulcahy
May 17, 2020
Bernice Kavanagh
May 17, 2020
Artwork from the great grandchildren.
Tina Mulcahy
May 17, 2020
A visit from Leschi.
Tina Mulcahy
May 17, 2020
Happy 98th Birthday!
Tina Mulcahy
May 17, 2020
Grandma giving treats to Leschi and Skagit
Dear Grandma;
We loved you so much! We had such fun getting to come and visit you each day. You always made us feel happy and loved. We will miss all the times spent laying at your feet, stretching out on your bed, trying to sit on your lap, and of course all the treats!
We will always miss you!
Leschi and Skagit
Leschi & Skagit Mulcahy
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