Dorothey Hall "Kitty" DeGree
Dorothey Phillis Hall DeGree or as she insisted to all who met her, just "Kitty", passed from this community at 5:00 a.m. on October 25, 2012. She died in her home in West Monroe with her caregivers at her bedside. Kitty was born July 29, 1922 in South Sutton, New Hampshire to her mother Helen Crampton Hall and her father Richard Elmer Hall. She was one of 6 children, having 3 brothers and 2 sisters.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband Joseph Alex Napoleon (J.A.N.), and all her siblings. Her surviving family includes a nephew, Richard Hall, a niece Charlotte Lindsey as well as a sister in law, Esther Hall; all of Florida.
Left to mourn her passing and celebrate her life among us is her entire community family; those countless individuals, groups, programs and services who had the privilege and benefit of her devotion and commitment to N. E. Louisiana.
In WW II Kitty served in the United States Coast Guard as Yeoman First Class from 1942-1945, while her husband served in the Navy. For the remainder of her life she was a dedicated veteran, believing life in America is a privilege. She exhibited an unmistakable pride for her country and to all those who served. In her patriotism she dedicated much of her time and resources to veteran affairs and was instrumental in establishing the V.A. Clinic and the War Veteran's Home here in Monroe. She was also proud to be an affiliated contributor to the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum and personally funded the Selman Field memorial monument displayed at the Monroe Regional Airport.
She and her husband moved to Monroe in 1949 for what she thought would be a short period of time, with her husband coming for a job here in the local paper mill industry. She often said she never dreamed this "temporary" move would take them down a path to a lifelong home in a southern culture that seemed very foreign from their lives in New Hampshire and Vermont. She came to love the South and often said it was the people of this community that captured her heart as she claimed Ouachita Parish her home for life. Kitty was, until the 1970's, a housewife, working some just to keep occupied. In her early years in Monroe she worked as a secretary for Ford, Bacon and Davis and later as a bookkeeper, receptionist and assistant to a dentist in downtown Monroe. In the 70's she decided she wanted to start her own personal business and she often laughed as she told the story about how many banks she visited before finding one who would invest in her business plan without her husband' s signature. She said, "I wanted to prove myself as a business woman, be accountable to myself and I was willing to take the risk, finding a bank to take the risk with me was the hard part". The next 10 years she went quietly yet aggressively about the business of building DeGree Enterprises through real estate and property development. She often worked 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week bringing her vision to fruition. Soon the business community recognized her for the shrewd astute business woman she had become.
In her early years of success and hard work she made time for community work and made varied community donations, generally insisting on anonymity. Her first philanthropic endeavor was in 1984, when she contacted Northeast Louisiana University to donate her holdings of some 300 apartments that she helped the university sell to establish the N.E. Louisiana University Charitable Remainder Trust, the largest trust in the history of the school which established her as their most generous supporter. Her confidence in education as economic benefit for students and community alike led her to be instrumental in the development of Louisiana Delta Community College. For over 30 years she aligned herself with St. Francis Medical Center, working on many fronts to grow and improve healthcare for Northeast Louisiana.
Kitty had over 60 years of a broad and diverse engagement in services and programs she considered critical to the betterment of this community. Her interest in health, military, law enforcement, education, elderly, children, and families has established her presence for so many organizations it would be a disservice to try to name them all. No project or program was too large or too small if she believed it held community benefit. She was highly respected as both a business woman and entrepreneur and equally revered as philanthropist and volunteer. Many have referred to her as a Louisiana treasure, valued and admired not only for the millions of dollars she has contributed throughout N.E. Louisiana, but for her exemplary life of service over self.
Much appreciation to all those who cared for Kitty these last months of her life: Dr. Charles Morgan, Louisiana Home Care, and Louisiana Hospice of Monroe-Jennie Adams, R.N. Kitty was blessed with 3 very special caregivers and through their care; she remained happy and comfortable in her own home until her death. God bless these ladies…Janese Oglesbee, Trudy Barnes and Alma Hall….thank you for all your tenderness, devotion and prayerful love to her.
Her memorial will be held on Friday, November 2, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. at ULM Kitty DeGree School of Nursing in the St. Francis Medical Center Auditorium under the direction of Kilpatrick Funeral Home of West Monroe.
In lieu of flowers, please consider memorials to the Kitty DeGree Foundation, the ULM Foundation, the St. Francis Medical Foundation or the charity of your choice
as Kitty supported so many services and agencies throughout this community.
Online condolence messages may be left in Kitty's memory at www.kilpatrickfuneralhomes.com
Kilpatrick Funeral Home
West Monroe, LA