Dorothy Oyler "Dottie" Illig
1943 - 2020
November 20, 2020
Dorothy "Dottie" Oyler Illig

July 27, 1943 - November 20, 2020

Dorothy "Dottie" Oyler Illig, 77, passed away Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, after a hard-fought battle with COVID-19.

Born July 27, 1943, in Louisville, Ky., she was the daughter of the late Richard J. Oyler and Nellie Gray Veach Oyler. She is survived by her loving husband of 53 years, Dean B. Illig of the home; daughters, Gretchen Illig McGregor and husband, Andy, and Kathryn Illig Herman and husband, Dixon; brother, R. Wally Oyler and wife, Nancy; sister-in-law, Eve Illig Ardia; and grandchildren, Caroline F. McGregor and J. Boone Herman, who were the light of their Nana's life. She was also survived by "Uncle" Michael N. Harreld and wife, Susan; and a number of nieces and nephews.

Dottie was a graduate of Western Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education. She graduated in May 1965, and married Dean July 8, 1967. From there, she started her life-long passion of teaching children. First, teaching in Kentucky, and then after relocating to Hickory in 1973, she began teaching locally at Startown Elementary. From there, she spent the final 27 years of her career at St. Stephens Lutheran School. She was dearly loved by her many students, and touched all with her legacy of kindness. She took great joy in seeing her former students grow into adults, and re-connecting with them around town. She was very pleased to learn that some former students were providing for her care at the hospital. As one former colleague shared with the family, "She was every child's honorary grandmother; more like a member of the family than a teacher, and students respected her like no other."

She was an active member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church for many years and vigorously supported various community service organizations through her regular purchases of knickknacks, whatnots and trinkets from their thrift stores. A true "picker" before it was cool, she was unwilling to pass a great bargain, and never afraid to haggle over the price of anything. Dottie never needed to buy a new widget in the box if a slightly damaged, off color, display model was available. Her picking searches were driven by a love of old, unique things, antiques, and local, hand thrown pottery.

When not at the stores, Dottie could be found working in her yard and garden. A certified master gardener, Miss Dottie could grow flowers on asphalt. Over her life-time, the family moved several times within the community, and each time, she would transform the grounds by adding beautiful beds of vibrant flowers and ornamental plants. She loved to rescue untended flowers and plants from vacant lots, old home places and other out of the way sites, and relocate them to places where they could receive the attention they deserved. Anytime her gardens became overgrown, she loved to share her plants with others who would enjoy them.

The family plans a private service, followed by a celebration of Dottie's life for friends in the community at a time to be determined in 2021.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Cooperative Christian Ministry, Safe Harbor, Hospice (Carolina Caring) or the local charity of your choice.

To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Hickory Daily Record from Nov. 22 to Nov. 24, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Funeral services provided by:
Bass-Smith Funeral Home and Crematory
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28 Entries
Dottie Iilig was a rare person. She could make any day brighter and any burden lighter. Dottie taught two of my three children, but all of them treasured knowing her. I feel honored to have called her my friend. Our condolences to the Iilig family.
Andria Cooke and family
December 3, 2020
I was so sorry to hear about Mrs. Illigs passing. She was one of my favorite teachers over 20 years ago at SSLS. My thoughts and prayers go to her family.
Amber DeHart Sherrill
November 30, 2020
Dean, Gretchen & Kathryn We are so sorry for your loss. We were blessed to have your family as friends & neighbors.
Patricia & Russ Fox
November 29, 2020
We are sorry for your loss. Thinking of your family.
Steve & Lisa Morgan
November 28, 2020
So sorry for your loss. Dottie was a great teacher and lovely Lady. My Son has fond memories of her as his 1st grade teacher. Sending love and prayers up for Dottie.
Susie Laws Sigmon
November 28, 2020
I'm sure your family has heard a similar version, of the following, many times. I was blessed to work with Dottie for 7 yrs... what a first class lady on so many levels. I'm sure there are many of us that she mentored without even knowing it. My mother has the same loving and kind presence so I was instantly drawn to her... but who wouldn't be? She was so genuine, gracious and just down right precious! Our children were among the many students to have been forever touched by her gentle spirit. We always felt like we were leaving our children with a loving, oh so wise, grandmother everyday that they were blessed to be with her. I lovingly dubbed her and Gail Colley, Mother Hubbard and Mother Goose, to which they would smile and laugh... There is much heartfelt sympathy for your family in our community and many prayers for peace being lifted. Until you see your sweet wife, mom and grandmother again, cherish your memories and know that she is in the most perfect garden and, I'm sure, surrounded by children. Love in Christ ...the Cloningers
Kelly Cloninger
November 27, 2020
Dottie was a formative figure in my childhood years - a wonderful neighbor, and my favorite (first grade) teacher. 28 years later, I still share life lessons I learned from her with those I meet. My deepest condolences for her family, and all those who are feeling her loss.
Laurel Crosby
November 25, 2020
I am so sorry to hear that Mrs. Illig has passed. She taught me first grade at SSLS, and I still remember being in her classroom. She was a marvelous teacher.
Hannah Alms
November 25, 2020
We met this lovely lady at the wedding of Kathryn and Dixon. She was a true southern belle. Our prayers are with the family. We know that she is with her Lord and is in the heavenly garden.
Ken and Maria Yount
November 24, 2020
Just absolutely loved Ms. Illig. I would drop my kids off in her classroom at SSLS and we would have the best talks. He was a great teacher but a better person. I will really miss her but I have very fond memories and she will not be forgotten.
Dean Cline
November 24, 2020
We we so sorry to hear about Dorothy passing away. She was always a kind and gentle person. She will be missed by many who knew her
Alan and Patricia Wilfong Anton
November 24, 2020
My heart goes out to Dean, Gretchen, Kathryn and all of Dottie´s loved ones. My memories of her are full of her graciousness, welcoming spirit and of course her smile that would warm anyone that she met.
Karen H Young
November 24, 2020
Myself and my daughter Sarah are devastated to hear this news. Dottie really was my mentor, the quintessential southern lady. She taught me so much of gardening and cooking. The Kentucky Derby parties happened because of her! We were happy to add a little lite gambling into that party. My late husband, Jim and I were lucky to get to know Dean and Dottie, Gretchen and Kathryn because of their connection to Kentucky and I will remain eternally grateful. To Dean, Gretchen and Kathryn, I am so sorry. I know you will miss her. My prayers are with you. I am crying, my heart is broken.
Beth Gaither
November 23, 2020
Sending the Illig family prayers at this difficult time. Dottie taught both of my children at SSLS. She was a wonderful and caring teacher.
Kelley Hurley
November 23, 2020
Ms. Illig was such a precious lady and teacher! We loved her! We extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to her family.
Tim and Ronda Reid
November 23, 2020
I will miss Dottie terribly. We shared many good times in our Garden Club, along with our love of British tea and desserts. She will definitely leave a hole in my heart.
Lesa Joiner
November 23, 2020
Our love to you Dean, Gretchen and Kathryn. We are heartbroken.
Elmon and Pam Dale
November 23, 2020
Our family LOVES Mrs. Illig. She taught and loved on our three children, and her presence in their lives will forever be felt. She was such an amazing teacher and we will miss her deeply. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends. I know she is wearing her cute Birkenstock shoes in Heaven!
Paige Cline
November 23, 2020
So sorry for your loss. Dottie will be missed. Sending prayers for your family.
Donna Shipman
November 23, 2020
We are heartbroken to lose Dottie--a wonderful friend and neighbor. From the moment we moved here 46 years ago Dottie and Dean reached out and we enjoyed many wonderful times together. We will cherish the memories and send love and prayers to her family.
Sue Nell, Don and Carson Fuller
November 23, 2020
Dottie was our neighbor and our dear friend, as is her husband, Dean. She will be missed but we will remember her fondly....
Bob Henning
November 22, 2020
Carol Sparks
November 22, 2020
My mentor My friend My Hero. Rest in ever lasting peace Dottie. I love you
November 22, 2020
Dottie was a wonderful lady and friend. I will always cherish my memories of her.
Ann amann
November 22, 2020
So sorry to hear this. Prayers and comfort for all.
Marsha Burchfield
November 22, 2020
Gail Baxter
November 22, 2020
Dottie was a friend amongst friends and in her presence one felt her love and light that she shared limitlessly, and one knew that she cared. She never met a stranger. She was loved and will be missed, we were honored to be in her circle of life and light. We offer love and sympathy to those that cherish her memory. sincerely, Phillip and Venus
November 22, 2020
We love Mrs Illig! She taught all four of our children at SSLS. Our heartfelt sympathy to your family! -Bryan and Elyse Neuwirth
Elyse Neuwirth
November 22, 2020