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.www.bass-smithfuneralhome.com
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Published by Hickory Daily Record from Nov. 22 to Nov. 24, 2020.