Where do you want to fly?
Editor’s note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs “A Life Remembered.” Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today’s “A Life Remembered” is about Dorothy “Dot” Martin Waters, who died Feb. 5 at the age of 90. Her obituary was published in the Feb. 7 edition of The Herald-Mail.
Dorothy “Dot” Waters was a true patriot, through and through. From her July 4th birthday to her love of politics and the election process, it’s no surprise she worked for the Washington County Board of Elections for 30 years.
She worked her way up the ranks, from registrar to clerk to office manager to administrator.
“She was the only person I know who loved to get up and go to work,” said niece Kaye Robucci of Hagerstown.
Dot loved promoting voter registration and assisting and getting to know the candidates when they came in to file paperwork. She relished talking to the media.
A founding member of the Maryland Association of Election Officials, dating back to 1964, one of Dot’s favorite sayings reflected her love for the process.
“Vote early and often,” Kaye recalls hearing regularly.
Dot herself never missed voting. When they were younger, the nieces didn’t know what Aunt Dot did, but knew it was important because she was in the newspaper a lot.
“As we got older, she quizzed us about voting,” Kaye said.
Some of the memorable changes to the system during Dot’s tenure include the right of 18-year-olds to vote in 1971 and the implementation of a statewide computer system in Maryland in 1986.
A big pet peeve of Dot’s was registered voters who didn’t exercise their right to vote.
“Anyone we dated, she’d ask if they were registered to vote,” said Kaye, and more importantly, if they were registered Republicans.
When Dot retired in 1991, she encouraged Kaye to apply for the job. Kaye was hired as a registrar and worked her way up to her current position as election director.
The oldest of three daughters, Dot and her sisters grew up influenced by the views of their father Lester Martin, who was “a very staunch Republican,” Kaye said.
He was a school bus driver and a contractor and helped build the Downsville Christian Church across the street from the Martin’s home. Dot’s mother was a school teacher early on.
A member of the Williamsport High School Class of 1946, Dot graduated from Columbia Business College in Hagerstown. She got married, but the marriage ended in divorce and she didn’t have children.
“The nieces were her children,” said niece Kendra Sommerfeld of Greencastle, Pa.
Carolyn Baer was the middle sister and mother of four of Dot’s five nieces. She died in 2000 at age 66, and Aunt Dot helped fill the void, not only for Carolyn’s daughters, but also for the next generation who saw her as a grandmother.
‘She was so much fun’
“We spent a lot of time with Aunt Dot, because she was so much fun. She was the definition of fun,” Kaye said.
Dot was also very close to her cousins who lived in Downsville.
Kendra’s husband Dennis Sommerfeld said the “3 F’s” described what was important to Dot: fun, food, fellowship.
“She loved going to work, loved people, loved to travel, play cards, play games. I don’t know that she ever sat around. She was always doing something,” Kaye said.
Dot lived next door to her parents in a house that her father helped build.
She was always actively involved with family holiday celebrations, from New Year’s Day pork and sauerkraut to helping hide Easter eggs to celebrating summer birthdays, among others.
There were Christmas parties in her Downsville basement and when Christmas celebrations were elsewhere, Aunt Dot showed up with her car trunk full of gifts. Her Christmas menu included country ham, a tree-shaped cheese ball rolled in parsley, lace cookies and plenty of games.
In 1984, Dot moved to a condominium at Woodcrest Village off of West Wilson Boulevard, which was home for 20 years.
“We had some great parties at Woodcrest,” said Kaye, adding that Dot was a wonderful cook and loved to entertain.
Dot’s macaroni and cheese was legendary, Kendra said. If Dot showed up at a party without her famous dish, she was in trouble, Dennis added.
After Woodcrest, Dot moved in with her youngest sister Mary Lou Black for four years, then to assisted living at Ravenwood in 2008, where she had 10 good years.
“She always had her mind. She was always involved with activities in assisted living and the nursing home — porch parties, art classes and Bingo, church services, concerts and Bible study,” Kendra said.
Hitting the road
Dot also liked taking the fun on the road. After retiring, she celebrated with an Alaskan cruise, which was the highlight of her travels.
She went on a lot of bus trips, to dinner theaters, on mystery trips and to Totem Pole Playhouse. Dot also traveled to stay connected.
“She always said ‘If you don’t want me, don’t invite me’,” Kaye said.
Whether at home or on the road, Dot made sure her outfits were color-coordinated, complete with clip-on earrings, and her hair and nails done, always ready for company.
A fall on Dec. 16, 2018, landed Dot at Meritus Medical Center, and several days later she had a stroke.
Right before Christmas, Dot was transferred to Ravenwood Nursing Home, where she spent the next three weeks working hard and fighting to get her strength back.
Try as she might, she never regained the strength in her legs, but her sense of humor and positive attitude remained intact. She lived to hear of the birth of a great-great-niece.
Kaye said her aunt’s faith was very strong and she had planned everything for her celebration of life ahead of time, down to the Leiter’s fried chicken for the meal.
Niece Krista Campbell of Stewartstown, Pa., said Aunt Dot was “ready to get the party started, Heaven-style.”
“We know she’s in heaven with Jesus Christ. She made that decision a long time ago and that we’ll see her again,” Kaye said.
Kendra added, “She did not live in any regrets of the past or the what-ifs of the future. She lived in the present, always ready for the next party or family get-together. She squeezed every drop out of her full life.”