Our beloved mother passed away peacefully surrounded by the love of her family on Monday, October 12, 2020 in Fayetteville, NC less than 3 weeks after her 89th birthday.
Mom was preceded in death by the love of her life, her husband Elmer Antonius Anderson III, and her parents, Ottwin Ludwig Braun and Marie Elizabeth Braun (Kuehn), and we celebrate their reunion in heaven.
She leaves behind the legacy of a large family – her children Karen Davidson (Earl), Leslie Anderson Lobaugh (Bruce), Eric Elmer Anderson (Tao Huang) and Jeffrey Ottwin Anderson (Noemi), along with grandchildren Jennifer Morris (Dennis), Ashley Davidson Hill (Darrius), Jessica Wrenn (Hunter), Trevor Lobaugh, Stephanie Marie Lobaugh, Ian Elmer Lobaugh, Grace Anderson, Amelia Smith (Daniel), Anthony Ottwin Anderson and Matthew Anderson, and 9 great-grandchildren.
Dorothy Jean Braun was born at home in the German community of Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh, PA. Although she was an only child, she grew up surrounded by a large family of aunts, uncles and cousins. Her grandparents immigrated to the US before the war, and though her grandfathers both died young, she was particularly close to her grandmothers – her maternal grandmother lived one block away and her paternal grandmother lived on the second floor of Dorothy’s childhood home.
Dorothy graduated with Honors from South Hills High School in February 1949; At the Commencement she sang The Green Cathedral in her beautiful soprano voice. She then attended Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) while living at home, where she majored in Home Economics, much to the future amusement of her children who knew firsthand that she relied on her mother and mother-in-law for expertise in cooking, baking, needlecraft and sewing. Her first job was as a reservation agent for Capitol Airlines, and she traveled to the office in downtown Pittsburgh from her home via Incline and trolley, and throughout the US via plane as an airline perk.
Dorothy met her future husband at a dance in Castle Shannon, when the handsome Elmer Anderson sent drinks to her table, much to the consternation of her date…. They were married on July 9, 1955 while Elmer was a private in the Army’s 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion stationed at Fort Belvoir, VA. After a one-night honeymoon in nearby Bedford Springs, the young couple moved into the 3rd floor of Dorothy’s parents’ home while Elmer finished his tour of duty.
Like many young wives in the 1950s, Dorothy had four children between the years of 1957 and 1963; however, unlike her peers, Dorothy was a pioneering career woman and worked as equal partner with her husband to build a successful engineering firm, Elmer A Anderson & Assoc, first in Castle Shannon and then in Mt Lebanon. Throughout their working life, Elmer handled the engineering and Dorothy handled the office administration. The growing family moved first to a home on Curry Rd in Baldwin Township, then to nearby Upper St Clair. Dorothy was an active member of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers and a lifelong member of the Eastern Star.
In 1980, with their children off to college, Dorothy and Elmer moved to Hilton Head, SC, where they continued to run a commercial real estate and engineering firm for many years. Unfortunately, Elmer was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1999, and died much too young at the age of 69 in Durham, NC on February 5, 2000. Three months later, Dorothy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her courage and resilience in dealing with the resulting surgery and treatment was an inspiration to her family and friends.
In 2001, Dorothy began a new phase of her life, and moved into Carolina Spring senior apartments in Carrboro, NC, near her younger daughter’s family. For the next 18 years, Dorothy led a social life that put her children to shame. At Carolina Spring she organized her friends in game and movie nights, donned Halloween costumes, decorated for and planned 4th of July celebrations, and organized the annual Christmas caroling. She headed the popular Carolina Café, a monthly Saturday morning breakfast where for a few dollars residents could socialize over a delicious breakfast (of hot food, coffee and baked goods donated by her committee), with all profits going to fill care packages sent to servicemen serving abroad. Throughout this time, she traveled thrice weekly to Durham for water aerobic classes at the Duke Center for Living (which she insisted on referring to as the “Center for The Living”).
During these years, Dorothy was also a wonderful Nana to her grandchildren – attending all birthday and holiday celebrations at the Lobaugh household, and uncomplainingly sitting through trumpet and guitar concerts and cheering at numerous hockey, volleyball and tennis matches. She kept in touch and spent time as she was able with her more geographically distant grandchildren, and developed a special relationship with the youngest grandchild, Gracie, born in 2011.
Throughout her life, Mom was an optimist. She handled life’s difficulties with strength and grace and an upbeat attitude. Always one to find a silver lining, she managed to blossom socially after our father’s death. She had many friends and truly enjoyed life. We rejoice that she is no longer trapped in a frail and failing body and is reunited with Dad, but the void she has left in our collective family heart can never be filled.
In the final year of her life, Mom often spoke of returning home to Pittsburgh. She will be laid to rest beside our father in Jefferson Memorial Cemetery on Curry Hollow Rd in Pittsburgh, PA, following an intimate graveside memorial service officiated by Rev Dr John Barker at 11:00 am on Saturday, October 17, 2020. A post-pandemic celebration of Mom’s life for family and friends will be held at her church, Trinity Avenue Presbyterian, in Durham, NC, next year.
In lieu of flowers, and if you are so moved, a contribution can be made in Mom’s name to the charity of your choice. She was particularly touched by wildlife/animal charities and veterans’ organizations.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dorothy Jean (Braun) Anderson, please visit our floral store.