Dorothy Lee (Ross) March
died on March 17, 2022 at the Mari de Villa retirement center in St. Louis. She was 92 years old, and had lived most of her 92 years in Cape Girardeau.
Dorothy was the fourth (and youngest by ten years) child of Elza Lee Ross and Ethel Stevens (Dodson) Ross, born May 29, 1929 on the Ross family farm in Cape Girardeau. For 66 years, she was the loving wife of Dr. Bryce D. March, long-time professor and administrator at Southeast Missouri State, who died in 2016. She leaves behind three children, Merri (Mark) Abels of St. Louis, Melissa (Stephen) Gallant of Atlanta and Stephen (Jennifer Haman) March of St. Louis, as well as seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Dorothy was a farm girl growing up, always busy gathering eggs, churning butter, loading the hay wagon and doing other farm chores. She attended the old Kage school, a one-room elementary school that was a hop, skip and jump from the Ross farmhouse. At College High School, she discovered her love and talent for writing. After graduation she turned that talent into a livelihood, first as a writer and reporter for the Cape News newspaper, and then at KFVS. She was the “Story Lady” every afternoon on KFVS radio, and she helped put KFVS-TV on the air in the 1950’s.
Dorothy and Bryce married in 1950 and it wasn’t long before the Ross farm became the March homestead. The still-newlyweds bought a small corner of the farm on Kage Road from Dorothy’s parents and built the first of two houses (both designed by Dorothy). First came a small redwood house to get the family started. When the arrival of three children demanded more bedrooms, bathrooms and closets, there followed a larger ranch house with a backyard swimming pool. Decades later the pool would be the focal point of Camp Gran, when the grandchildren would all come from St. Louis to spend a summer week with their Gran and Pa.
Dorothy lived most of her long life within sight of her birthplace, but that didn’t mean that the Marches were stay-at-homes. Her life was full of happy memories of summertime travels, including road trips to the west coast to visit family and summer residencies with Bryce on his Naval Reserve assignments and visiting professorships. The Marches tracked their travels on a wall map in the basement of the Kage Road house; eventually, they recorded visits to all 50 states and 20 countries.
Dorothy led a life of devotion to the three “F’s” – family, friends and faith. The joy of her life was her family (Mom the teacher, Mom the organizer, Mom the gardener, Mom the Girl Scout leader). The treasures of her life were her dear friends (especially her “bridge club” pals Hannah and Finley Maddox, Mary and George Peters, Hertha and Joe Russell and Eloise and Bill Terry). The foundation of her life was her faith. Dorothy was a lifelong and very active member of Centenary United Methodist Church, which she served in many leadership positions. She was a long-time Sunday school teacher, a former president of United Methodist Women and the first woman to chair the church’s Administrative Council. She frequently was called upon to represent her church and community in regional and state leadership posts.
Thirty years ago, Dorothy wrote a brief memoir of her life, which was bound into a hardback cover to share with her children and grandchildren. In the last line of the book, she prays that “Perhaps some day God will find it possible to look back on my life and say, ‘Well done, willing servant.’” That day surely arrived on March 17th.
Services: Dorothy was buried alongside Bryce at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in a private ceremony. A memorial service will be held at Centenary United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 25th. The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the LifeWise St. Louis Scholarship Fund, 1321 South 11th St., St. Louis, MO 63104, or to a charity of the donor’s choosing.