Cover photo for Dorothy  Fern Lessard's Obituary
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1928 Dorothy 2021

Dorothy Fern Lessard

May 10, 1928 — June 6, 2021


Dorothy Fern Lessard, 93, of Longview, passed away June 6, 2021, at the Hospice Care Center. She was born May 10, 1928, in Grand Forks, ND, to Robert and Iva Peterson and was one of eight children.

In 1946 at age 18, Dorothy married Robert “Bob” Lessard, after which they moved to the Longview-Kelso area on their honeymoon. Bob and Dorothy met in Grand Forks while he was on a furlough from the U. S. Navy and immediately struck up a loving relationship. They promised to write each other every day until he returned after World War II. Upon his discharge, he secured a job in Kelso and then returned to North Dakota to marry Dorothy. During their 31-year marriage, they raised four children prior to Bob’s sudden death in 1977. Subsequently, she was married to Hector Boudreau and then to Gordon Wanamaker prior to each of their deaths.

As a young girl growing up when money was tight, she realized she could help with family finances by selling garden vegetables; so she would load up her little wagon and go door-to-door to sell produce to the neighbors. She later worked alongside her mother on an assembly line at a potato factory in Grand Forks. Dorothy retired from Montgomery Ward here in Longview, after a 22-year career as manager of the Lingerie Department; and to keep herself active in later years, she worked as a childcare provider.

A love of music spanned Dorothy’s entire life--from singing and playing her guitar on Radio Station KFJM in Grand Forks at age 11, to playing various other instruments, including the violin, accordion, and organ. On one occasion at age 12, while dressed in full cowboy regalia, Dorothy sang hillbilly songs and played her guitar at an A.O.U.W. fraternal organization meeting in Grand Forks. Later in life, she became proficient in playing the accordion and was invited to join an accordion band of 22 southwest Washington musicians, performing in a 1953 benefit concert in Longview for the Seattle Children’s Orthopedic Hospital. Dorothy’s family has fond memories of Christmas carol sing-a-longs, as she played her home organ. They also vividly remember her endless playing of “Alley Cat” and swore that no one could play it better than she.

Dorothy leaves behind plenty of beautiful, tender, and humorous memories. She was immensely proud and appreciative of her family and always looked forward to each time the entire group of 30+ would gather for celebrations in her living room or patio on 24th Avenue. She felt fortunate to have lived there for 61+ years, until health issues developed in February 2021 and necessitated a move to Somerset Assisted Living.

Survivors include her three children: Shirley Phelps, Carolyn (Terry) Peck, and James “Vern” Lessard, all of Longview. She is also survived by a sister, Mabel Machart of Grand Forks, ND; five grandchildren; thirteen great-grandchildren; five great-great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; as well as many blended Boudreau and Wanamaker family members--in particular, a special step-daughter Cherlyn Johnson. In addition to her husband and parents, Dorothy was preceded in death by a loving son Gerald Lessard; a son-in-law James “Butch” Phelps; three sisters Emma Norton, Arlene Huber, and Clara Nagle; and three brothers Carl Peterson, Robert Peterson, Jr., and Donald Peterson (Dorothy’s fraternal twin).

A few nights before her passing, a caregiver from Somerset relayed the story to Dorothy’s daughters that for the past two weeks, their mom had been “seeing” a little boy sitting in the corner of her room. The family is confident that the little boy she was “seeing” was their mom’s twin brother Donny who died at 7 months of age and that he was, in fact, watching over her.

The family is grateful for the exceptional care Dorothy received both at Somerset Assisted Living and Community Home Hospice. A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 30, in the Steele Chapel at Longview Memorial Park. Memorial contributions can be made to Community Home Hospice (1035 – 11th Avenue, Longview WA 98632).

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dorothy Fern Lessard, please visit our flower store.


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