Dorothy Lucille McLaughlin of Niles, Michigan, mother, grandmother, 4-H Champion, Registered Nurse, and American Legion Auxiliary officer died peacefully at 8:25 a.m. on Sunday, February 13, 2022 at Spectrum Health Lakeland Hospital in Niles having completed a remarkable ninety-eight years.
She was born on December 18, 1923 in Niles to Harold L. and Mildred G. (Chamberlain) Neese, and graduated with the Niles High School class of 1942. She continued her education at Michigan State University as a State Champion 4-H Home Economics Scholar, and completed the Registered Nurse program at the former Mercy Hospital in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She joined the United States Cadet Nurse Corps and volunteered with the American Red Cross, helping to bring the first Red Cross Blood Bank to Berrien County during the early years of World War II. She was later employed as an RN at the former Silverbrook Manor in Niles (now The Chalet) for eighteen years.
Dorothy was a member of the Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Niles, a member and past president of the Ladies’ Auxiliary to the American Legion Post #26, and a member by invitation and past president of the Ladies’ Auxiliary to the 40 & 8 Honor Society for American Veterans. As a member of the Legion Auxiliary, she provided United States flags to area schools and scout troops, presented scholarship awards, and assisted with the Girls State summer leadership and citizenship camps for high school juniors. She was elected as the 1998 District President of the American Legion Auxiliary, and was a member of the organizing committee for the City of Niles Riverfront Park Veteran’s Memorial.
In her youth, Dorothy was a member of the Junior Farm Bureau and 4-H, winning a state championship for a clothing project and state runner-up for a food canning project. She continued to practice canning throughout her life, and enjoyed hosting family gatherings at her home. Holidays always included the fragrance of something roasting in the oven, and a variety of pies for dessert, but the favorite was her rhubarb pie, made with the produce of her backyard garden.
On August 27, 1949 in Niles she married John H. McLaughlin. Like Dorothy, John was dedicated to honoring those who have served in the military, and she assisted John as he represented the American Legion at area veterans’ funerals, presenting hundreds of interment flags over several decades. She and John celebrated the remarkable Fifty-fourth anniversary of their wedding prior to his death on May 22, 2004. She was also preceded in death by a daughter, Kathleen Ann Mansfield on October 1, 2019, by an infant grandson, John Henry Dockery on July 24, 1987, by a 16-month-old great-grandson, K.C. John Davis on April 5, 1996, and by Dorothy's brother, Walter N. Neese on March 14, 2016.
Surviving family includes her daughter, Patricia Marie Dockery of Niles; son-in-law, Gary Mansfield; grandchildren William McGill, Anne (& Kevin) Davis, Damian (& Ashley) Dockery, and Peggy (& Brian) Paturalski; great-grandchildren Ashley McGill, Taylor Davis, Tanner Davis, Gavin Dockery, Liam Dockery, Allison Paturalski, and Olin Paturalski; great-great-grandchildren Caden Martin, Malaki Coyne, and Ayla Aldrich; and many nieces and nephews.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Dorothy McLaughlin will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 19, 2022 at Saint Mary Catholic Church, 203 South Lincoln Avenue in Niles by the Rev. Christian Johnston, assisted by Deacon Roger Gregorski. Committal Rites will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Niles. The service will be available livestreamed on the Halbritter-Wickens Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/halbritterwickensfuneralservices/.
The family will receive relatives and friends on Saturday at the church beginning at 10:00 a.m. Contributions in memory of Dorothy may be made to Saint Mary’s School, 217 South Lincoln Avenue, Niles, Michigan, 49120, https://stmarysschoolniles.org/; or to the Niles Riverfront Veterans Memorial, c/o City Hall, 333 North Second Street, Niles, Michigan, 49120, http://cms3files.revize.com/niles/document_center/Forms/Department%20of%20Public%20Works/BuyABrickForm16.pdf. Arrangements were completed at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles. Online condolences may be left at:
Ninety-eight years is remarkable, and all the moreso by the manner in which Dorothy used those years. She was an outstanding 4-H student, cared for her community through the Red Cross, cared for the elderly at the nursing home, and clearly sought to serve those who have served in the military. She was a devout Catholic, and made time to love her husband and their family. All evidence of Dorothy answering the command to Love God and Love People.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dorothy McLaughlin, please visit our floral store.
Niles Riverfront Veteran's Memorial
c/o Niles City Hall, 333 North Second Street, Niles MI 49120
Saint Mary Catholic School
217 South Lincoln Avenue, Niles MI 49120