Dorothy's Story

NEW LIMERICK - Dorothy Marion Darnstaedt Burnham died May 26 in Houlton. She was born January 16, 1931 in Middletown, CT to Helois A. Gilbert and Clemens G. Darnstaedt. Her husband Bruce died in 2011.

Dot loved music and dogs, her red farm house, history, archaeology, literature, and her children. She played the harp and piano and had a beautiful singing voice. As a young woman, she considered a career as a nightclub singer. She loved discussing books and religion, endlessly fascinated by the hows and whys of the human condition. Dot was a staunch atheist - a progressive and liberal person who believed that every person deserves a chance. She could crack a crossword puzzle in minutes and was perfectly content curled into her chair, Paco on her lap, while winter storms raged. She enjoyed mah-jongg, her book group, and volunteering at Cary Library after working there for many years. Dot also worked in Houlton as a nurse's aid, sang in Community Chorus, supported the Humane Society, took part in a writing group and studied medieval history through the UM Extension Office. She founded Pony Club and 4-H groups and cheerfully ferried kids and horses from Dover Foxcroft to Nova Scotia in an old truck and a homemade horse trailer.

She raised her children in a series of tiny trailers in the desert, in an unheated farmhouse in Vermont, and in the relative luxury of the Bahamas; though her favorite place on Earth was her farm house in New Limerick. Dot was delighted with the varied paths chosen by her offspring, their accomplishments and adventures. She was proud of their individuality and achievements. A posting in Italy? Medical school? Teaching in Guam? To Dot it was all great fun. She found happiness in nonconformity. She taught us this: do what seems fun. Life was a great adventure for Dorothy. She had the gifts of contentment and forgiveness and a child-like enthusiasm, which she never lost.

She leaves five children, their spouses, 9 grandchildren (another on the way), 4 great-grandchildren and many dear friends. To honor Dot, donations to Cary Library and the Houlton Humane Society would be appreciated. A celebration of her life will be held June 27, the details of which will be announced later.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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