They came, those that could. One more time they came to sit under the giant oak that adorned the home of Dorothy Mitchell. It was a spot they had gathered before on numerous occasions to visit with friends and family, to hold reunions and more importantly to hand down history to the next generations of their heritage. Only this time, it wasn’t the smiling, red-haired woman we all knew as “Dot” tossing out the welcoming mat. Instead it was her daughters, Linda and Terry Jane, who opened the doors to beckon visitors in and, just as Dorothy would have it, they reminisced, ate and fellowshipped in honor of her life and her passing on to her heavenly home.
Dorothy was born in 1931 in Borger, to parents of Evelyn and Forest Wertz. It was a time the oilfield in East Texas was in full swing and her father worked cable tool rigs. When she was 3 months-old, Forest’s work brought him near Turnertown, but no houses could be found and the family settled in Gilmer. As soon as houses became available, they moved closer to his work. Dorothy started to school in White Oak where she remained until her junior year and then the family moved into Shell Camp located in Kilgore. She graduated from Kilgore High School and attended Kilgore College.
Dorothy married Henry Mitchell, who came to the oilfield from Navarro County. He had worked for Renshaw Bros. Well Service and had hired on to Tidewater Oil at the time of their marriage. After marriage, they moved to Cayuga and were there for five years before being transferred to Venice, Louisiana. After 21 years of being away the Mitchell family moved back to Kilgore. In 1976, Dorothy went to work for Lloyd Bolding at Acid Engineering until retirement in 1987. Later, she went back to work for Ms. Bolding after she purchased Expressions Gift Store. Henry retired from Getty-Texaco in 1986.
Dorothy’s ancestry was Cherokee and it showed in her work ethic and her attitude. Always observant and keen in detail, Dorothy proved herself to be a smart woman, with a beautiful heart and a kind smile. Even though some of her dearest friends claimed she was part gypsy because she was always ready to go, no one had reason to doubt she was indeed Cherokee.
She had a tremendous love of genealogy and traveled to various cemeteries to obtain “rubbings” from headstones to be framed for family members. So intricate was her recorded documentation of family ties that it filled volumes and she was informed it would go into the archives of the Cherokee Nation Heritage Center. It was something that Dorothy felt very honored to have achieved. The Cherokee National Historical Society recognized Dorothy Jane Wertz Mitchell as a Life Member of the First Families of the Cherokee Nation and a direct descendent of James W. and Nancy Griffin a legal resident of the Cherokee Nation. She became member #657 on May 15, 2006 and was awarded a certificate of recognition. This recognition paved the way for herself, her daughters and four grandchildren to receive their First Family Member number. It also opened the door for her first cousin, Gary Smith who received his First Family number a few short days after applying and would help him with the position of councilman.
Most of Dorothy’s writings were done in pencil. Something she taught those around her to do and you would assume that it would be in case you needed to change something. However, after a flood that took her daughter’s home in Louisiana some of her papers were found. Those written in pencil were still legible; those written in ink had smeared due to dampness.
Dorothy also taught to “never put off until tomorrow what one could do today.” She used the phrase wisely often up before the rooster could crow and not stopping until dusk. If you were in trouble, she was there in a heartbeat and was continually checking on you afterward. It was not unusual for her to invite you to come and stay until that trouble or troubled heart had gone away. And yes, she was ready to go anywhere at any time. That was Dorothy or “Dot” and she was loved. And that is the way with all of her family - extending that open door to anyone who arrived.
Dorothy was strong in her faith and a member of Forest Home Baptist Church. She was also a 50-year Member of the Order of the Eastern Star.
Teachings passed on to others were evident even to the embroidered ribbons hanging from the beautiful casket spray and other minute details handled on the day her body returned to earth. It was a perfect day and a beautiful good-bye. Yes, they came and even for those who couldn’t make it, you knew they were there in spirit and through prayers. She left this world in grace, with wisdom and with the knowledge she lives on through her loved ones. Rest in Peace, dear friend, we shall meet again. Dorothy Jane Wertz Mitchell - May 29, 1931 - October 13, 2019.
May His Love and Laughter fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the Week. We may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-984-2593.