Dorothy “Dotty” Kathleen Mead
January 13, 1923 — August 1, 2019
Our dearest Dot passed away on August 1, 2019, at the ripe old age of 96 years. Born in Walla Walla on January 13, 1923, to Hugh “Pink” and Edith O’Neil, she shared her birthday with her beloved twin sister Patricia Kathryn O’Neil (Patty).
During her childhood, her father’s newspaper career moved the family to many places, including Honolulu, HI, Long Beach, WA and the Spokane, WA area. Finally, the family settled in Dayton, where Pink and his brother Pat O’Neil eventually became the owners and publishers of The Dayton Chronicle, and where Dot and Patty graduated from Dayton High School as members of the class of 1941. It was in Dayton where Dot met her classmate and eventual husband, Charles S. Mead III (Chuck.)
Soon after graduation and enrollment that fall at Washington State College in Pullman, WA, the attack on Pearl Harbor changed the world forever. Chuck departed along with others of the Greatest Generation, to join the U.S. military as defenders of our nation’s freedom. Dot continued her studies, working her way through Washington State College earning a degree in journalism and then working as a reporter for the Spokesman Review in Spokane; she pledged to the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority. Chuck returned from the war and on May 18, 1946, he and Dot were married in Dayton. They then moved to Mead Ranch north of town, where they thrived on the family farm. Their family grew with the birth of their first child Margaret (Mickey) in 1950, followed by Mary in 1952, Kay in 1955, and Charles S. Mead IV (Skip) in 1957. In 2009, Chuck and Dot finally retired from 63 years of farm life and moved to their home on Spring Street in Dayton.
On the ranch Dotty brought a touch of class to a large old house and maintained an extensive lawn and garden. She assisted Chuck in moving farm equipment, occasionally driving truck during harvest, herding cattle on horseback, and manning the wheel while Chuck tossed bales of hay to cattle in 10 degree weather. In the summer she processed fruits and vegetables for winter use and saddled and unsaddled five horses for evening rides with her children.
Throughout her life Dot was involved in many community activities. She was a member of PEO Chapter BJ and AAUW. For years she worked in the pari mutuel betting booth at Dayton Days. She and Chuck supported the Dayton Main Street rejuvenation projects of the 1970-90s including restorations of the Columbia County Court House, the Liberty Theater, and especially dear to her heart, was the Dayton Historic Depot. One event to which she always looked forward was the annual Cattleman’s Dinner, where she’d cut a rug with (son) Skip. An avid skier, she and Chuck were initial supporters in what is now Ski Bluewood where she took her last run at age 81. She also worked toward the building of the tennis courts in Dayton City Park.
Summers were the best of times around the pool where Dotty religiously swam her daily laps. Several times a week she hosted friends and their children for afternoon swimming. Barbecuing steaks and frolicking in the water replaced bridge when the clubs she and Chuck belonged to gathered during summer months.
Dotty instilled in her children a love of swimming and the beach. Annual family vacations to Long Beach, WA. (where another branch of the O’Neil family published the local paper, The Chinook Observer) with her sister Patty and family were the source of great delight and many happy memories. After Patty’s death in 1976 and throughout Dot’s long life, her love of the ocean was fulfilled by beach vacations along the west coast and on the island of Kauai.
In the 1960s, Dotty, sister Patty, and friends became pilots. She went on to earn advanced pilot ratings and taught flight ground school at WWCC and in Dayton. When the miniature “Gone Flying” windsock was on the kitchen counter her family knew they should start dinner.
A true enthusiast of arts and music, her children taking piano lessons was not an option, for which we are forever grateful. She was dedicated in her attendance of multiple recitals and performances, and as of late she especially enjoyed the Liberty Theater productions and Julia’s various theatrics.
Ever the sports fan, Dotty showed her Bulldog spirit by attending Dayton High football baseball and basketball games throughout the years her children and grandchildren were in school, and more recently she attended soccer games of her great grandchildren. She enthusiastically followed Gonzaga basketball but could not watch the WSU Cougars for fear she would jinx any chance they had of winning.
Dot was an avid reader and student of classic literature and history, though she would never turn down a Janet Evanovich mystery. She loved travel and periodically was able to convince Chuck to join her. His lack of wanderlust did not deter her, and she enjoyed many memorable trips with her sister, children, and dear friends.
Her family and friends (many lifelong) knew Dot as a smart fun lady who was loyal to the core. Regardless of her diverse interests they came first. In her later years Dot’s grandchildren and their families were the source of great joy and delight. Her final wishes were to be home, sit on her front porch, and watch the great grand kids play. Her wishes were granted, and she said goodbye.
Dot was preceded in death by her husband Chuck; sister Patty; brother-in-law Hal Mead; cousin Peggy O’Neil Freeman; and her beloved daughter Mickey. She is survived by her children, Mary Mead of El Cerrito, CA, Kay Mead (Brad Anderson) of Walla Walla, and, out at Mead Ranch, her son Skip (Julia) Mead; grandchildren Charlie (Whitney) Mead and Marcus (Lacey) Mead; and six great-grandchildren Owen, Chase, Weston, Hailey, Gwendolen and Bronwen Mead. Also surviving are her nephews Mike, Jack and Jim Hubbard; and niece Anne O’Neil, their children, and cousins Mike O’Neil and Carol O’Neil.
Ciao for now, Dot.
The funeral service will be held on Saturday, August 10, at 10:30 a.m., in the Congregational Church, 214 South Third Street, Dayton, WA. In lieu of flowers donations to the Patricia K. Hubbard Scholarship Fund or charitable organization of your choice are encouraged.