We Remember

ZOELLNER, Dorothy Jean (née Whitham)

January 1, 1970 — January 1, 1970

‘’We’re going to Oma’s lake! ‘’ said many of her grandchildren, because in their minds, it was as if Okanagan Lake belonged to their grandparents, who lived on its shores for so many years. She died on 6 April 2020, here in Kelowna.

Dorothy Jean (née Whitham) Zoellner was born in Kelowna on 9 August 1929. Her parents, James Donald Whitham (b. 1899) and Florence Bartlett Clements (b. 1904), belonged to pioneer Okanagan families. The Clements settled in Peachland in 1908, while the Whithams arrived in Kelowna in 1912.

Dorothy attended Central Elementary School and Kelowna High School, where she excelled in academics and sports and was president of the class of 1947. She then studied at UBC, graduating in 1951 with a BA degree in English and French and her teaching certificate. She taught at Grand Forks Secondary School from 1951 to 1954. There she met fellow teacher William John “Bill” Zoellner. They were married in Kelowna in 1953 at St. Michael’s and All Angels Anglican Church. Together they had two sons, Garnet (b. 1955) and Reay (b. 1957).

From 1966 to 1973, Dorothy and Bill lived successively in Victoria, Courtenay, and Nelson, returning to Kelowna in 1973 when Bill was appointed Superintendent of School District 23. Dorothy returned to the classroom, teaching at Kelowna Secondary School until her retirement in 1987. In her golden years, Dorothy was active, penning a weekly history column for the Kelowna Daily Courier; writing tour books, leading tours, speaking about Okanagan history, knitting beautiful sweaters, golfing in the summer, curling in the winter, and welcoming many to their beachfront house on Bluebird Road.

Following Bill’s death in 2003, Dorothy remained active in community events, writing for and serving as president of the Okanagan Historical Society and taking tours to the United Kingdom and Alaska with primary school classmate Lorainne McLarty. She also made trips to Quebec and the United States to see her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. On 9 August 2019, family and friends gathered to celebrate Dorothy’s 90th birthday at one of her favourite spots, the Kelowna Golf and Country Club.

Our family thanks God for Dorothy’s life and for the life she has given to so many. We also thank her many friends who visited and encouraged her so faithfully over many years and the staff at Orchard Manor who provided excellent care to her over the final 18 months of her life.

Dorothy is survived by sons Garnet (Daryl) and Reay (Debbi), brother Gordon (Nancy), 9 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in Kelowna in summer 2020, God willing. Details will be announced as they are available.

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