the first born daughter of John Theodore and Gertrude Elizabeth Freeman, was
born on January 13, 1930, in Oregon City at the Hutchison Hospital. Upon
leaving the hospital, she spent a couple of weeks with Gertrude’s family at
the John H. Griffiths’ farm, near Carus. A heavy snow blanketed the area
that month and Gertie had the mumps.
Her father, Ted, had just been offered a job
in Medford, and the family moved there when Gertie and Dorothy were able
to travel. About eight months later, the family moved again to
Multnomah, a suburb in southwest Portland, when her parents bought a
service station business.
When Dorothy was about 18 months old, a
second daughter, Joann Elizabeth, joined the family in August of 1931.
Times were difficult as the Great Depression had started, and her
parents worked hard with Ted running the business and Gertie doing the
bookkeeping as well as caring for the two girls. In 1935 Ted gave up
the service station and went to work as a salesman for West Bearing in
was a very pretty child with jet black hair, blue eyes, fair skin and a
happy disposition. She was very bright, learned quickly and soon became
the darling of her grandparents and aunts. She was the first born
grandchild for both sides of her family. She readily took on the role of
“big sister” to Joann and soon the two little girls with black bobbed
hair and blue eyes who often dressed alike had many friends in the
little community where they lived.
In January of 1935
Dorothy began her schooling in the Kindergarten at Multnomah Grade
School. She was an enthusiastic student who was soon reading well and
taking part in many activities beginning a life-long interest in
learning. She started taking violin lessons during this time. In
September of 1936, Emily Hannah, was born and Dorothy again became a
loving “big sister”.
In the spring of 1940, when Dorothy was 10
years old and in the fifth
grade, the family moved to a farm south
of Salem where her father operated a walnut and filbert orchard. This
was quite a “culture shock” as she transferred to a one-room country
school in Prospect. The family soon had a
garden and a cow, goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, a dog and cats.
Dorothy adapted well to the change, and she and Joann walked to and from
school each day on a lonely country road. She did well in the small
school and soon had many projects which she shared with the other
children. She also continued playing the violin and though she didn’t
have formal lessons, her father worked with her and her skills continued
The 1941-42 school year was again a time of
change with the sixth
grade spent at schools in Prospect,
Liberty and Donald. Her Grandfather Freeman died in December of 1941,
and the family moved briefly to the town of Liberty and then to the
Champoeg farm of her grandfather. Here her father raised hops and flax
as well as working a contract with canneries in Salem to fill silos with
the corn off-fall. She spent her seventh
grades at Butteville School and moved again
when the family bought a farm near Molalla in the summer of 1944.
Dorothy started at Molalla High in the fall of that year and graduated
with the class of 1948.
For Dorothy, High School
years were very busy. She was a 4 year Honor Roll Student and was
involved in many school activities such as the school Orchestra, Junior
Red Cross, Girls Athletic Assn. (GAA), Future Homemakers of America
(FHA), Editor of the school newspaper (The
War Whoop), member of the Annual (Arrow)
staff, majorette for the band and a member of the camera club. She was
also taking private violin lessons during this time. Her junior year she
president of the FHA and this entailed traveling to many high schools in
Oregon. In her senior year she was National Vice President of the FHA
and traveled by bus, train and plane to Sun Valley, Idaho; Kansas City,
Missouri; and a number of other High Schools in the area. She was
active in her church youth group and 4H Club exhibiting in sewing,
cooking, canning and style review.
Summers during upper elementary and High
School were spent like many young people of that era, picking berries,
beans, hops and cutting teasels. She also worked a summer or two at the
Birds Eye Frozen food plant in Woodburn where she moved quickly off the
production line into Quality Control. She also worked one summer sewing
for Maritsa Widstrand, the wife of her father’s cousin, at her custom
dress shop in Portland.
In the winter of her junior year she first
met the “Love of her Life” Russell Yoder one Sunday at Smyrna Church
when he was home on leave from service in the Seabees. There was much
interest on both sides, but courting did not start until Russell was
discharged and he moved back to Yoder and was working at the Yoder Mill.
In the spring of 1948, their engagement was announced and the marriage
took place in August of that year. The couple took a 3,000 mile touring
honeymoon to Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and points in
between. Upon their return to Yoder, they set up their household in a
house that stood where their home was later built.
Dorothy took on the role
of a wife and homemaker with as much enthusiasm as she had done with her
previous activities. She embraced her new family, Russell’s work and was
active in church and community life.
In May of 1949 she gave birth to her first
child, Judith. James was born in August of 1952, Mary in March of 1955,
Vernon in July of 1957, Beverly in December of 1960 and David in June of
1964. Her children were a high priority in her life.
was a devoted mother, active in each of her children’s interests and
treated them all equally. She was devoted to her eleven grandchildren
and two great-grandchildren, following all of their activities as
closely as she could until her health prevented that.
Dorothy was a wonderful cook, liked to sew
making many of the family clothes and canned and froze goods from their
garden. She was an active 4H leader teaching many of the children in the
community to sew, cook and preserve, continuing her activities with 4H
until her health made this impossible. She was an accomplished judge of
sewing, cooking and preserving and applied this skill at many of the
County Fairs in the state.
She was a woman of God as an active member of
her church, Smyrna UCC, since she first joined in 1945. She taught in
the Sunday school, served on many committees and was active in the
women’s groups of the church. She was a member of Rural Dell Extension (FCE).
Over a period of 33 years, she was an active parent while her children
attended Rural Dell School and Molalla High School. In 1975, she went
to work for the Rural Dell School District as the District Clerk and
continued in this position until 1996 when she retired from Molalla
River School District. During this period she made many friends of the
students, parents and faculty of the school.
Dorothy loved to travel
and so did her husband. One of her favorite places to go was the Oregon
Coast where she often went with Russell, her children, family and
friends. She took numerous camping trips with her family. Major
vacations included an adventure on the Alaska Highway in 1962, and a
train trip to Detroit via Canada with a return to Oregon in their new
station wagon. She traveled to Hawaii, Washington D.C., California,
Tennessee, Texas and many other places. In 1980, she took a trip with
her father, mother and two sisters to visit family in Sweden and Wales.
She accompanied her husband to the Aleutian Islands and Okinawa to visit
the bases where he was
stationed in World War II.
Over the years, Dorothy and her family hosted
several exchange students from various parts of the world., and she had
some long term pen pals from various places.
Dorothy was a avid photographer and took many
still photos as well as videos and left a rich legacy of her family’s
history. She was church photographer for several years .
The last 11 years of her life have been a
valiant battle with Parkinson’s disease complicated by cancer and a
broken hip. She was able to overcome the cancer and fractured hip, but
the Parkinson’s was persistent and finally took her life on May 7th.
In February of this year her husband of 57 years suffered a severe
stroke and died due to complications soon after.
Dorothy started her life greatly loved and
with a wonderful willing spirit. She had a remarkable life which she
lived to the fullest. We will all miss her, but now it is time for her
to be at peace. She is with Russell and those she loved who have gone on