Dorothy Seibert's life was 'well-lived,' says her son

October 24, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Dorothy Royer Seibert, who died Oct. 16 at the age of 85. Her obituary appeared in the Oct. 18 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

CLEAR SPRING - On the day Dorothy Royer Seibert died, 7-year-old Emma Seibert called her grandmother's telephone number over and over again just to hear the voice on the answering machine.

But family members agree that Emily and her cousins won't have any trouble remembering Grandma Dot's kindness, her well-developed sense of fun and contagious love of life.

After a relatively brief illness, Dorothy, 85, passed away Oct. 16 at the St. Paul Road home she came to in 1947 with her then-husband of two years. Frank Seibert, a teacher in Washington County schools for 33 years and "gentleman farmer." Frank died in 1994.


"She had a life well-lived," said her son, Mark Seibert, as he and several of his siblings gathered to share their memories of a mother they concurred was extraordinary in many ways.

Born and raised on a farm in Mercersburg, Pa., Dorothy graduated from Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., in 1940 and taught music in schools in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

"When World War II came, mom gave up her career and went into the American Red Cross," said her son, Michael Seibert. A volunteer, Dorothy worked with returning veterans in Cleveland and Baltimore.

Dorothy and Frank Seibert were married in 1945 and had a daughter and four sons.

She later received her graduate credits in library science from Shippensburg (Pa.) State University and began a new career as librarian at the old Clear Spring High School, which used to be on Martin Street.

When youngest son Mark was born in 1966, Dorothy's library career ended and she returned home to teach private piano lessons and tutor two Chinese ladies in English as a second language while being a stay-at-home mother.

"She didn't know Chinese, but that wasn't necessary in the direct method of teaching English as a second language," said her daughter, Mary Ruth Reis.

One of those ladies has kept in touch with the Seibert family over the years.

"Mom and dad even went to Baltimore for her naturalization ceremony," Mary Ruth said.

At the Oct. 20 funeral service, Mark spoke at length about his mother and her impact on family, friends and others she met.

Last Halloween, Dorothy, then 84, dressed up in an elaborate ghost costume just for the benefit of her grandchildren who don't have trick or treat in their rural neighborhood, Mark said.

Grandson Paul Seibert, who dressed as a magician, and granddaughter Paige Seibert, who was a pumpkin, journeyed next door to grandma's house and at first, didn't even recognize her, Mark said.

Nephew William Royer shared his memory of Aunt Dot and how he loved it when she fixed him peanut butter on Ritz crackers, a snack he always will associate with her.

"Mom was so very young at heart," Michael said. "She was still going sled riding in her 70s, and I mean the kind where she ran with the sled."

Dorothy was 81 when she had her first horseback ride and 83 when she last joined her grandchildren for a swim in the farm pond, Mark said.

Mary Ruth took her mother to a retreat in West Virginia in June and both women enjoyed their long walks together.

"We did Pilates together, too," Mary Ruth said.

Mark, who lives next door to the family home and still works the 71-acre farm, said his wife, Clare, invited Dorothy to a book reading recently and she was a hit.

"They had a great discussion about the book," Mark said.

A few days after Dorothy's death, several family members were sitting around sharing stories and getting ready for the funeral service when a sympathy card arrived in the mail.

"We had just been talking about Mom having a life well-lived when we opened the card and it said just those words at the top," Michael said.

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