She taught sewing skills to her close-knit family

August 21, 2005|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

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 Dolly Evelyn May Witmer Carrier, who died Aug. 12 at the age of 66. Her obituary appeared in the Aug. 15 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

BIG POOL - Sewing provided solace during a childhood marked by hard work.

Dolly E. Carrier worked the land as a young girl in the 1940s. Somewhere between completing her farm chores and tending to her three siblings, Dolly taught herself to sew. She started a family legacy.

Dolly died Aug. 12 at the age of 66 while she slept at her daughter Sandy Forsyth's home in Big Pool. She lost an ongoing battle with cancer, but her memory lives on in her children's hands.


Her son Lewis Carrier Jr., 47, of Hedgesville, W.Va., hand sewed the seat covers to his Chevelle. Kenny Carrier, 39, of Big Pool, made dresses and aprons for his wife.

The three girls, Beccy Cottrill, 34, of Big Pool, Vanessa Warner, 45, of St. Mary's, W.Va., and Sandy Forsyth, 48, of Big Pool, are avid sewers.

Sandy remembers Easter dresses her mother made for her and Vanessa - the "tomboy."

"She made them from feed sacks," Sandy said. "They were blue with huge white daisies on them. Vanessa hated it. She cried."

"I was the 'tomboy,'" Vanessa agreed.

Granddaughters Angela Dawn, 25, of St. Mary's, and Shainna Reed, 30, of Big Pool, received their first sewing lessons from Dolly, too.

The skill Dolly handed down was one of the few things she could pass on from her troubled childhood, her daughters said.

Dolly was born in a little two-bedroom house in Boonsboro on March 8, 1939. Her father, Silas H. Witmer, was a sharecropper who raised rabbits for their food and for the fur. Her mother, Savannaha Witmer Wynkoop, who lives in Hagerstown, worked at a sewing machine factory.

Dolly did most of the work around the house, including helping raise her two sisters and her brother. Over the years, her relationship with her parents and siblings deteriorated, Vanessa said.

"She didn't get a chance to have a childhood," she said. "She just got down to the attitude of 'if I'm going to take care of the whole family, I might as well have one of my own.'"

Dolly married Lewis A. Carrier on June 17, 1956. She was 16. They were married for 49 years.

"It was love at first sight," said Lewis, 68. "She was just a beautiful girl."

They raised their family on a small farm in Big Pool, where many of her children still live today.

"She taught us how to kill chickens and rabbits," Vanessa said. "And if you said you were bored, you were out weeding the garden."

Beccy said they were at "church whenever the doors were open."

"And when they were closed, we were inside cleaning it," Vanessa said.

Dolly got a piece of her youth back in September 2000, when the family took her to Disneyland.

"To see her so childlike," Vanessa said. "It was priceless."

It seemed like happiness was enough to carry them through the years. Their days were filled with church hymns, cookie making and bird watching. But nobody was prepared for what happened last April.

"It came as a shock to me when the doctors told me she only had nine to 12 months to live," Beccy said.

Dolly was diagnosed with bone cancer and had to undergo radiation treatment. Dolly's condition took a turn for the worse three weeks before she died, Sandy said.

Eventually, everyone was camping out in Sandy's living room. Then, one evening, Dolly fell asleep and never woke up.

Sandy said her mother was peaceful during those last days and had accepted what was coming. Weeks before she took her last breath, Dolly asked Sandy, "Where are they at?"

"I said 'who?'" Sandy said. "She said 'The angels who are supposed to come get me.'"

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