Dortha V. Doersch, 98, passed away on January 31, 2023, in Williamsburg, Virginia where she had lived for 31 years.
Dortha was born in Ballinger, Texas, on October 26, 1924, to Paul D. Huffaker and Jewel (Conner) Huffaker. In her large extended family, Dortha was the first to attend and graduate university. She joined the US Navy during World War II, and pitched for the Navy women’s softball team against semi-pro women’s teams and competed for them in New York City at ping pong tournaments. She was the first woman at her university to graduate with a degree in music as a band and orchestra conductor. In 1948 she was the first woman hired in the Chicago school system to direct the bands and teach music. She taught many musical instruments, and played French horn, guitar, piano, mandolin, and zither. In 1950 at the age of 25, she became the first woman service club director hired by the USAF at Bergstrom Air Base (they waived the age requirement). During the Korean War, she was hired as service club director in Korea, also a first (the age requirement again being waived). Among her many duties, Dortha was active in desegregating the services for Air Force soldiers and officers in Texas and in Korea. During the war, she served at three bases, including one under regular attack. She had many adventures and won many awards in Korea and Japan and returned after the war to California to be service club director at March AFB. She married SAC wing commander Maj. (later Colonel) George A. Doersch in 1955. They had three children and lived in several states and in Germany. Dortha was a Girl Scout leader, a passionate advocate for the arts in public education, and for many years continued to teach music. She bred and raised show horses for competition and directed touring youth musicals. She retired as telemarketing instructor in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1989. Dortha took up scuba diving in her mid-60s and continued for 20 years, with more than 100 dives in Africa, Papua New Guinea, Australia, the Caribbean, and the US. Dortha and George moved to Williamsburg in 1992, where he died two years later. She was a member of Williamsburg Presbyterian Church where she served as a family deacon, the Daughters of the American Revolution in which she was elected historian, and for years, competed in Williamsburg area bridge tournaments. A devoted Democrat, Dortha was a volunteer poll worker in Williamsburg for numerous elections and happily provided rides to homebound voters on voting day regardless of political affiliation. Not an activist by temperament, she nevertheless had deep political convictions, and marching against the US starting a war in Iraq and demonstrating on behalf of Marriage Equality. A woman of immense energy, imagination, warmth, vitality, and irrepressible sense of humor, she will be missed by friends and her family that adored her. She is survived by her son, Charles Doersch (Sean McCollum) in London, UK, daughter Georgeann Paddock (David Paddock) of Williamsburg, VA, and son, David Doersch (Catherine Doersch) of Waynesville, NC, and grandchildren Paul Paddock of Minneapolis, MN, Rose Paddock of St. Peter, MN, Miranda Wiley (Jake Sobol) of Haydenville, MA, Kaliska Wiley of South Hadley, MA, and Natalie Hauke of Miami, FL.
The family is grateful to the staff at Edgeworth Park Assisted Living and Amedisys Hospice.
Memorial service will be Monday, February 6, 2023, at 11:00 am at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to DAR Scholarships (DAR.org), Spirit Rising Humanitarian Charity (Spirit-Rising2.org), and Williamsburg Presbyterian Church (myWPC.org). Dortha will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery later this year.
Williamsburg Presbyterian Church - Directions
215 Richmond Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185