1209 Post Road | Fairfield, Connecticut | 06824
Obituary of Dorothy M. Myer
Dorothy Margaret Myer lived her early years on a then quiet, yet to be electrified winding dirt road on rural Greenfield Hill in Fairfield, Connecticut. Her Mother, Margaret Lengyel Myer cared for a family that included four younger siblings, Charles Jr., Mary, Fred Sr. and Frank. Her Father, Charles Sr. worked throughout the Great Depression for Southern New England Bell Telephone which provided at least subsistence income for the growing family. This supplemented their diets, which made resourceful use of milk and meat from a cow, goats, chickens and ducks, and a multitude of fruits and vegetables. In addition, the family's nutrition was improved when Father and brothers hunted raccoons and other wildlife in nearby woods, often with the two family hunting dogs. Eventually their hard work evolved into one of the last market farms in Fairfield, serving selected friends and neighbors from around the town and county. About six acres of strawberries, corn and tomatoes were well appreciated and widely sought after by customers who had become familiar with their exceptional quality and freshness.
Her parents and the five siblings are/were devout Roman Catholics, first attending services at Assumption Church in Westport, Connecticut, then later at the more nearby Saint Pius X Church in Fairfield.
On her first day of public school, Dot's parents were admonished to immediately cease speaking Hungarian as had been carried over to Catamount Road from her maiden Lengyel family. Dorothy's parents were warned that the use of Hungarian would create hardships for her as she sought to become more proficient in the English language during her school years. From that time on Hungarian was only spoken at the Myer household for the purpose of carrying forward certain private conversations among adult family members.
Throughout Dorothy's childhood and young adulthood, she built upon her fascination with the butterflies, birds, trees and plants that highlighted many hours and days enjoyed in the outdoors. There she basked in the beauty of her surroundings. She excelled in school, studying by daylight or lamplight, beginning at Timothy Dwight Elementary School, and later at Roger Ludlowe High School. Dorothy loved to ice skate and made regular wintertime visits to several nice ponds in her neighborhood. Eventually her Father built a skating pond of her own a short distance behind the family homestead that she enjoyed with subsequent generations of Myers and family friends.
After completing high school Dorothy remained at home for a number of years before enrolling at the University of Vermont to resume her formal education. It was uncommon at that time for women to attend college, but Dorothy immersed herself in her studies and made countless friends around the University and the King Street neighborhood where she resided. Dorothy always seemed to have a very quiet and modest way of interacting with everyone she came into contact with, making use of simple, comprehensible words and phrases inclusive of people of all ability and education levels.
While attending the University, Dorothy became very active in the Outing Club, and used her bicycle on a nearly year-round basis for transportation of all sorts, including to the Outing Club's rustic accommodations just below Bolton Valley ski area where she became an avid snowshoer, cross country and downhill skier. As time went on, she joined in and eventually led many hikes with the Green Mountain Club. Through sheer determination she went on to become highly accomplished at mountaineering. For many years she was on record as having been the first woman to summit all of the 4000 plus foot peaks in Vermont, New York, New Hampshire and Maine in both winter and summer. Eventually Dot was quick to point out that an additional Adirondack peak was found to exceed 4000 feet; one which she ended up summitting only in the summer but not during the winter. Her adventures with climbing partners included special GMC friends Ralph and Carlene, but a great many others who joined day hikes, overnights and expeditions with her. Dorothy insisted that she was not an especially good hiker or mountain climber, explaining that she was merely very determined. If one route did not work out or extreme weather interfered with an effort to summit, she and her partners would return time and again until they had fulfilled their objectives.
After graduating near the top of her class from UVM in 1955, Dot began her career working as a research associate at Fletcher Allen Hospital that eventually became the University of Vermont Medical Center. For decades she painstakingly recorded data and conducted research on cancer and other major maladies that she and her co-workers sought to eliminate or reduce in frequency. Dorothy's precision-oriented skills at documentation evolved into her becoming a record keeper for many different organizations that she would become deeply involved with.
Her volunteer activities were a passion. For many years she was a tireless leader of the Girl Scouts in Burlington. She put in many hours with the Leahy Center at the Burlington waterfront on Lake Champlain. Dot tutored regularly in local schools. She mentored many girls, at times inviting certain ones she regarded as being particularly in need into her home in heartfelt efforts to help them get their lives stabilized and onto solider ground.
She had seemingly limitless compassion for people she met far and wide. Over the years she travelled to many nations and parts of the world, but not as a tourist. Instead, she participated in programs that involved community building efforts such as supporting schools or health centers. Alternately she participated in scientific expeditions including trips to the Galapagos Islands, Patagonia, and off the coast of Antarctica. She spent time volunteering in Haiti and explored China. She marveled at the wildlife in East Africa, going on to adopt quite a few children in that region and beyond through Save the Children and other organizations. Dot travelled to and did some climbing in Switzerland, perhaps exploring some of her roots there. Her Father was of Swiss descent, with German speaking Swiss family members having arrived a generation or two before at Ellis Island.
Dot lived for many years near the airport in South Burlington, making use of her bicycle, buses, Amtrak or the airlines that were a short walk away from her home of sixty plus years on Patrick Street. She never owned a car and seldom drove one. She was light years ahead of her time in terms of her values which included concern about excessive reliance upon fossil fuels and internal combustion engines. Bicycles were quieter and more affordable, she would explain. This permitted her to look more closely at places she was pedaling through and to interact with or initiate friendships with people here or there.
She always kept in close contact with her family, who mostly remained in the vicinity of Fairfield County, or nearby New York City or state. After Greenfield Hill became too gentrified for them, her brother Fred moved his family from their familiar neighborhood on Catamount Road to Bethlehem, Connecticut. One nephew Michael ended up in the Carolinas. A niece, Marilyn lost her life to cancer over two decades ago, but Marilyn's children and former husband remain in the southeast. Another niece, Patty, lived for many years in Fairfield before moving to Ansonia with her son and former husband Greg. Dorothy's eldest nephew Bill Coleman is the only remaining family member of hers who lives in Vermont. Dorothy had been spending time over the years in Newark, Vermont with hiking and paddling friends at a camp owned by Olga Vrana and family. Without knowing much at that time about Dorothy's presence in the area, Bill Coleman eventually established a home on that same sparsely populated laneway during the mid 1980s. This unusual coincidence reinforced family members' realizations that we share a very small and fragile planet.
Dot continued to make use of her bicycle well into her early nineties, and was highly reluctant to put it aside entirely. An old family sleigh of Carlene's was the only form of transportation besides bicycles that ever occupied her one car garage on Patrick Street for any length of time during her sixty plus years there.
Dorothy ended up completing her final sixteen months on Earth back in Connecticut. Dorothy became very ill on a visit to Connecticut to visit her sister Mary with her nephew Bill Coleman during February 2022. Although she recovered to a great extent before long, she chose to enter an assisted living facility, residing for a time down the hall from Mary. Bill sold her home in South Burlington with assistance in organizing the process from two nieces Patty and Carole. After an unexpected tumble in late May of 2023 her health took an extremely sad and rapid downward trajectory although she mostly retained her wonderful sense of humor until her final hours. Her customarily peaceful countenance and mannerisms we knew and loved so very much were with her through her final breaths.
Her life on Earth concluded after ninety-five plus years at around noon on June 1st, 2023. Her nephew Bill had minutes earlier been discussing having seen a few increasingly rare Azure butterflies fluttering near ground level on a recent visit to a no longer operating dairy farm in Sutton, Vermont. A few weeks earlier Dorothy had delighted in seeing a butterfly approach very close to her while in the company of one of her nieces, Carole. She was elated to see the butterfly which perhaps chose to become known to her through its' presence and to offer appreciation and gratitude for a life so truly well lived!
Dorothy was predeceased by her parents Charles and Margaret, and by brothers Frank and Fred as well as niece Marilyn and grandnephew Adam. She is survived by her brother Charles Myer of Fairfield, CT., her sister Mary Coleman of Wallingford, Ct., and three nieces, six nephews, numerous grandnieces and grandnephews, and an entire global population that has benefitted collectively in large and small ways from her peaceful ways and her kindness.
In lieu of flowers, Dorothy's family ask that donations in her honor or memory be made to the Green Mountain Club: Burlington Chapter, Save the Children or the University of Vermont and Agricultural College.
Calling hours will be held on Friday, June 9th from 5 to 7:30 PM in the Lesko & Polke Funeral Home 1209 Post Road, in Fairfield Center. On Saturday, June 10th at 10:30 AM, friends may join her family in Assumption Church, in Westport for her Mass of Christian Burial. Interment will follow in Assumption Cemetery, in Greens Farms. For travel directions or to sign her online guest register, please visit www.LeskoPolkeFuneralHome.comTo send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dorothy Myer, please visit Tribute Store