Monday, May 19, 2008
11:00 AM EDT
Samuel Lutheran Church
Muskegon, MI 49441
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Samuel Lutheran Church
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Life Story / Obituary
Dorothy Hylen Richards was a strong, yet gentle woman who lived her life by being an example of a loving wife, nurturing mother, devoted friend and faithful Christian. She was constant in the lives of those who knew her, very dependable and loyal. Dorothy spent her days making sure that everyone knew the most important thing in life – that they were loved.
The year was 1918 and Woodrow Wilson was re-elected for a second term as President, Irving Berlin penned the legendary patriotic song God Bless America, and World War I was nearing its end. In the bustling city of Chicago, Illinois, John Dahlstrand and his wife, Hazel (Talmage), were celebrating the birth of their precious daughter, Dorothy, born on August 3, 1918. She was welcomed into the family by her older brother, Russell, who doted on his baby sister.
Dorothy grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, where her father owned a lumber company in Crystal Lake and was the choir director at their church. After the stock market crash in 1929, the family fell on hard times and lost the lumber company. They then packed up and moved to Muskegon, Michigan to live by relatives. The family settled in an apartment in downtown Muskegon, and began attending the mainly Swedish congregation at Samuel Lutheran Church. Sadly, Dorothy’s father died 2 years later when she was 13, leaving her older brother Russell to be the provider for the family while she completed her schooling. After graduating from Muskegon High School in 1936, Dorothy secured a good job at Sealed Power Corporation as secretary for the Head of Purchasing.
Dorothy’s life took a new direction when a friend introduced her to James Hylen, who worked at a butcher shop on Biedler Street. As fate would have it, the two fell hopelessly in love and were married on June 24, 1939. The newlyweds settled into married life together in East Muskegon, though they later moved to the Lakeside District, which was considered the “spiritual heart” of Muskegon. Here, James got a job at Brunswick, a manufacturer of bowling products, and remained here until retiring. With a good job under his belt, the couple then decided to start a family of their own, and was overjoyed with the birth of their daughter, Janet, in 1943. She was later joined by their son, James Jr., in 1952, and daughter, Julie, in 1958, who rounded out the Hylen household.
Dorothy stayed home when the children came, wanting to dedicate herself to the role of a mother. Caring and attentive, she took an active role in every phase of her children’s lives. From participating in the PTA and as a Brownie leader to being a busy choir and band parent, her passion was to support her family. Although she made sure the children had all they needed, she was very frugal-minded and never bought what they couldn’t afford. Dorothy took great pride in the fact that her children all went on to graduate college, have good careers and families of their own. The successes in their lives are a great testimony to her parenting! It wasn’t until the 1970s that Dorothy went to work outside the home at Beermans Music Store for 10 years.
Because James was pretty much a homebody, the couple didn’t take many vacations. Instead, they stayed near home and spent time socializing and playing cards with their good friends, Delores and Al Stenseng, and Doug and Maxine Weatherbee. They enjoyed grilling on the weekends, and spending leisure moments together, sitting on their screened porch reading, something they both loved to do. For many years, Dorothy enjoyed regularly meeting up with her friend, Ruth Lundwall, for some tea and a chat. In their community, the couple was members of the Elks, and Dorothy belonged to a Bridge Club and the Muskegon Women’s Club too. A woman of great faith, Dorothy was a lifelong member of her childhood church, Samuel Lutheran. She joyfully participated in many of the church activities, including as a member of WELCA and Esther Circle.
It was her faith and her family that Dorothy came to rely on after losing her beloved husband James in 1987, after a 5-year battle with cancer. They were married for 48 years. Dorothy visited the cemetery often, and starting going with Don Richards, who was also a widower and longtime friends of theirs. Dorothy and Don found great comfort in each other and over time their friendship blossomed into something more. They started dating, but only out of town, because they were afraid people wouldn’t approve of their relationship. But Dorothy’s children gave her their approval, so after a year, they were married on September 16, 1989. Together, they enjoyed some traveling and took a trip to Hawaii and started wintering in Winter Haven, Florida. They stayed active riding their three-wheel bikes, playing shuffleboard and socializing with their circle of friends. Sadly, after only 8 years of marriage, Dorothy lost her wonderful husband, Don, in 1997.
Dorothy lived independently for the next 10 years, and because she didn’t drive much, she relied on friends and her granddaughter to get around and take her to church. In the summer of 2007, Dorothy moved to an assisted living community, where she died on Monday, May 12, 2008, at the age of 89.
All who knew Dorothy were blessed by her unconditional love and generosity of spirit. She will be greatly missed and frequently remembered.
Dorothy is survived by her son, James Jr. (Judy) Hylen of Charlotte; daughters, Janet (William) Grant of Spring Lake & Julie (Gary) Nash of Grandville; grandchildren: Susan, Jennifer, Scott, Jeffrey, Jeremy, Jillian, Joshua, Lindsey, Jorden; 14 great grandchildren, many nieces, nephews, and special cousin Doris. She was preceded in death by her husbands, James Hylen and Donald Richards, and her brother, Russell Dahlstrand. Services for Dorothy will be held on Monday, May 19, at 11:00 a.m. at Samuel Lutheran Church with Pastor Lewis Glick officiating. Interment will be at Oakwood Cemetery. Friends and relatives may visit with her family on Sunday, May 18, from 2-5 p.m. at Clock Life Story Funeral Home - Muskegon. Memorial contributions may be made to Samuel Lutheran Church. Please visit Dorothy’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a memory with her family or sign her online guest book.