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Great Lakes Hospice
Life Story / Obituary
A woman of strength, humor, and opinion Dorothy Louise Sutton, 88, lived her life with steadfast commitment, laughter, and courage. Genuinely devoted to her family, Dorothy relished nothing more than sharing the lives of those she loved. Dorothy embraced life’s joys and challenges equally, recognizing the gifts in both and inspiring others by her example. Deeply treasured, Dorothy leaves behind a brilliant legacy of beautiful memories her loved ones will forever hold as priceless heirlooms.
The beginning of 1929 continued to ride the decade’s roaring wave of peace, prosperity, and hope. The nation celebrated the recent inventions of Penicillin, the iron lung, bubble gum, and the Yo-Yo, as well as Charles Lindbergh’s Congressional Medal of Honor and Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. As the wave of sweeping social and economic growth rapidly increased nowhere was there more hope for the future than in the home Era Rex and Flossie (Baker) Ainslie where on January 1st they welcomed their youngest child and the first baby born in Grand Rapids in the new year daughter Dorothy Louise.
Though the 1930’s brought their challenges to the Ainslie family, including Flossie’s death in 1939, Dorothy enjoyed growing up in the home her father lovingly built with the good company of her siblings, Katherine, John, Esther, and Beatrice. While Dorothy’s father worked as a Grand Rapids firefighter, her mother tended to the children and home. Dorothy attended Harrison Park Elementary School and graduated from Union High School in 1946. As a teen, Dorothy enjoyed attending the many area dances and football and basketball games, as well as going camping with her large circle of girlfriends. Like many young people of her generation, the times inspired a need for Dorothy to work from a young age. When she was 16, Dorothy earned her first job at the Crystal Flash Gas Station on Alpine Ave., where she worked for a year. She then spent the next 16 months working at Michigan Bell Telephone.
After graduating high school, Dorothy moved to Los Angeles, California. Shortly thereafter she met and fell in love with Darrell Johnson. The couple married in August 1948 and soon welcomed their three children, Joanne, Lorie, and Tom into their hearts and home.
Nine years later, after she and Darrell divorced, Dorothy and her children returned to her roots in Grand Rapids in 1957. For the next year, Dorothy and the kids lived with Dorothy’s father in Sparta. In late 1957 Dorothy reacquainted with a long time friend, Ernest “Windy” Sutton at a party. The couple’s instant attraction soon led to love and they happily married in a small intimate wedding ceremony by the local Justice of the Peace on April 12, 1958. The couple began their life together in Sparta and in 1962 welcomed their twins, Patrick and Michelle, into their family. Dorothy and Windy eventually purchased a home in Allendale where they spent the rest of their lives.
While Windy provided for the family by working at various jobs including Les Tassel Hardware and Kent Products, Dorothy proudly took on the challenges and rewards of caring for their children and home. The family attended Mt. Olive Lutheran Church where they explored and celebrated their faith. Summers were particularly memorable as they often centered around rental cottages on Lake Michigan and camping throughout the state. They especially enjoyed the comforts of traveling in their motor home.
A woman of many talents, Dorothy lovingly created many a beautiful wreath. She also skillfully upholstered footstools and other pieces of furniture for family and friends throughout the years. Dorothy particularly enjoyed searching for spoons to add to her wonderful collection and listening to Big Band music, show tunes, and the Beatles. A fierce Trivia Pursuit player, Dorothy was often the star of her team. She savored taking center stage as the rest of her team sat back and enjoyed watching her show her stuff. Her favorite place to spend time was Grand Haven Beach which she frequented often and loved sharing with others.
Once their children had grown, Dorothy and Windy explored the U.S. in their motorhome with Dorothy’s brother and sister-in-law, John and Barb Ainsley. Together the couples adventured to Yellowstone, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts and Canada. Later, Dorothy and Windy escaped Michigan’s winters and enjoyed the sunny weather in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
The joys of being a parent to her five children grew even greater when Dorothy was blessed by becoming a grandmother. Dorothy thoroughly embraced her role cherishing every moment spent with her grandchildren. She loved sharing time, celebrating birthdays, and proudly supporting each of her grandkids in all of their endeavors.
Sadly, Dorothy had to say goodbye to her husband and friend Windy in May of 2009 after supporting him through several years of various health challenges. After Windy’s death, Dorothy spent even more time with her children and grandchildren who afforded her deep comfort. As she aged and health challenges presented themselves Dorothy naturally slowed downed and came to find much enjoyment in following her favorite shows like American Pickers and all of the Judge shows. Dorothy was very politically minded. An avid O'Reilly Factor viewer, Dorothy had firm opinions, and she wasn’t shy about sharing them.
With deep fortitude, Dorothy met her health challenges, including heart bypass surgery, with much courage. Three years ago Dorothy moved American House Lloyd's Bayou in Spring Lake where she was able to live independently in the supportive senior community. Eventually, as her health declined, Dorothy needed the additional good care provided by Great Lakes Hospice. It is here that Dorothy died in the comforts of her treasured family on St. Patrick’s Day.
The world is surely duller without Dorothy’s steadfast light.Though she will be dearly missed, Dorothy will be lovingly remembered. Whether it be sharing time with family, the splendor of Lake Michigan’s shores, hanging a holiday wreath, or dominating a game of Trivia Pursuit, Dorothy’s family will long feel the eternal spark of her legacy in their hearts and lives.
Dorothy L. Sutton, aged 88 of Allendale and Spring Lake, MI, passed away on Friday, March 17, 2017 with her loving family at her side. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ernest “Windy” Sutton, her son, Tom Johnson, her great granddaughter, Taylor JoAnn Szymas, sisters, Beatrice Fritz and Catherine Monique and brother John Ainslie. She is survived by her children, JoAnn “Jo” Carter, Lorie Johnson (Danny Fitzgerald), Patrick Sutton (Vicki Eisen), Michelle “Mickie” (Peter) Jackson; daughter-in-law Lorrie Johnson; 6 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren; her sister, Esther Gray; many nieces, nephews and friends. Dorothy was a loving and dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt and a friend to all who knew her. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered. Cremation has taken place. Relatives and friends may meet her family for a time of visitation and support on Friday, April 21, 2017 from 5:00 - 8:00 pm at Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home - 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Contributions in her memory may be made to Great Lakes Hospice. To read more about Dorothy’s life, to sign her guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com