Life Story Service
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
11:00 AM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Shorts and Blue Jean are encourage.
Reception will follow the service in the Life Story Center.
Private burial at Mt. EverRest Cemetery.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Dementia Society of America
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Gregarious, generous, and kind, Dorothy (Hoffman) Shillito lived a life rich in family and friends. Whether working to create a loving home where all were welcome, serving her community, tending her gardens, or sharing time with friends and family, Dot always led with her heart. Dot relished being on the move, using her gifts and talents to create a brighter world and encouraging others at every turn. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend, Dot found tremendous pleasure in showering others with her good care. Though she will be sadly missed, Dot will be lovingly remembered by those she loved.
The 1920’s were marked by tremendous confidence, prosperity, and previously unknown comforts. The economy boomed, wages rose for most Americans and prices fell, resulting in a higher standard of living for most. With the inventions of the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, self-winding watch, bulldozer, instant camera, drive-in restaurants, Band-Aids, and the convertible, the post-war era marked significant advancement and morale flourished throughout the land. While the US census reported for the first time in history that more Americans lived in urban areas than rural ones, the wave of sweeping social and economic growth grew exponentially with the ratification of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote. More than a million women worked in white-collar jobs while the automobile industry nearly doubled. This vibrant time grew even more brilliant on December 30, 1926, in Burlington, Iowa, as Harry and Dorothy (Tenhaaf) Dideriksen welcomed their twin daughters, Dorothy and Doris, into their hearts and home.
The oldest of the twins, Dot, grew up in the good company of her baby brother, Bob, and her first and forever friend, Doris. Dot’s early years were rich in family values, including hard work on their family farm in Burlington, Iowa. Dot was always proud of her Burlington roots and the rich history she was born into. Beautifully built on the elevated west side of the muddy Mississippi River, the bustling river port was, and continues to be, an important hub for the transportation and manufacturing industries.
Dot and her family moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, when Dot was in her young teen years. She attended Kalamazoo Central High School, where her sports skills led to playing on the school’s softball and basketball teams and enjoyed tap-dancing with her sister. Outgoing and good-natured, Dot was a friend magnet. She enjoyed a robust social life and made friends wherever she went. Surrounded by many friends, including her sister, Doris, Dot proudly graduated with the class of 1944.
In time, Dot met her first husband, John Hoffman, while working at the Upjohn Company. The young couple dated, fell in love, and married on August 6, 1949. Dot and John were thrilled to begin their family and soon welcomed their first child, Johnnie. Tragically, Johnnie passed away at 11 months of age from leukemia. While their hearts were indescribably broken, their loss was softened by the births of three more children. Jim, Deb, and Joan quickly became the centers of Dot’s world; she relished being their mother and dedicated herself to creating a loving and supportive home. Dot gave her children more than life; she gave them unwavering love, steadfast faith, and a powerful role model for how to live a wholehearted life. Though Dot’s and John’s marriage ended in divorce after 30 years, the two remained close and continued to share their gratitude for and commitment to the family they were blessed to share including grandchildren.
Never one to sit still or ignore an opportunity to give to others, Dot was always on the move. For over 30 years, she was honored and pleased to work as a tour guide at the Upjohn Company. With signature style and grace, she wore her uniform well, knew most of the workers, ensured every tour participant’s time was valued, and “enjoyed every day.” After retiring from her work at Upjohn, Dot worked for 20 years at Double Exposure. She also volunteered at Michigan Center for the Blind, Ministry with Community, and Animals Best Friend. Dot enjoyed attending movies with the blind and helping explain what was happening, and learning from their experiences. She also enjoyed taking them shopping.
In 1997, Dot was gifted with the honor of marrying Jim Shillito and welcoming his three children: Jan, Judy and John into her heart. The happy couple shared 20 wonderful years together cruising the seas, traveling by bus to Branson, Missouri, volunteering together at the Michigan Center for the Blind and Ministry with Community, sharing time with Dot’s family, and enjoying their cat Lucky. Though saddened by Jim’s death in 2017, Dot was forever grateful for the joy she was blessed to share with him.
A woman who found the blessings in every moment, Dot’s interests were broad. She loved tending to her yard gardens. Her careful mowing of the lawn, weeding, pruning, and planting always proved delightful ways to spend her time, and her labors resulted in abundant beauty that could easily have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. Her attention to detail and classic style was evident in her well-coordinated outfits, which always included matching shoes and impeccable makeup. As she never sat long enough to read books, Dot preferred flower magazines and listening to country and western music, especially the classic work of Kenny Rogers and Randy Travis. She loved hosting holidays and special events at her home, organizing two neighborhood garage sales a year. Dot danced with abandon, enjoyed bowling, and believed even the worst day could be bettered by eating peanut butter and crackers. She also loved Vegas trips with friends Margie and her kids, volunteering with Bonnie, and sharing over 40 years with her hairdresser, Roger Snow. Though Dot acted like she did not care, those who knew her best fondly recognized she loved to be the center of attention. Dot typically ate by grazing throughout the day, but she loved going out to eat at Olive Garden, Finley’s, Mountain Jack’s, and local greasy spoons, where she traditionally ate half her meal and saved the other half for later.
In addition to her beloved children and their families, Dot’s cat, Lucky, and dog, Blue, were her faithful companions. She also shared a wonderful friendship with Don Reeves. She and Don first shared a best friendship when they were 18 years old and reconnected after both their spouses passed. Neighbors at Heritage Community, Dot and Don enjoyed many treasured moments together, which proved a deep comfort, especially in the face of the challenges dementia imposed on Dot’s well-being. Dot was also blessed to receive compassionate care from the staff at Beacon Pointe in Portage during her final months.
Without a doubt, it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Dot’s vibrant presence. Though she will be deeply missed, we will find comfort in our many treasured memories and granting her wish “...that as you mourn my passing that you will take time to count your blessings and thank God for his gifts.” We will also find comfort in the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward. With each moment we welcome a stranger as a friend, don our best bling, give of our talents, and encourage our loved one’s dreams, we celebrate the many ways Dot gifted the world. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us. May the Lord above treasure this addition to the Field of Angles.
Sadly, Dot’s family is announcing the passing of their mother, Dorothy Hoffman Shillito, of Portage, on July 1, 2021, with her family at her side. She was preceded in death by her first husband, John Hoffman; infant son, Johnnie, second husband, Jim Shillito; brother, Bob Dideriksen; twin-sister, Doris Fagan; son-in-law Buster Baird. Surviving are 3 children: Jim (Dorotha) Hoffman, Deb Baird (Steve Newton) and Joan (Bob) Lajiness; 3 step-children: Jan, Judy, and John Shillito; 3 grandchildren: Jason Hoffman and his children: Mikaylee and Addison; Jon (Shellby) Hoffman and their children: Izaiah and Eian; Nicole Baird (Mark Newton) and her daughter, Willow; and several step-grand and great-grandchildren. The family would like to acknowledge the spiritual care that they received from Chaplain Blessed. Please join us for a Life Story Service on Tuesday (JULY 6) 11 AM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 followed by a reception in the Life Story Center. Private burial at Mt. Ever Rest Memorial Park. Visit Dot’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign her guestbook. In addition to flowers, memorial contributions may be to Dementia Society of America or Animals Best Friend.