DOWNEY – Dorothy Jane Wells McFall, a former volunteer with local theater groups, passed away July 8 at Washington Township Hospital in Fremont. Born in Chicago on Feb. 14, 1920, she was the daughter of Frank Tracey Wells and Winifred Genevieve Wells. The family moved to Quincy, Ill. when Dorothy was 2 1/2 and her father accepted an executive position with the Gardner-Denver Company.
Dorothy studied dance, cello and piano. She attended Interlochen Music Camp and, after graduating from Quincy High School in 1937, majored in Music at Illinois Wesleyan University, where she pledged SAI Sorority.
She and her husband, Bob Austin, a music scholarship participant, were married in Quincy just after the outbreak of WWII. While her husband served in the Army Air Force, Dorothy, a former candy striper, became a nurses aide at Quincy’s Blessing Hospital and volunteered as a preschool teacher at Madison School after her son, Bob Austin III, was born.
After the war, the family expanded to include two daughters, Kathy Jane and Dorothy-Lynn, and they relocated to a farm on Route 36 near Melrose School.
Following the ice storms of 1950, the family relocated to California, eventually establishing residence in a Downey ranch house. Bob took a job as a salesman with the Baldwin Paino Company, where he would remain until the late 1960s. A third daughter, Donna, was born in Downey.
Dorothy worked as a piano and voice instructor, and became heavily engaged with several stage productions of the Downey Little Theatre. After a divorce in the 1960s, Dorothy returned to college, obtaining her teaching credential from Cal State Long Beach. She later completed her MA degree.
Her first long-term teaching assignment was at a girl’s reform school. She later taught until her retirement at Laurel Elementary in Whittier. She remarried Bob McFall in 1968.
She was predeceased by a son, Johnnie Austin; husband Bob McFall; former husband Bob Austin; and cousins Charlotte Yexley, Marion Shirt and Edith Brown.
She is survived by brother Tracey Wells, daughters Kathy Way, Dorothy Armstrong and Donna Palmberg; son Bob Austin; stepdaughters Patti Ellsworth and Karen Jarand; two nephews; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Berge-Pappas-Smith Chapel of the Angels in Fremont was hosting a celebration of life.
Published: July 17, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 14