Harbor stalwart Dorothy Mann dies at 106

Longtime community servant was Daily World citizen of the year in 1995

“Former florist and caterer Dorothy Mann also decorates lives.”

So began an April 22, 1995, Daily World article announcing Mann as Citizen of the Year “for her years of volunteer service, especially at Grays Harbor Community Hospital’s Long-term Care nursing home and with the widows group she formed about 20 years ago.”

Overnight Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, Mann passed away at 106.

“She was an institution and catered more parties than anyone I know,” wrote local businessman Jack Durney, noting that Mann was the last living member of the Weatherwax High School class of 1928 — Durney’s mother was also part of that class. “Her baseball cap should be placed in the Aberdeen museum.”

The widows group grew out of a gathering of women in the area to socialize and celebrate birthday parties. When Mann lost her own husband, the group became a place where the widowed women could support one another. In 1995, the group consisted of more than 150 members and most would meet monthly for a dinner and program at Granny’s Buffet in Aberdeen, arranged and decorated, of course, by Mann.

In 1995, Mann told The Daily World she didn’t set out to be a good Samaritan but enjoyed being out in the community and helping out. “Some people are just hermits; not me. I like people. I guess I’m just one who likes to get out in the community.” She added, “I’d rather be busy than not.”

Over the years she stopped running the widow’s club, and eventually even stopped playing piano for the seniors. When she turned 100, she was honored with a key to the city, and decided that, after 70 years behind the wheel with a flawless driving record, to give up her driver’s license.

When Mann turned 106, her neice, Teri Daneker, described her aunt in a Daily World story announcing a celebration of her birthday Dec. 12, 2016, at the United Christian Church as, “Very sharp feisty and positive.”

During that talk with a Daily World reporter, Mann reminisced about special events in her life, some as recent as leading the Pledge of Allegiance at one of the first Aberdeen City Council meetings presided over by Mayor Erik Larson; some dating back to shortly after she was born in Kansas. Her family had moved to Elma, then back to Kansas after her two younger brothers — Lynn Daneker and Emory Daneker — had been born in Elma; a move she did not care for. “You can have Kansas,” she told the reporter. Soon they were back on the Harbor and that’s where she remained.

Lynn, another community service stalwart in the region, was awarded Citizen of the Year a few years prior to his sister.

Mann recalled her mother’s seamstress skills, and the fact her husband Raymond would call local square dances, where her mother’s creations were worn. She and Raymond were married in September of 1928 at the state fair.

“I got married in the front of the grandstand. We were the last ones who got married out there,” she said. “We were the featured performance.”

Tributes flooded social media Monday. Beverly Hall wrote, “My mother was also in the class of 1928. My mother stood up with Dorothy when she was married. They walked to school every day together.” Teri Daneker’s daughter, Dayne Rene, wrote, “She did more in one life than 10 people could do together!” Julie Swor wrote, “She will now be up in heaven playing her piano!”

Funeral arrangements are pending.