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Dorothy Irene McClenahan “Dottie” Smith, aged 86, passed away July 27, 2022, in El Paso. Dottie was born in Brooklyn on April 18, 1936, to William James McClenahan and Irene Schweizer McClenahan. When Dottie was 15, the family moved to El Paso, where Dottie became a proud graduate of Austin High School, Class of 1954. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Texas State College for Women (now TWU) in Denton, followed many years later by a master’s degree from Lesley University in Massachusetts. In 1959 she married Army officer Peter Tuttle Smith. The couple’s hoped-for transition to civilian life was put on hold when Pete was recalled to active duty as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. During those anxious days, Dottie raised the couple’s first two daughters, Linda and Nancy, practically on her own. Once Pete was safely home, and daughter Laura had arrived, Dottie began a long and distinguished career as a business teacher in the El Paso schools, first at Bowie High and then at Coronado and Tech. Generations of students—especially those who struggled in school—remember “Mrs. Smith” as the kindest and most patient teacher they ever had. She was recognized as Teacher of the Year and made lifelong friends among her fellow educators. At Christmastime of 1982, when arson nearly destroyed the family's home, Dottie took the cash donated to the family by her students and friends and "paid it forward" through a gift of coats and blankets to Operation Noel. Dottie and Pete were longtime members of Western Hills Methodist Church, and Dottie enjoyed long memberships in the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) and the Dedon Verde Garden Club. Dottie is preceded in death by her parents and by Pete. She is survived by her beloved sister, Margie Melby, also of El Paso; her three children, Linda Lea (Leach) of El Paso, Nancy Anne (Wilson) of Nashville, TN, and Laura Lee (Leslie), of El Paso; grateful sons-in-law Jonathan Leach, Glenn Wilson, and Paul Leslie; and seven grandchildren whom she spoiled and adored: Stuart Leach and Peter Leach; Will Licon, Michael Licon, and Elizabeth Licon; and Claire Leslie and Emma Leslie. Also left to mourn are nieces Kristen Weaver and husband Ron, of Austin, TX, and Elizabeth Ruhmann and husband Chuck, of El Paso. Throughout her life, Dottie showed us what it means to love unconditionally. The family extends heartfelt thanks to Jacob Boggs, Robin Owen, and their colleagues at The Legacy at Cimarron; Dottie’s tireless and compassionate caregivers at Golden Park Adult Foster Care; and the staff of Three Oaks Hospice, especially Imelda Wallace, Dr. Dwayne and Michelle Aboud and Chaplain Victor Diaz, who eased Dottie’s final days. A service of remembrance for Dottie will take place on Friday, August 26th, at 3:00 PM, at Western Hills United Methodist Church. All are welcome. Services are entrusted to Sunset Funeral Home-West.
Friday, August 26, 2022
Starts at 3:00pm (Mountain time)
Western Hills Methodist Church
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