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Dorothy Simmons McGehee

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East. (Minnie Haskins)

A life of service and a heart of love for all people — a fierce determination to stand steadfast for what is right and fair and good. Her energy as a Girl Scout Leader for six decades, her welcoming of newcomers to Franklin County and love and service to all won her a very special place in the hearts of many people. Though she outlived her contemporaries yet she abounds in friends of all ages and all walks of life.

Dorothy Simmons McGehee passed from this life into the eternal presence of God at 12:10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Dorothy was born on Feb. 26, 1926 in Natchez, Mississippi, to Joseph Edgar Simmons Sr. and Hazel Clark ‘Dorothy’ Simmons. Dorothy had one brother, Joseph Edgar Simmons Jr., a published and celebrated writer and poet, who predeceased her. Dorothy was married to H. B. Mayes McGehee for over 60 years — Mayes preceded her in death.

She is survived by two daughters, Rebecca Alyce McGehee Janes (Cliff) of Monrovia, California, Mary Bryan McGehee Roberts (Joe), Oak Park, California, and two sons William Hollis McGehee (Elaine) of Covington, Louisiana, and H. B. Mayes McGehee Jr. Bowmar (Holly). She is also survived by her eight grandchildren Erin Lewis-Morris, Bryan Edward Roberts, Micajah Mayes McGehee, Jonathon McGehee, Mayes McGehee III, Clark McGehee, Simmons McGehee Copeland and Abbay McGehee and 13 great grandchildren — Riley and Dylan Lewis-Morris, Will, Ireland and Ethan Roberts, Juston, Payton and Jeanie Etheridge, Kylee McGehee, Braden and Braxton McGehee, and Adelyn and Audrey Kate Copeland. She is also survived by her brother’s two children — Jes and Eddy Simmons. She also had an extended family of so many who loved her and she loved you and there is not enough paper here to get all of you down but you are loved and cherished for what you meant to our mother and then a few we have to name — Cerlene Carradine and her family who are all our family, Inez Green, Sue Sullivan for years of loving care and the home health and hospice caregivers who were so intentionally loving and caring.

Dorothy grew up in Natchez with a strong family foundation in Jesus Christ, music, art, and a spirit of service to the world around her. She and her brother Edgar were adventurous, enjoying the Mississippi River and the sights and people of Natchez where she maintained close ties throughout her life. Dorothy worked at Armstrong Tire as a part of the war effort in the early days of World War II and then courageously took the bus alone to Baton Rouge where she went to the LSU Dean of Women and said I want to go to school — I have $50 but I am willing to work — that very night she was rewarded with a place to live, a place to work and entry as a Freshman at Louisiana State University.

Dorothy and Mayes married in 1947 and made their home in Oxford where she worked and Mayes attended and completed the University of Mississippi School of Law. Later they made their home in the house built by Mayes’ grandfather on Railroad Avenue in Bude, Mississippi.

In 1956, the family moved to Meadville where Dorothy lived for the remainder of her life. Dorothy served others her entire life, Bude Methodist, Red Cross and Girl Scouts of America (for more than 60 years). Dorothy was an encourager of people of all ages to be their very best. She was determined to stand up for others in all circumstances — in 1956 Dorothy opposed a local citizen who sought to stop another from voting by seeking to impose a burden on the gentleman intended to disqualify him. Dorothy intervened and insured that this man be allowed to exercise his right to vote. Her determination to oppose wrong and stand for what is right continued to the last day of her life — she was a lifelong stalwart for the human rights of all people. Giving and loving characterized her life as she served in Bude Methodist Church — helped start and staff a school for children with special needs keeping her connections to those students until she finally outlived almost all of them. Her love for flowers found a home throughout her adult life in the Pine Burr/Franklin County Garden Club. She founded and ran her own real estate business for many years — Rainbow Real Estate and she was an advocate for finding and facilitating many in finding and purchasing homes they wanted and needed.

Dorothy adopted Franklin County as her home and she advocated for the good of the county every day of her life. Her efforts were for improvements in education, beautification, growth and economic prosperity — including working hard toward the realization of Lake Okhissa. She worked diligently to see the Franklin County Museum become a reality and to help put together a four-volume history of Franklin County.

Dorothy loved life and lived it fully until just days before her passing. When she could no longer serve as she desired she simply raised her arms and said “God, I am ready when you are.” Yet even in the last hours and days of her life — while she was confined to bed she yet entertained much company and recognized and enjoyed visitors from her earliest days in scouting to young friends more than 70 years her junior. Dorothy S. McGehee lived a life that was full — full of faith, life, family, the arts, public service and love to all. She was ready to go home to Jesus with her family lovingly serving her as her light gently faded with her four children and two daughters-in-law holding her hands and we all said go dear one gently into that good night until we are joined again in Christ Jesus.

Visitation was held Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, from 5 until 8 p.m. at Franklin Funeral Home in Meadville and will also be held Tuesday morning, Oct. 22, 2019, from 10 until 11 a.m. at Bude Methodist Church.

The memorial services for Dorothy S. McGehee will be at Bude Methodist on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at 11 a.m. with Hollis McGehee and Bro. Larry Wallace officiating.

Pallbearers will be Bryan Edward Roberts, Caj McGehee, Jonathon McGehee, Mayes McGehee, Clark McGehee and Eddy Simmons. Honorary pallbearers will be all of her former Girl Scouts, Wade Creekmore, Jimmy Torrey, Cliff Janes, Curtis Whittington, Allen Whittington, Jimmy Simmons, James Claude McGehee, Duncan Stewart McGehee, William Gordon “Tip” McGehee, David Scarbrough, Dylan and Riley Lewis-Morris, Jonathan Simmons, Juston and Payton Etheridge, Kevin Copeland and Jack Hollingsworth.

Burial will be in the McGehee Family plot at Midway Cemetery.