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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Obituary - Dorothy Mae Smith Durbin

Dorothy Mae Smith Durbin was born on 14 November 1943 to George Nelson and Gertrude Ellington Smith. The fourth of four children, her family were indentured farmers at the time of her birth in Pettis county, MO to the Howard Farms, later Howard Quarries. In 1957 her Fathers employment with the Missouri Public Service company brought them to Adrian, where she finished high school as a member of the High School band, playing percussion, and met the love of her life Donald Lee Durbin.

Married to “Donnie” in 1963, Three children were born to them, Mark Leslie, Michael George, and Allen Lee.

She passed into the next realm on 20 November 2020. She was 77.

Dorothy studied Nursing at the University of Missouri Kansas City. She helped manage her Brother in Law Robert Durbin’ Western auto store on main street for many years, and then went to work as a Nurse’s Aide at the new Adrian Manor Nursing home, caring for our communities most precious treasure.

Later she went to work at Bates County Memorial Hospital, retiring with 25 years’ service in 2005

​She worked many years in the maternity ward, scrubbing in and being the first human touch besides the mother for hundreds of now adult Bates county babies, and providing comfort and reassurance to countless new parents. She loved her position, and when she could no longer do it well due to age and infirmity, she was placed as the emergency room ward clerk, where her compassion, professionalism, and infectious laughter provided solace to emergency room patients and their families. Many people have told me that they would go to another hospital if “Happy Dorothy “wasn’t on duty at the Emergency Room.

​ Over her years of service, she became famous for her ability to put nervous young mothers and angry impatient fathers at ease while they waited anxiously for the doctor to come back from treating their child. She truly embodied “angel of mercy” to hundreds of Bates county residents.

During her children’s school age years, Dorothy was very active and involved with the Adrian United Methodist Church, teaching Sunday school, and facilitating Vacation Bible school. She was well known for enabling and chaperoning youth activities that touched the entire community, and lead the charge that resulted in the Adrian UMC beloved “Kiva”, a youth retreatborn out of an abandoned church basement, with music, snacks,activities, and supervision for many fun filled late nights after ball games.

She very much loved providing logistical support for out of town trips and concert tours of the incredibly talented youth of the Adrian Community and Adrian UMC when they took their musicals on the road, and purchased the first drum set owned by the church.

She was also very active as a Den Mother, Committee member, and district executive for the Boy scouts of America troop 238, and the Lone Bear district. For several years she was the lead coordinator for District Cub Scout day camp, moving it to Adrian for those years and putting Adrian’s troop and pack back on the map at the district level, serving cub scouts from Warrensburg to Butler.

At the county council level, she enabled her sons service on the youth 4H county council, youth fair board, and was selected by the County Fair Board with Rosie Brooks, a dear family friend, to invent and create the long running fan and participant favorite “Purt Near anything goes”, a county fair tradition that continues to this day in Bates county, and several other counties that adopted the idea.

“Purt Near” was an example of speech idioms that distinguished Dorothy’s speech to anyone who knew her well. Calling it her “Sedalia Twang”, it provided another endearing facet of her bubbling effusive personality that was loved by all, unless they were the subject of her sometimes piercing, candid criticism, for which she was also well known.

Her mastery of English and typing was the only mechanism her sons had for success with semester papers, district science fair entries, and 4H and FFA speeches. She worked many very late nights, saving their sons from themselves due to procrastination, pounding away on a manual typewriter. This work ethic and attention to detail is the foundation of her son’s successes to this day.

She was President of the Adrian Chapter of the Parents Teachers Association, and then later Parents Teachers Organization. Her able-bodied sons worked many late nights at her direction, setting up for and tearing down the annual PTA “Fun Night”. These memories would become some of the best years of her sons lives and prodded them towards a lifetime of public service.

The classmates and friends of all her sons will tell you that the “Durbin Farm” was place where they could walk in without knocking, rifle thru the refrigerator without asking, find a helping hand, good advice, and a kind ear, and also a merciless, but humorous hard time as well. Many of the seasonal parties she put on for her son’s classes for Halloween, birthdays, and end of the school year are legendary to this day.

She loved to bowl, she was a state ranked Fred Broski tour bowler, travelling out of state on numerous occasions, gathering dozens of trophies, and maintaining her strength thru the late 70’s.

She also coached youth bowling teams and was famous for her solicitation of sponsorships from hapless main street businesses that she set her sights on.

She never met a stranger, and her extended by marriage step grandchildren cherished her as much as she cherished them, accepting them as her own, and lavishing love and attention on them from the first day.

After retirement, with her Dear friend Patsy Withrow, she delighted in taking her grandchildren on shopping sprees and trips to as far as Disney world, and as close as a twice a year or more trip to Silver Dollar City. Dorothy and Patsy went to Albuquerque for the balloon fiesta several times, visiting her mother’s family while down there. She Volunteered at the Adrian Manor as activity director, at the Adrian Community Library as a librarian and story time volunteer. Dorothy taught adult bible study at the Adrian UMC in honor of her Mother.She was a fixture at the Raging Lion and Adrian Mercantile for decades at frontier village.

Everything she touched had her special mark on it, which is why she is so dearly missed, and fondly remembered.

Her mastery of College level English enabled her to succeed, while the ever present “Sedalia Twang” made her approachable and beloved by Adrian Manor residents, Hospital Patients, library patrons, and her fellow students of the word of God. She would often receive an almost embarrassing ribbing from almost everyone in town, and always gave as good as she got. She loved passing barbs with anyone who started it, and many who never saw it coming.

​She was a serial Giver; her favorite pastime was shopping for other people. We are still trying to figure out what she had planned when she passed from this world. She went to bed that night happy, planning the next day, the next week, and the next year. She was the same age as her older sister when she went to her reward, and as her father when he passed, with her at his bedside. I will never forget the absolute adoration and love on her face as she watched her father decline and finally take his last breath.

​She was preceded in Death by a son, Michael George, A Granddaughter Candace Dawn, Both brothers Nelson and Theodore “Ted”, her parents George and Gertrude, and her Sister Viola Ruth Devore. She was survived by her Husband, Donnie, her sons Mark and Allen, and her dear friend Patsy Withrow, who followed her into paradise only 10 days later. She has dozens of beloved grandchildren and great grandchildren, that she never wanted to leave, and were her greatest joy in life.

The family solicits contributions in her honor to the United Methodist Church for the benefit of VBS, and the Adrian Community Library, two of her enduring life works.

Her celebration of life will be held at Graveside, the 7th of May at Crescent hill cemetery. A family reception will be held immediately after at the United Methodist Church of Adrian MO.