Born in 1926, Dorothy May Rue grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, in the town of Valley Park, where she lived with her parents and five siblings. As an adolescent, Dorothy led a protest against the local public pool’s refusal to allow African American children to swim. She also worked nights as a telephone operator during high school—managing the switch board, sounding the fire alarm in case of a fire, and calling a doctor should someone ring with a medical emergency. In 1944, she moved to Columbia to attend the University of Missouri, where she became an arts and sciences student and joined the social work club. During her first year of college, Dorothy lived with a local pastor's family, serving as their nanny, after which she spent two years living in an all-girls housing co-op called Templecrone. While at the University of Missouri, she met her husband, James D. Sears, who was then a graduate student in forestry. They married in October 1947 at Jim’s fraternity house, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and continued to live in Columbia while Jim worked for the state. Several years later, when Jim joined the National Park Service, the couple moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they lived from 1950 to 1954 and where their first child, a daughter named Jamie, was born. While in Santa Fe, Dorothy volunteered as a Girl Scout troop leader and as the founding director of the local youth center. She also worked as a secretary for the city’s Republican Party, and her photo even appeared on one of their advertisements—something Dorothy found quite amusing, because she was a staunch Democrat! When Jim took a job with the U.S. Forest Service, the family moved to California, spending two years in North Fork, a small town on the edge of the Sierra National Forest, where Jim and Dorothy's son Chris was born. In 1956, Jim was transferred to Placerville, where the family lived briefly, before moving to the Bay Area and purchasing a home in Walnut Creek. In 1959, Dorothy gave birth to the couple's third child, a son named Matthew.
During the early 1960s, Dorothy served as the director of religious education at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek, and in the 1970s, she worked at Bernard’s Antique Store downtown. She developed a keen eye for antiques and would make extra money by scanning the classified ads for furniture and décor that she could snap up cheap and sell later for a profit. Dorothy was also active in her children’s schools, once turning stock from the Army Navy Surplus store into (disconcertingly realistic) Nazi uniforms for a Las Lomas High School production of The Sound of Music. In the 1980s, she and Jim spent six months in living in Washington, D.C., where Dorothy found the humidity almost unbearable. Soon Jim retired, and the two enjoyed spending time with their children and grandchildren. Jim passed away in 2001. Dorothy continued to spend time with her family, watching her granddaughters’ plays, attending her grandchildren’s graduations, and participating in family holidays, until her health made such outings impossible. Her passions included antiques, dollhouses, reading, and the Kennedys. She passed away on September 25 after a long illness.
Dorothy is survived by her three children, seven grandchildren, brother Harold, and sisters Barbara and Mildred.