DAVIS, CALIF. And MOUNT DESERT —Dorothy Kirk Morrison, 86, passed away peacefully July 28, 2014, in Davis, Calif., surrounded by her family, after a courageous struggle with lung cancer. The family is grateful to Yolo Hospice and Spanish Bay for the care and support she received during her final illness.
Dot was born Oct. 19, 1927, in Bar Harbor to G. Harold Kirk and Helen (Yeaton) Kirk. She grew up in Bar Harbor and attended Bar Harbor High School; her childhood summers were spent with her parents and brother, Bill, at their camp on Long Pond. She went to Boston in 1945 to attend Wheelock College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in education.
In Boston, she met and married Joseph Nowell, a Navy veteran and engineering student at MIT. They lived in Canton, Mass., and had two daughters, Lisa and Kate. They divorced in 1962. In 1966, Dot married Howard Morrison, and continued to live in Canton. She taught elementary school in Sharon, Mass., and was often assigned students with learning disabilities, of whom she was especially fond; fifty years later she could remember many of them and their individual stories. In these years she continued to take classes in education and literature, and was an active member of the Informal Players, a local theater group. She also made time to take her daughters to civil rights marches in Boston. She led an active social life with friends from Canton, Boston, and Bar Harbor, and saw and heard many of the great jazz musicians of the mid-20th century.
In 1983, she retired from teaching and moved to Phoenix, Ariz., where she took a job working for the Arizona state legislature as a legislative proofreader. She and Mr. Morrison divorced in 1983. In these years she enjoyed reading, cross-stitch, swimming, travel, visiting her daughters’ families in California and attending jazz concerts and festivals, in the 1990s, often with companion Bob Stine. In the early 1990s, she took a leave of absence from her job with the legislature to move back for a year to Bar Harbor to care for her mother.
In 2002, she retired again and moved to Davis, Calif., to be near her daughter, Lisa. There she relaxed into a life of reading, crossword puzzles, listening to music and visiting with her daughters’ families in Davis and Santa Cruz. She attended many West Coast jazz festivals, until health problems decreased her mobility. Throughout most of her life, she continued to make yearly visits with her family to Bar Harbor and Long Pond.
She was predeceased by her parents, Helen and Harold Kirk; daughter, Kate Nowell Bunting; niece and godchild, Carrie Lynn Kirk; aunts, Gertrude Whitmore and Charlotte Buff; and ex-husband, Joe Nowell. She is survived by her daughter, Lisa Nowell, son-in-law, Stan Robinson, and grandsons David and Tim Robinson of Davis, Calif.; son-in-law, Denis Bunting and grandson, Chris Bunting, of Santa Cruz, Calif.; grandson, Jim Bunting and his wife, Briganne, of Charlottesville, Va.; brother, Bill Kirk and his wife, Mary Jane of Waldwick, N.J.; nephew, Bill Kirk Jr. of Arlington, Va.; niece, Alyson Kirk of Waldwick, N.J.; and cousins, Pat Haskins of Kansas City, Mo., Joe Kirk and his wife, Nada, of Port Clyde, and Betty Kirk of Orlando, Fla. She will be greatly missed by all her family and friends, and remembered for her good humor, incredible memory, devotion to her grandchildren, commitment to social justice, courage and resilience in the face of blindness and illness, and her lifelong love and enthusiasm for reading, jazz and live music and her family.
A memorial service will be held in the chapel of St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church on 41 Mt. Desert Street, Bar Harbor, at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 21, followed by a graveside interment at the family plot in Ledgelawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Yolo Hospice, 1909 Galileo Ct., Davis, CA 95618; National Library Service for the Blind, 1291 Taylor St., NW, Washington, DC 20542; or St. Joseph’s Indian School, P.O. Box 300, Chamberlain, SD 57325. Those who wish to sign the guestbook online may do so at www.wiscombefuneral.com.