Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Jean Anne Blum Turner Doty, 1923-2012: Teacher was also an artist, dairy farmer

MONROE — Jean Anne Blum Turner Doty, widowed and remarried by age 24, who was a full working partner in the family dairy farm, and, at 52, became an elementary schoolteacher, died Saturday in Tecumseh Place II, an assisted living facility in Tecumseh, Mich. She was 89.

She had Alzheimer's disease for more than a decade, her daughter, Holly, said.

Mrs. Doty had multiple careers, but she retired from the workplace — 13 years as a second and third-grade teacher at Ida Elementary School — in 1987. “My mother was very outgoing, and she enjoyed the camaraderie of the other teachers, and the professionalism," her daughter said.

Mrs. Doty was calm and soft spoken, recalled Merylyn Peake, who also taught second and third grades at the school.

"Everybody liked her," Mrs. Peake said. "She was always happy and liked to tell a joke, and the kids loved her.’’

She was born May 13, 1923, in Monroe to Helen and George Armstrong Blum. She was a 1942 graduate of Monroe High School, where she played clarinet in the marching band. World War II had begun, and she went to work at the Willow Run bomber plant near Ypsilanti, Mich. Her job was to make sure that each plane received the correct manual for its specifications.

She married Ralph Turner, her high school sweetheart, on Oct. 1, 1943, after which the couple moved to California, where her husband was stationed in the Navy. He was killed in October, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines — a month after the birth of his daughter, Holly.

"For many women of the era, it was very difficult, especially when their husbands didn't come home, but she came from a large, loving, supportive family," their daughter said.

The young widow's sisters Ruth and Mary Lou traveled to California to accompany her and Holly on the long drive home. She and her sister Ruth, whose husband also died, lived together in Monroe. Her sister went to work as a nurse, while she cared for her daughter and her sister's sons.

She met an Army Air Corps veteran after the war, Robert Doty, and the couple married Nov. 8, 1946. Mr. Doty worked at Detroit Stoker in Monroe; the couple saved, and they bought a farm in Raisinville Township. She was a mother and homemaker — and a working partner on their dairy farm. She grew up in the city, but "she was real smart, and she learned," her daughter said. "She was very talented, she was a good artist, and could do about anything."

She drove a tractor; she grew a garden; she was a seamstress. She was a 4-H Club leader and taught women to sew. She and her husband also were members of the Monroe County Fair Association.

"She always had this artistic bent, and she started first dabbling at teaching by being a teacher's aide in the Ida public schools," her daughter said. "That showed her how much she loved being with the children."

Mrs. Doty took courses at Monroe County Community College and received a bachelor's degree from Eastern Michigan University. She was 52 when she started to teach.

In retirement, she and her husband traveled the world and spent winters in Bradenton, Fla.

Surviving are her husband, Robert Doty, whom she married Nov. 8, 1946; daughter, Holly Lynn Turner Doty Becker; sons, Guy Jeffrey Doty and Drew Doty; sisters, Mary Lou Tatlock and Nancy Heiss; brothers, Richard and Loren Blum; eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in the Bacarella Funeral Home, Monroe.

The family suggests tributes to St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Monroe, or Tecumseh Place II, Tecumseh, to benefit the staff.

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