Dorothy Jean Whittaker, age 76, originally from Hialeah, Florida, passed away on December 7, 2023, in Cape Coral, Florida.
Dorothy was born in Miami, Florida to John L. Watson and Irvene H. (Bell) Watson on October 12, 1947, and grew up in Hialeah, Florida. Dorothy graduated from Hialeah High School in 1965. She then attended Miami Dade Community College from 1965 to 1967. Her undergraduate Alma Mater was Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida for which she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Education in 1969. She also attended Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida receiving her Master’s Degree. Dorothy married Richard Patrick (Pat) Whittaker on January 25, 1969, and they have been married for 54 years. Dorothy and Pat moved to Ft. Myers, Florida in 1970.
Dorothy was an employee of the School District of Lee County, Florida for almost 50 years. Her career began in 1971 where she worked for Orange River Elementary School in Ft. Myers, Florida where she was a first grade teacher. During her employment there she met a woman who became her peer, but more importantly a life-long dear friend named Phyllis Hemphill. Phyllis and her daughter Lisa became members of the family from that point on.
In the 1980s Dorothy worked for Caloosa Elementary School in Cape Coral, Florida as a teacher before going back to Orange River Elementary School where she became an assistant principal and then being promoted to principal from 1998 to 2004. Dorothy completed her career at Ray V. Pottorf Elementary School in Ft. Myers, Florida as principal from 2004 until her retirement in 2018.
Though receiving multiple accolades throughout her career, one was particularly exceptional in the late 1990’s as her school was recognized by Lawton Childs, who was the Governor of Florida at the time. He recognized her school as receiving one of the highest standardized test scores in the state.
Through the years, Dorothy enjoyed going to play bingo with expert precision, and playing her computer games. For many years, she participated on a bowling league with her husband Pat and was an MVP softball player in the 1970s and 1980s. After retiring from the school system in 2018, Dorothy became a caregiver for her husband Pat, and enjoyed spending time with her brother Tim, nephew Chris, her grandsons Brandon, Bryson and Finley, and her beloved daughter-in-law, Holly, whom she loved like her own daughter. Dorothy also spent a lot of time with her dear friend Didie Homan whom she met in high school, and they remained lifelong friends/family.
Dorothy will be remembered for her unending love for her family and all who she influenced in her 76 years of life. She was relentless in her quest to help her family, friends, and all the students she taught and mentored during her educational career.
Dorothy is preceded in death by her mother; Irvene H. Watson; father, John L. Watson; brother, Lee Watson; sisters, Shirley Watson and Joy Kotz.
Dorothy is survived by her husband; Richard Whittaker; son, Brian Whittaker; grandsons, Brandon, Bryson, and Finley; sister, Sheryl Vanderpol; brother, John (Tim) Watson; and her beloved Bella the Shih Tzu.
A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, January 3, 2024 at 3:00PM at Ortona Cemetery, 8878 FL-78, Moore Haven, FL 3347.