Dorothy J. “Dottie” Whittaker (October 12, 1947 - December 07, 2023)

In loving memory of
Dorothy J. “Dottie” Whittaker
  • October 12, 1947
  • -
  • December 07, 2023

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Obituary

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.


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Tribute Wall

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  1. Vicki Parks lit a candle:
    05 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 5, 2024 at 1:40:38 AM

  2. Alexis Camputaro lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:29:45 PM

  3. Kelli Hatley (Decker) lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:28:19 PM

  4. Christina Biasiello lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:47:05 PM

  5. Judy Knizner lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:40:33 PM

  6. Judy Knizner says:
    04 Jan 2024
    Dottie was an inspiration to me and many other teachers who were lucky enough to open a new school in Lee County. She will be deeply missed by me and my prayers are for her family.

  7. Linda Bigley lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:40:31 PM

  8. Sheryl Vanderpol posted an image:
    04 Jan 2024
    Dottie with sister's Joy and Sheryl and our mom.
    Dottie with sister's Joy and Sheryl and our mom.

  9. Sheryl Vanderpol posted an image:
    04 Jan 2024
    Dottie with sister's Joy and Sheryl and our mom Irvene aka Granny or Susie
    Dottie with sister's Joy and Sheryl and our mom Irvene aka Granny or Susie

  10. Sheryl Vanderpol posted an image:
    04 Jan 2024
    Dottie with Grandsons Brandon, Bryson and Finley. Photo provided by Holly Whittaker
    Dottie with Grandsons Brandon, Bryson and Finley. Photo provided by Holly Whittaker

  11. Christine White lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:29:52 PM

  12. Marcy Garvey lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:24:56 PM

  13. Mellixa Tucker lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:19:10 PM

  14. Stephanie Tirino lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:59:54 PM

  15. Stacie Williams lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:21:31 PM

  16. Jeneane Nichols lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:39:11 PM

  17. Joanna Sausa lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:25:01 PM

  18. Ida Gibbs lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:50:46 PM

  19. Mary McCloud lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:26:56 PM

  20. Michelle Pescatrice says:
    04 Jan 2024
    Dottie was an incredible role model for me as a new principal. I admired her tenacity and guidance.

  21. Susan Gensler lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:53:24 PM

  22. Dawn Bernadin says:
    04 Jan 2024
    Dottie was instrumental in shaping my career along with so many others. She inspired me to be honest and not make excuses. "It is what it is" she'd say. Then it was time to fix whatever needed to be fixed. She passed along so much knowledge and I will forever be grateful for that. Rest in peace!

  23. Dawn Bernadin lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:38:06 PM

  24. Jennifer Johnson says:
    04 Jan 2024
    I truly enjoyed working for Dottie. I always knew where I stood and she was always honest with me whether it was good or bad news. She didn’t play games and I respected her so much for that. RIP Dottie.

  25. Sondra Sullivan-Best says:
    04 Jan 2024
    Dottie, you were influential in my career. You held high standards for yourself and others. You showed love and commitment to the children you served. Thank you for all you did for us all!

  26. Sondra Sullivan-Best lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:49:41 AM

  27. Sondra Sullivan-Best lit a candle:
    04 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 4, 2024 at 1:48:47 AM

  28. Sheryl Vanderpol posted an image:
    03 Jan 2024
    Dottie
    Dottie

  29. Sheryl Vanderpol posted an image:
    03 Jan 2024
    Dottie graduation
    Dottie graduation

  30. Sheryl Vanderpol posted an image:
    03 Jan 2024
    Picture of Dottie
    Picture of Dottie

  31. Mary Claytor lit a candle:
    03 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 3, 2024 at 1:55:05 PM

  32. Brian Yaughn lit a candle:
    03 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 3, 2024 at 1:43:35 PM

  33. Brian Yaughn lit a candle:
    03 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 3, 2024 at 1:42:11 PM

  34. Joanne Sands posted an image:
    03 Jan 2024
    Our last day out together. What a fun day!
    Our last day out together. What a fun day!

  35. Joanne Sands says:
    03 Jan 2024
    Love and miss you, my friend. Sent you a blue candle because that’s how I feel without my best friend here.

  36. Joanne {Jo Jo] Sands lit a candle:
    03 Jan 2024
    Lit since January 3, 2024 at 1:22:57 PM

  37. Dawna Kelly says:
    02 Jan 2024
    Sheryl and family so sorry for your loss. My Deepest Sympathy to all of the family!



    John and Dawna Kelly
    Tampa, Florida

  38. Sheryl Vanderpol posted an image:
    02 Jan 2024
    Dottie with Bella and grandsons Brandon and Bryson - photo provided by Holly Whittaker
    Dottie with Bella and grandsons Brandon and Bryson - photo provided by Holly Whittaker

  39. Sheryl Vanderpol posted an image:
    02 Jan 2024
    Photo of Dottie and Bella - Photo provided by Phyllis and Lisa Hemphill
    Photo of Dottie and Bella - Photo provided by Phyllis and Lisa Hemphill

  40. Sheryl Vanderpol posted an image:
    02 Jan 2024


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