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Dorothy Reimer - August 17, 2011


Longtime civic leader and philanthropist Dorothy Mae Reimer died Aug. 17, 2011 in a hospice program at the Clare Bridge Memory Care Facility in Highlands Ranch, following a long illness.

A memorial service will be held Thursday, Aug. 25, at 3 p.m. at the Phillips County Event Center. The family invites Dorothy’s friends to join them at 5 p.m. for a celebration of her life, also at the Event Center.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Assn. of America, c/o Gerk Funeral Home.

Dorothy was born May 27, 1922, in Madrid, Neb. to Leslie L. and Grace E. Kunkel as the eldest of four daughters: Virginia (Jerome), Marjorie (Giles) and Norma (Warren). When Dorothy was 10, her family moved to Holyoke, where her father became the town’s pharmacist and eventually served 28 years as Holyoke’s mayor.
Dorothy graduated from Holyoke High School in 1939 and attended the University of Nebraska in September of 1941. Following the outbreak of World War II in December of that year, she withdrew from the university to marry Charles Dale Reimer, also of Holyoke.

They were married in her parents’ living room Jan.11, 1942. Dorothy accompanied Dale early in the war, but returned to Holyoke after he was deployed to Alaska in 1943.

The couple settled in Holyoke after the war, and Dale began working for his father at Reimer-Smith Grain Company.

Dorothy and Dale had three children: Drew, Dean and Diane, all of whom also graduated from Holyoke High School. She volunteered for many activities for the schools and for the United Methodist Church, including starting a youth choir that she directed for many years during the ’60s and ’70s.

After her children left home, Dorothy completed her own education, earning an Associate of Arts degree from Northeastern Junior College. She later served on the NJC Foundation Board for several years.

Dorothy’s deep involvement in the life of the community spanned more than six decades. She was the first woman elected to the City Council, where she served four terms (1974-86 and 1996-2000), including a stint as Acting Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. Dorothy was an enthusiastic supporter of progress and encouraged women to assume leadership roles in the community.

As firm believers in education and opportunity, Dorothy and Dale established the Reimer Family Trust Scholarship to assist deserving Holyoke High School graduates to attend college. After Dale’s death and in recognition of their shared love of baseball, she helped launch the high school’s baseball program with a significant contribution to purchase uniforms and equipment. She remained an avid Rockies fan until her death.

Perhaps Dorothy’s most significant contributions resulted from her love of the arts and her determination to bring the arts to Holyoke. When the new high school was built in 1976, Dorothy petitioned the school board to allow the school’s new Heginbotham Auditorium to be used by the entire community. When the school board agreed, the Holyoke Community Arts Council was born; Dorothy was elected its first president and served for two decades on its board.

In 1985, she and Dale helped establish the Holyoke Arts Charitable Trust with a substantial donation to ensure the future viability of Holyoke’s arts program.

Dorothy was a driving force for the success of the Peerless Theatre/Center project, which she counted as her proudest community achievement. She solicited major contributions, and when the project looked like it would run short on funds, she personally donated 320 acres of farm land that became the catalyst to raise the additional funds needed.

She wanted the Peerless Center to serve not only as a movie theatre but also as a performing arts center and a place where the community could meet and youth could socialize. For her tireless dedication to this project, Dorothy was honored by the Golden Plains Recreation Center and was nominated for the prestigious Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

In 2000, Beta Sigma Phi International, a sorority dedicated to the social, cultural and civic enrichment of communities, selected Dorothy as its “Woman of the Year.” She continued to serve the community into her 80s, serving several years on the Melissa Memorial Hospital Foundation board.

Dorothy had a passion for traveling with family and friends. Her other interests included music and dance in all forms, bridge, swimming and, in her earlier days, bowling, golf and tennis.

In her last decade, Dorothy suffered progressive health problems, which restricted her activities. But she remained a friend to all and an inspiration to many, and she never stopped supporting worthy causes and individuals in need. She will be greatly missed by her loving family and the entire community.

She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 46 years, Dale Reimer; her parents, Leslie and Grace Kunkel; and her sister, Marjorie Giles.

Dorothy is survived by her children, Drew Reimer of Centennial, Dean and Cheryl Reimer of Greeley and James and Diane Reimer Bean of Bethesda, Md.; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, all living in Colorado; two sisters in Holyoke, Virginia Jerome and Norma Warren; and many nieces, nephews and their children.

Cremation was chosen, and Dorothy will be inurned next to Dale at Holyoke Cemetery in a private ceremony in the near future. Gerk Funeral Home is handling arrangements.