It is with a heavy heart that I share that my grandma passed away peacefully on July 10 at the age of 91 in Tomball, Texas, the same small town where her mother passed away 39 years earlier. Grandma lived a full and adventurous life, filled with love, and I was lucky to have her in my life for 36 years starting the day I was born. She was there for me through every major life event – gymnastics meets, graduations, my wedding – but more importantly, she was there for all the days in between. For the mundane things like changing diapers, making macaroni and cheese, and swimming in the pool. She consistently wrote me letters when I was away at college, telling me about the weather, how her garden was doing, and what was happening back home. My grandma was a second mom to me and my sister, a woman who provided a home in which I felt fully comfortable, in whom I had compete trust, and whose love I could always count on. She was truly a guiding light, a calm in every storm, and someone I will miss dearly.
Doris was born in Fulham (west London) in 1928 to Arthur Dewing (a baker) and Ellen Louise (Banton) Dewing. Her early life growing up was very typical of a young, working family in London.
However, on September 1, 1939, two days before war was declared, eleven-year-old Doris Dewing and her eight-year-old brother, Arthur, got on a train leaving London for an unknown destination. They each had a label with their name attached to them, and they each carried a single bag and their gasmask. Their parents joined a throng at the station with questions but got no answers. (There is a book written about this mass evacuation of children from the city to safeguard them from the imminent bombing, called No Time to Wave Goodbye by Ben Wicks.)
They arrived at Saunderton Lee, a small town in Buckinghamshire near Princes Risborough and were billeted with another brother and sister with the Eddles, a country farmer and his wife. There was little consideration for compatibility, and if you had room in your house for four evacuees you got four allocated to you.
Doris went to school in Princes Risborough and, after a year, she and her brother were moved to Aylesbury to a different school. At both locations they were treated well but were expected to help with the family chores. Their parents visited only occasionally for the day and most of that day was used up by the actual journey.
After about a year, with no bombs falling on London, Doris and Arthur, together with most of the evacuees, moved back home. That’s when the bombing started again and they, with their parents, slept in an “Anderson shelter” in their back garden. The city provided shelters to all who wanted them, and the Anderson shelter was the most common. It was like a small Nissen hut partially buried in the ground with sandbags on top of it. They came with four bunk beds.
One night while the family was safely in their shelter, their house received bomb damage enough for them to move into another house. All this time, Doris and Arthur were going to school. One evening Doris’ mother called them to come up onto the roof from where they could see their school burning. Doris was in the Women’s Junior Air Corp until the end of the war.
In 1944, when Doris was sixteen, she answered an advertisement in the paper and got an interview with the British Broadcasting Company, the BBC. They hired her as a teletype operator and, by taking evening classes at Regent Street Polytechnic, Doris became a shorthand typist. She gradually improved her job, which culminated in becoming the executive secretary to the administrator for the BBC Overseas Services. This department provided announcers for all European origins sending messages to the German-occupied countries of continental Europe, including coded messages to the underground resistance fighters. These messages contained the opening lines of the French poem “Chanson d’Automne” which were the signal to the resistance groups that D-Day would begin in twenty-four hours.
When the war ended on May 8, 1945, Doris went with a friend to a Victory in Europe (VE) Day dance in Putney and had the good fortune to meet Kenneth Glover, a seventeen-year-old freshman from Imperial College, which started a relationship that lasted over 73 years.
Ken and Doris were married on July 28, 1951 in Putney. Their first son, Nigel Kenneth, was born on May 20, 1954 in Fulham. The family then moved to Montreal, Canada, where their second son, Nicholas Clive, was born on July 15, 1956. A move to Connecticut saw the addition of the first American in the family, Melanie Louise, on August 24, 1958.
Subsequent moves to Atlanta dropped off Nigel as he went on to chemical engineering school in Atlanta and a move to Jacksonville left Nick in Florida as Doris (with Ken and Melanie) moved to Houston. Doris braved five changes of location in all and was always the dominating factor in getting the family settled.
Doris was the caretaker of the family, always making sure everyone was happy and fed. She enjoyed spending time in her garden, walking on the beach, dancing, and socializing with the members of her neighborhood in Champions. She was the perfect complement to Ken’s loud personality, always calm and accommodating but also quietly in control of every situation. Stylish, classy, and kind, she was loved by all who met her.
Doris was pre-deceased by her husband of 67 years, Ken, and is survived by her three children mentioned above, Nigel, Nick, and Melanie, four granddaughters, Sara Elizabeth Glover, Christine Louise Grindle, Rosalie Glover Hawkins, and Megan Elizabeth Fair, and two great-grandchildren, Colin Woodrow Grindle and Hailey Elizabeth Hawkins.
Rest in peace, Grandma. I hope that somehow you have reunited with Granddad. I know you were lost without him these past 7 months.
If you have any memories of my grandma you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.