Dorothy Ann McClair brought new joy into the Carrollton, Missouri, home of Dora Miller McClair and Paul McClair, Jr. on September 25, 1948.
A creative child, she loved to read and write stories and design her own books using colorful construction paper and yarn, which she sold to neighbors and classmates for a dime. She spent a good part of her days making entries in volumes of diaries that she marked “Top Secret, Private, Do Not Read – This Means YOU!”
Dorothy began the first year of her formal education at Lincoln School in Carrollton. Leaving an institute filled with family, friends and loving teachers, she walked boldly into the second grade at the newly-integrated Root School. She took with her a growing excitement about learning from new text books and poring through a library filled with stories and pictures of people and places that she hoped to see. She often would go straight from school to the public library, carrying home a stack of books every week.
It was in that library that Dorothy began reading about caregiving, and was soon drawn to nursing. She found a nurse’s cap in the dime store and carried around a toy stethoscope to listen to her siblings’ heartbeats while taking their temperature and pulse, dispensing medication of candy pills and Cheerios, and making funny diagnoses. As a teen, she learned about candy stripers – hospital volunteers who worked under the guidance of nurses. She was elated when she heard that there were openings at Carrollton Hospital. She would proudly don her red and white striped uniform and head to work without caring that there was no pay and no time to play with the other kids after school.
Following graduation from Carrollton High School in 1966, Dorothy moved to Kansas City, where she soon landed a job at The Rival Corporation. In 1967, she celebrated the birth of her son, Anthony Paul Tatum. The following year, she married Vernon Lee Tatum, and in 1970, a second son, Jason Colby Lee Tatum, was born. Her marriage to Vernon ended in divorce, and she formed a 31-year union with Thomas Jordan.
Still eager to help, heal and take care of people, Dorothy was finally able to pursue a career in nursing. She enrolled in the Kansas City, Missouri Board of Education Program of Practical Nursing at Lakeside Hospital, graduating in October 1975. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, serving first at St. Mary’s Hospital. In 1981, she began a long stint at Veterans Administration Medical Center, where she worked as an LPN before changing paths and moving into the Food Service Department. She was promoted to a supervisory position, which she held until her retirement in 2014.
Dorothy’s big, beautiful heart was always open. She loved her family and friends unconditionally, and there were no such words as “half,” “step” or “in-law” – everyone was simply family. She worked hard, played plenty and lived life to the fullest. She loved to travel with her sister Josephine, making trips to California, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island and Florida. A highlight of this past summer was a return trip to Rhode Island with three of her siblings, their children and Thomas.
When she was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, she looked it bravely in the face and walked through the disease with strength, grace and beauty until God claimed her on the evening of April 1.
Continuing to celebrate the life and cherish the memories of Dorothy McClair Tatum are: sons Anthony and Jason Tatum and daughter Malowa Mays, Kansas City; grandchildren Andre, Sha’Nae, Taylor, Myah, Jericho, Jade and Colby; great grandchildren Nate, Audreanna, Andre, Aniyah and Aeriyanna; siblings Paul Leon McClair and Bessie Louise Howard of Kansas City, Marvell Josephine McClair of Carrollton, and Carolyn Sue McClair of Newport, RI; Thomas Jordan; her best friend Dorothy Taylor Burnett, Denton, TX; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Paul and Dora McClair, and brother Ollie Herndon.
Dorothy McClair Tatum will be missed, but her nurturing and loving spirit will live on forever in our hearts. And, now, Dorothy, we borrow your favorite words and say, we love you more.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 A.M. on Friday, April 12, 2019 at Watkins Heritage Chapel. Visitation 9:00 A.M. Interment Oak Hill Cemetery Carrollton, Missouri.
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