On the sunny afternoon of October 2, Hilah White Armstrong Dorsey, 91, of Wilmington, died peacefully at Davis Health Care Center after a long illness. Members of her family were by her side. A North Carolina native, Hilah was born in Raleigh on March 16, 1923 to Howard and Anne White. She was the last survivor of seven children. Hilah attended Raleigh schools and graduated from Needham Broughton High School in the class of 1941. Throughout her life she loved sports, especially swimming, diving, tennis, golf and later snow skiing. She attended St. Mary's and what is now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro until World War II intervened.
She married high school sweetheart Lt. Ben Armstrong, USAF, also of Raleigh, in 1944. During their 26 year marriage, Hilah and Ben lived in Germany, France, and South Africa and in several US states. They had three children: Allen who died in 2003, Lee and Carla. When Hilah moved back to Raleigh along with her children, she enrolled in and graduated from Hardbarger Business College. She took a job at the NC Industrial Commission, and she worked there until her marriage to Edward G. Dorsey, Jr., also a native of Raleigh and a high school friend. Ed had left Raleigh after high school, served in World War II, attended Purdue University, married Mintie "Mitzi" Dorsey, and moved to Utah where he was the Program Manager for Morton-Thiokol Industries for the first six United States space shuttle missions. Mitzi died in 1984, and Ed and Hilah reconnected and married in 1985. They lived part of the year in Park City, Utah, and part of the year in Wilmington. In 2000, they moved to Wilmington full time.
Throughout her life, Hilah brought joy and happiness to all who knew her. Whether at work, at church, or with friends playing tennis, golf, or skiing, her infectious bell-like laugh rang out. Her diverse interests included gardening, cooking, entertaining, and knitting. She planted flower gardens of great variety. "I love color," she often said. Her gardens were always enjoyed by neighbors and visitors.
She also had a life-long love of music, and especially dancing. One of her favorite photographs was a picture of herself dancing with Ed at Airlie Gardens even though she had become impaired by Parkinson's disease. She and Ed often attended concerts of the Wilmington Symphony, live HD Opera broadcast from the Met, the NC Symphony, and the Cape Fear Jazz Society events.
Hilah was baptized at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Raleigh, her family's home church. She was a member there for many years. In Wilmington, she and Ed became members of St. Andrews On-the-Sound where she participated in the knitting group and various prayer circles for many years. Her daily devotional readings were a regular part of her spiritual practice. From them, she drew strength and courage. She passed on her love of life and positive outlook to all who knew her. She will be deeply missed.
Hilah is survived by her devoted and beloved husband, Edward Dorsey, and by her two daughters, Lee Davis (John) of Raleigh, and Carla Dennis (Richard) also of Raleigh, as well as by Ed's son Eddie (Betty) Dorsey, and his daughter Martha (Dale) Ward, both of Utah. She is also survived by her grandchildren in Raleigh -- Rachel, Paul and Robyn Dennis, and by many grandchildren and great grandchildren in Utah. Many family members also survive Hilah, and will surely strive to carry forward her spirit, her affirmation of others, and her acceptance and appreciation of life as it is given.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, October 7th at 11:00am at St. Andrews On-the-Sound, 101 Airlie Road, Wilmington, with The Rev. Richard G. Elliott officiating. A reception will follow. Attendees are encouraged to wear brightly colored clothes in honor of Hilah's joy and love of life.
A graveside service and interment will be held at 3:00pm Thursday, October 9, 2014, at Raleigh Memorial Park, 7501 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27612. See www.andrewsmortuary.com for details. Clergy from the Church of the Good Shepherd will conduct the graveside service.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choice, or to the St. Andrews On-the-Sound Endowment Fund.
The family would like to thank both the staffs of Davis Health Care Center for their years of tender care and service, and the Lower Cape Fear Hospice team who were so helpful in the last weeks of Hilah's life.
Andrews Mortuary, 1617 Market Street, Wilmington is directing the arrangements. Condolences to the family at www.andrewsmortuary.com