EDITORIAL: An island blessed by Dorothy Neil

Dorothy Neil was famous for delivering her Irish blessings, but in fact the true blessing was her presence on Whidbey Island for all these years. We were blessed that the Neil family chose to move from Mount Vernon to Oak Harbor in 1926, and gave us Dorothy Neil.

Dorothy, who passed away Saturday as she neared the age of 95, kept writing her popular “Top o’ the Morn” column in the Whidbey News-Times until the very end, and on the day of her death she had in her possession several items for her next “People and Places” column. Although she “retired” from the daily work of community journalism some years ago, nothing could stop her from writing. As owners, publishers and editors came and went, the Whidbey News-Times retained its strong ties to the island community, thanks largely to the efforts of Dorothy Neil.

Modern newspapers readers remember Dorothy as an entertaining and informative writer and historian, but she was also a newspaperwoman with ink in her veins. For decades, she wrote about school board meetings, city council actions, community events and Whidbey Island’s many characters, while dropping everything when the siren went off so she could photograph fire and auto accident scenes. She could do it all, and did it all with her unique brand of sincerity, humor and dedication.

While doing all this she raised a family, was active in the community, made thousands of friends, and became Whidbey Island’s historian for the masses. She was a remarkable person who can never be duplicated.

At her funeral Thursday, there will be eloquent eulogies and innumerable fond memories of Dorothy recounted. There will also be ideas aired on how best to remember Dorothy.

As a person who loved to read and loved to write, perhaps it would be best to remember her when the new library is built. The new Oak Harbor Library, dedicated to Dorothy Neil. We can’t think of a more fitting tribute to a woman who spent her life educating and entertaining us all.

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