Dorothy Deane Bower Lemke, 87, of Jefferson City, passed away Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Capital Region Medical Center.
Dorothy was born February 8, 1932, in Fortuna, Missouri, the daughter of the late Oscar Fredrick and Charlotta Harriet (Thompson) Kueffer.
She was married on November 1, 1952, in California, Missouri to Sam Leonard Bower, who preceded her in death in April, 1991. On March 5, 2001, she married Rudolf Michael Lemke who survives at the home.
A 1950 graduate of Tipton High School, Dorothy trained as a cosmetologist and later as an optician in Chillicothe, Missouri. She opened and operated Classic Optical in Jefferson City until she retired in 1997.
She was a member of the Cathedral of St. Joseph. Dorothy enjoyed all types of activities including sewing, crocheting, upholstering, and gardening. She loved volunteering at the Salvation Army.
Dorothy’s greatest life achievement was proving that one woman can make a lasting difference to thousands of people in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. She first visited the area in 1982 to view the ancient ruins but fell in love with the people, many of whom she found were in need of eyeglasses. In subsequent trips she brought used glasses that clients had left at her store and began distributing them in the poor Mayan villages.
In 2003 Dorothy started the Merida Foundation to further assist the poor of the Yucatan. In addition to providing eyeglasses, the foundation established nutrition programs for school children in these villages. Today the Merida Foundation feeds over 500 children each school day at multiple sites.
For her life work, Dorothy received the 2011 Mrs. William H. Weldon Lifetime Achievement Award from the Zonta Club of Jefferson City.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her first husband, Sam; a young sister, Emma Kueffer; and sister, Mary Elizabeth Jones.
She is survived by her husband Rudolf Lemke, Jefferson City; two sons, Larry Dean Bower, Jefferson City; Dale Lee Bower, Tucson, Arizona; three step-children, Christina (Onnie) Clem, Lago Vista, Texas; Theresa Hedrick, Jefferson City; Paul Lemke, Jefferson City; four grandchildren, Brandy (Jeff) Nineman, Kevin Bower, Chris (Kelly) Bower, Jeff (Maya) Bower; three great-grandchildren, Kaitlyn Bauer, Tegan Alexandrea Bower, Addie Nineman; and a niece, Martha (Archie) Devers, Smithville, Missouri.
Visitation will be 4:30-7 p.m., Tuesday, May 28, 2019, at Dulle-Trimble Funeral Home with a prayer service at 4 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 10 a.m., Wednesday, May 29, 2019, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, with the Rev. Fred Elskamp officiating.
Entombment will be in Resurrection Mausoleum.
Memorials are suggested to The Merida Foundation, P.O.B. 105431, Jefferson City, Missouri 65110.
Dulle-Trimble Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
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