Dorothy Reeves Wiley
Date of birth: March 19 1917
Date of death: October 4 2019
DOROTHY GRACE REEVES (COLLINS) WILEY
Dorothy’s strong heart finally gave out on October 4 at the age of 102, with family members by her side. She was born on March 19, 1917, in Vancouver, Wash., to Lilian (DeGraff) and DeGaris Reeves. Although three years were spent in Everett, Wash., in the 1920’s, Vancouver was her home until 1934 when the family moved to Portland.
After graduating from Vancouver High School she attended Northwestern School of Commerce in Portland and worked as a secretary for a few years. She then attended Washington State College in Pullman (now Washington State University) on scholarship to study music. She became a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, where she made many enduring friendships (including Oregon’s future First Lady Audrey McCall).
Family obligations called her back to Portland where she became a bookkeeper/secretary at Collins & Erwin Piano Co. at the attractive salary of $65 a month. Her musical ability gave her an edge in getting that job as she could not only take shorthand and crunch the numbers but also demonstrate the pianos to potential customers when needed. To her surprise, Mr. Collins gave her a sales commission at the end of the year for the sales she had helped make. One day Duke Ellington wandered into the store and they ended up playing two pianos together - what a thrill that must have been.
She continued to study music on her own during those working years and was excited to earn a role in “The Beggars Opera” at Portland Civic Opera, looking forward to opening night on December 9, 1941. Needless to say, there were many empty seats in the auditorium.
The piano store struggled through the war years and like many Americans, Dorothy tracked ration coupons, collected metal and mended her nylons for the war effort. She also volunteered at the Veterans Hospital and with the USO, where one evening the act following her choral group was a young singer named Frank Sinatra. Many of her evenings were taken up volunteering with the Aircraft Warning Service in Portland, under the 4th Fighter Command, earning her 500-hours pin of recognition.
In 1947 she “married the boss” – James J. Collins, Sr., who was then a widower with two sons almost the same age as Dorothy – and they had three daughters, Linda, Joan and Cathy. Jim died in 1968.
Known to many friends as “Dot” or “Dottie”, Dorothy considered herself a musician and homemaker. She studied piano, voice and violin throughout her adult years and became professional in piano. She was often asked to sing or play at weddings and other events. She served as pianist for 18 musical productions at Aloha High School, which entailed weeks of long drives to Aloha for afternoon rehearsals … but she loved working with the very talented students. She enjoyed golf, bridge and parties at Portland Golf Club with her many friends there. In 1971 she achieved every golfer’s dream when she had a hole-in-one on the 17th hole. She was an active member of Valley Community Presbyterian Church, where she sang in the choir for over 50 years.
In 1969 she married fellow church choir member John M. Wiley. They enjoyed golf and travel together, including a church-organized trip to Greece, Egypt, Israel and Turkey. They took several trips to Palm Springs, Calif., where Dorothy’s younger sister Phyllis lived. John died shortly before Dorothy’s 100th birthday in 2017.
During the 1970’s she served as office manager for The Old Church in downtown Portland. It was a part-time position but a big job because it was during the time of the renovation and restoration of the historic landmark during its transition from unused church to valued and popular event venue. She was responsible for booking and managing all the weddings, receptions and concerts that took place during those years. A plaque on one of the pews marks her contribution.
Survivors include daughters Linda Reid (Clyde), Gleneden Beach, OR; Joan Kerr (Allen), Nashua, NH; and Catherine Berger (Peter), Gleneden Beach; grandchildren Monica Reid, Matthew Moffitt (Stacey), Daniel Moffitt (Laurel), Alice Reid and Mackenzie Kerr and great-grandchildren Zackary Moffitt, Kyle Moffitt and Paige Moffitt. She was predeceased by her sister Phyllis Reeves. Surviving extended family members include Julie Collins Deuling, Becky Collins, Annie Collins Miles, Kate Collins, Steve Collins, Tom Collins, Chris Collins Loud, JB Collins, Patti Slayman Levan, Darcey Kerr Davis, David Wiley, Janet Wiley (Larry Flye), Jordan Flye, as well as two generations following.
Friends of Dorothy are welcome to join the family at a Memorial Reception at Valley Community Presbyterian Church, 8060 S.W. Brentwood St., Portland 97225, on Sunday, October 27, at 3:00 p.m.
Memorial donations are suggested to Valley Community Church.
2 tribute candles have been lit
Candle lit by Staff at Crown Memorial Center Our sincere condolences.
Candle lit by Virginia De Vries Love you and miss you, Dorothy. Your music, your (2) beautiful blue eyes, your warm smile, your courage, have made the world a better place.