Dorothy E. Kilgus Stoess

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

Dorothy Edna Kilgus Stoess, of Crestwood, died Sunday, February 19, 2012, surrounded by family.

Throughout her life, she was delightfully stubborn and wildly independent.

As a youngster, she marched her pony into her second-floor bedroom. She giggled every time she told the story of her father leading a reluctant pony down a steep flight of polished hardwood stairs.

She attended first through 12th grade at Crestwood Consolidated School, where she gained a reputation as a prankster by rigging a bucket of water above doors to soak unsuspecting teachers.

She married Clarence William “Bill” Stoess, a man just two days her elder. They had five children - Judith, Bill,  Barry, Steve and David.  Judith died in her early teens.

After the sudden loss of her husband in 1966, Dorothy became the sole caregiver of her four sons at a time when single motherhood was rare. Fortunately, she had the support of her brother, Fred Kilgus, who lived nearby and stepped in to serve as a father figure for Dorothy’s boys for decades.

After her husband’s death, she joined the workforce, and retired as a bookkeeper/counselor for the Ky. Dept. of Human Resources and the Ky. Children’s Home.

Dorothy was a firecracker of a woman.

She shared her birthday with her grandson, Patrick, and when he celebrated his 7th birthday, she celebrated her 70th.

Seven and 70 – she frequently remarked that she couldn’t believe the coincidence. Years later her children realized she’d pulled the wool over their eyes – she was 71 when her grandson was 7.  And she just laughed.

As an adult, she had a tendency to peek at wrapped Christmas gifts nestled under the tree.

Sometimes she secretly wore or used the gifts before re-wrapping and placing under the tree to unwrap again with her boys and their families on Christmas Eve.

She loved to shop, and had a variety of comical adventures with her next-door neighbor, Joy. The pair once told a young police officer he needed “to move along” during a traffic stop. He did.

On weekends, she frequented local auctions with her sons and grandchildren, although she rarely bought more than a Pepsi during their treasure hunts.

Dorothy spent the best years of her life as a mother and grandmother. She traveled the U.S. with other local seniors and belonged to the Young at Heart group at Crestwood Baptist and the Triple L Club at Crestwood United Methodist, where she was a church member for decades.

Her green thumb kept Christmas poinsettias blooming beautifully until Easter and she loved working in her flower and vegetable gardens.

A product of her generation as well as her own determination, Dorothy was a self-sufficient woman who could cook, sew, make or re-purpose anything she needed.

Long after her 70th (and 71st) birthday, when one of her sons caught her cleaning gutters alone and scolded her, she said, “Well, I’m glad you’re here. You can hold the ladder for me.”

She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill; daughter, Judy; and two brothers, Fred and Victor Kilgus.
Survivors include her sons, Bill (Mary Cartwright) Stoess of Knoxville, Tenn, and Barry (Bobbie) Stoess, Steve (Mercy) Stoess and David (Cathy) Stoess, all of Crestwood; her grandchildren, Chris Stoess, Marianne Stoess, Jacquelyn (Gregory) Hack, Kate Stoess, A. Jackson Stoess, Sam Stoess, Patrick (Mary Jane) Stoess, Mike Stoess and Daniel Stoess; a great-granddaughter, Harper Hack; and loving next-door neighbors who were great friends and travel buddies and served as Dorothy’s caregivers in her later years.

Services are 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Stoess Funeral Home in Crestwood. Burial will take place at Floydsburg Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may go to Crestwood United Methodist Church to benefit the Kilgus House.