Dorothy Bessette

Dorothy O. "Dottye" Bessette (O'Donnell)

Saturday, July 11th, 2020
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Dorothy (“Dottye”) O’Donnell Bessette passed away July 11, 2020, after a brief illness. A daughter of Waterbury, Connecticut, Dottye grew up on Rockledge Drive surrounded by her big Irish family and extended family. From there, she attended St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing.

Nursing was not just a job for Dottye, it was a vocation. Dottye had a long nursing career throughout southeastern Connecticut concentrating on providing care, comfort and dignity for those experiencing terminal illness. Dottye was a long-time advocate of having dignity and peace in dying and helped so many families navigate the spiritual and emotional process of bereavement. Dottye received numerous commendations for her work in the field of nursing, including the Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing in 2003.

The love and joy of Dottye’s life was her husband Jay of nearly 55 years. High school sweethearts, Dottye and Jay were inseparable from the beginning, which often required Dottye to caddy for Jay at East Mountain Golf Course. Whether they were chasing sunsets in Nantucket with a truck full of family and friends or sharing an empty Caribbean beach and swimming in the gentle waves together, theirs was a one-of-kind love and commitment. That commitment gave them three beautiful children, their spouses and eight grandchildren.

One of Dottye’s greatest joys was being a grandmother. “Nannie” loved to lead her 8 unique and formidable grandchildren on adventures far and wide. Whether walking the beach hunting sea glass and shells or body surfing the big wave beaches, Nannie had a bottomless well of interest, time and energy for her grandchildren. Her grandchildren are blessed by the wonderful years they had with her full of sandcastles, ice cream and unconditional love.

Dottye’s raucous Irish family came along for the ride. Their times together in recent years for reunions in Florida, including the always-competitive golf tournaments, brought Dottye and Jay great joy and happiness. Wherever they were, Dottye and Jay’s house or cottage was always open for more people - if there was floor space for an air mattress, you could come stay and have a great meal around a table full of love and laughter. (Be careful not to trip over anyone on the way to bathroom in the middle of the night!) That was the gift of Dottye - she fiercely loved her family and friends and whatever she had was hers to share.

The Bessette family is particularly grateful for the long-time friendship and love of Kathy Cooley Franco who brought Dottye and Jay so much comfort and support. The family would also like to thank The Westerly Hospital ICU and palliative care staff for taking such good care of Dottye and her family.

Dottye is predeceased by her parents, Edward and Dorothy and her brother Michael.

A Funeral Liturgy will be held at St. Michael the Archangel Church, 60 Liberty St., Pawcatuck, Connecticut, at 10am on Friday, July 17, 2020. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center at Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home, 59 Spruce St., Westerly is in care of the arrangements. For online condolences please visit
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Service Details

  • Service

    Friday, July 17th, 2020 | 10:00am
    Friday, July 17th, 2020 10:00am
    St. Michael the Archangel Church
    PAWCATUCK, CT 06379
  • Interment

    Private, --
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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1 tree has been planted in memory of Dorothy O. "Dottye" Bessette (O'Donnell)

Arlene Hall

Posted at 09:09am
I am so saddened to hear of your mother's passing. She was a kind, wonderful and loving person, who will be missed by many. She was like a second mother to me, so the news of her death touched me deeply. It brought back a flood of childhood memories: from Summers at the beach (the ocean surf, sand, sunburns and of course, ice cream!) to the St. Andrew's Choir, and the many family parties we all enjoyed. My parents send their deep condolences, as do I. We are all so very sorry for your family's loss. Our family is sending much love to all, now and always. 'May peace and comfort surround you, contentment latch your door, and love be with you now, and bless you ever more.' Rest in peace, Dottye. ❤🌹

Art Becotte

Posted at 02:21pm
Art and I are sad to hear abut Dottye"s passing. Though we haven't seen both of you for many years we still have connections to the St. Andrew Choir through email which connects us to you. Our memories go back to the trip to Rome with all our friends and choir members. We shared good food, the Sistine chapel, and seeing Pope John Paul. Dottye was always laughing and having fun at the choir picnics and wine tasting get-togethers. God is good when he gave us Dottye in our little world of friends. We will pray for you Jay and all the family. Jean and Art Becotte Hudson Florida

Cyn Fergie

Posted at 10:22pm
I have only met this spirited woman a few times. But she was a force to be reckoned. Her daughter Meghan has become one of my closest friends over the past 25 years - so grateful for the love and acceptance of the Bessette-Brunnock family. God bless you and heal your hearbreak

Beckett Rodgers

Posted at 03:53pm
In memory of Dottye who had an amazing life and gave to so many through her hospice work. Jack and I send our love.
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Beckett Rodgers

Posted at 03:41pm
Hi Everyone, I worked with Dottye at Hospice of SE Ct for many years. She was a very special nurse and person who loved all she came into contact
with. Her since of humor kept us all going. She was able to bring us all together as a team and our mission to help the dying die in peace was what
Dottye was excellent about doing. Hospice concept came to Connecticut in 1972 and Dottye was an intricate part of that movement starting in
New London to Norwich where she played an amazing role of keeping everything going. Her family was very special to her and I know that she died
in peace and dignity makes me feel good. My best to everyone. Love❣️, Beckett Rodgers

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