In Memory of






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

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