Cover photo for Dorothy Alexander's Obituary
Dorothy Alexander Profile Photo
1921 Dorothy 2019

Dorothy Alexander

October 30, 1921 — August 4, 2019

Dorothy Alexander, whose decades of volunteerism and quiet advocacy for racial equality enriched and improved Urbana and Champaign County, died Sunday, August 4, 2019. She was 97.
An Urbana resident for more than 60 years, Mrs. Alexander’s civic and community engagement ranged from elective office to countless private efforts to aid the needy and less fortunate. She was elected to two terms on the Urbana Board of Education and chaired the city’s recreation committee, helping to rally support for an integrated public swimming pool.
More often, however, her service was out of the public eye as a volunteer for countless community causes and concerns. In one year alone in the late 1980s, she was honored for logging close to 1,160 hours – the equivalent of 145 workdays – as an unpaid hospital volunteer.
An accomplished pianist and vocalist, her performances ranged from solos in church choirs to recitals as part of “Kinderoaks Trio,” where she played piano with a local cellist and a violinist. They appeared everywhere from nursing homes to small public concerts that often served as charitable events to raise money for music scholarships for college-bound Urbana High School students.
Mrs. Alexander developed deep friendships with members of the city’s black community at a time when Urbana was mostly socially segregated. Late in life, reflecting on that period, she said one of her greatest honors was being asked to sing solos at weddings and funerals at local African American churches.
Mrs. Alexander was born Dorothy Marie Stimple on Oct. 30, 1921, in Columbus. She was a 1939 graduate of North High School in Columbus and worked her way through The Ohio State University by singing wherever she could get paid. With World War II raging in 1943, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree and went to work as a vocal music teacher at the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home in Xenia.
By that time she had fallen in love with William Robert Alexander, whom she had known from the neighborhood where both grew up on the north side of Columbus. He had graduated from Ohio State several years earlier with a degree in engineering and had begun his career as a draftsman at a large machine tool company in Rochester, N.Y. The couple took up residence in Rochester and started a family. But after several years they returned to Columbus, where both pursued graduate degrees at Ohio State. She was awarded a Master of Arts in 1949.
Several years later they relocated to Urbana, opting for a small town environment not far from Springfield, where Mr. Alexander was hired in the engineering division of a manufacturing firm. He died in 1997.
In the ensuing decades, Mrs. Alexander was involved in an extraordinary range of civic, church and community groups in Urbana. She held congregational leadership positions at the First Presbyterian Church and sang in its choir for more than 50 years, occasionally serving as organist. She was active in Christian Messengers, a group providing assistance for the needy. She helped raise money for charitable causes through Church Women United and the Clark-Champaign Alumnae Club of Delta Omicron, a co-ed international professional music honors fraternity devoted to promoting excellence in music. She was a member and officer in the Urbana chapter of the American Association of University Women, and she served on the Champaign County Arts Council. In addition to her unpaid work at the local hospital, she spent years as a volunteer driver for the Mobile Meals program, delivering hot meals to shut-ins.
In 1980, she was a founding member of the Friends of the Champaign County Library and later served as its president.
She won election to her first term on the Urbana Board of Education in 1961 and was re-elected four years later. As her second term was ending, she chaired the city’s recreation committee and helped lead the drive for a municipal swimming pool. Mrs. Alexander would later say that she and others were motivated by the death of a black youth who, having no access to a pool with lifeguards, drowned while taking a dip in a local lake.
The creative and musical arts dominated Mrs. Alexander’s life. She began many days at dawn playing Chopin nocturnes or Scriabin preludes on the Steinway concert grand piano that dominated the living room of Kinderoaks, the name she gave the family residence at 400 College Street. She painted – watercolor, oil, pastels – and knitted, quilted, sculpted, wove shawls on a loom and produced self-designed needlepoint pillows. She spent hours listening to recordings of classical music; a favorite was famed Russian-born pianist Vladimir Horowitz, who she had seen perform on stage at Ohio State while she was a student. She read constantly, everything from weekly news magazines to the biography of Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov. And for more than a half century, she subscribed to The New York Times. Some years before her death, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. sent her a note thanking her as one of the newspaper’s longest-tenured subscribers.
She also embraced multiculturalism. With her husband, she frequently hosted foreign exchange students who lived with the Alexander family. And foreign graduate students from Ohio State often were weekend guests through a program sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church.
Mrs. Alexander is survived by her children: daughter Susan Alexander Hill of New York City; sons Andrew Alexander (wife Beverly Jones) of Washington, DC, Dalton Alexander (wife Madeleine) of Little Silver, N.J., Peter Alexander (wife Aarati) of Atlanta, Ga.; and grandchildren Khalil Alexander Hill (wife Hilina)), Taline Alexander (husband Philip Stevens), Sarah Alexander, Shant Alexander, Christina Alexander and great-grandchild Llewelyn Stevens. In addition to her parents, Mrs. Alexander was preceded in death by her brother, Ralph, Jr.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Hearth & Home of Urbana for their care of Mrs. Alexander during the final years of her life.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 10, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 116 West Court Street in Urbana. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Champaign County Arts Council, 119 Miami Street, Urbana, Ohio 43078 (

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dorothy Alexander, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

First Presbyterian Church

116 W. Court St., Urbana, OH 43078

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 17

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree