Dorothy Barbara Stewart Obituary

Dorothy (Dottie) Barbara (Robbins) AKA Robbie (Donnell) Stewart, was born September 30, 1926 in Pittsburg PA, and died peacefully in her home in St. Joseph MI on Friday morning, September 1, 2023. She was preceeded in death by her husband Frederick L. Donnell, 3-19-1982, her second husband Earnest Stewart, 11-9-1989, her brother, George L. Robbins 2-28-2012, her nephew Stephen Robbins November 1992, and her son-in-law Horst Zabel, 11-7- 2012.

She is survived by her three children: (Kim) Rob (Beverly) Donnell, Kathie (Donnell) Zabel (Horst), and Karla DonnellBragg (Harold), 7 Grandchildren: Jessica (Donnell) Bowers (Johnathan), Montana (Donnell) Higo (Masateru), Joshua Donnell (Rachel), and Laura (Donnell) Stinson (Cody), Michael Zabel (Nancy), Ginger (Zabel) Hysell, Brent Zabel (Erin), 18 Great-Grandchildren: Alaina, Lillian, Lindsey, Leif, Linus and Lachlan Donnell, Eiji, Seiji and Keiji Higo, Abigail and Charles Stinson, Foster (Paige) Zabel, Machenzie Zabel, Hazel and Hannah Hysell, Eleanor, Casey and Carson Zabel, and nephews David Robbins, Reid Miner (Mary), Jay Miner (Mauri), and Jim Miner, their children and grandchildren, and many generations of cousins.

During her later years, she had many caregivers who helped make her life enjoyable. To leave them out of her story would be a tremendous disservice. The primary ones are here listed: Ken Lachmann, Darlene Sesson, Sandy Nelson, Irene Ndegwa, Thelma Davis, Connie Johnson, Chira Johnson, Shirley Carouthers,Yolanda Carrillo, Ariela Ramirez, Araceli Sandeneta, also her daughters, Karla and Kathie, and family members in MA, Richard Moody Sr., Rick, Merideth, and Heather Moody and Janice Holden, and everyone at Caring Circle Hospice who took such great care of her, especially at the end, Michelle RN, Kunga social worker, and Julie her personal care attendant. Thank you all!

Robbie lived a very full and somewhat amazing life. Having contracted encephalitis around age 5, she was paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak for a year. However as other children were dying from this disease, Robbie made a full recovery and went on to be a physical education teacher for a couple of years at St. Joseph Public Schools, and later, worked in the same capacity at Lakeshore Junior High for 26 years. She loved teaching and was an avid and accomplished tennis player. She also enjoyed camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, canoeing, pretty much any outdoor activity, and her favorite place in all the world was a cabin on John’s Bay ME that she and her mother, Mildred Robbins, had gone in on together to purchase in 1948.

Robbie attended regularly at the Stevensville Methodist Church when it was downtown and then moved with that congregation into the new building where it is now the Stevensville United Methodist Church. She sang in the choir there for 40 years, was involved in many church activities , and she and her husband Ernie took a mission trip to Alaska in the mid 1980s to help build a church there.

Of great consequence to all in Southwest Michigan was the work begun back in the early 1960‘s by the Grand Mere Association of which she was a founding member. Their hard work and diligence protected the lakeshore, dunes, and woods from being sand mined. Their slogan was „Save Grand Mere!“ Had it not been for their 20 years of hard work, what is now Grand Mere State Park would not exist today.

The family will receive visitors on Friday, September 8, from 4 until 7 P.M. at Starks & Menchinger Chapel, 2650 Niles Road, St. Joseph. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11:00 A.M. Saturday, September 9, 2023 at Stevensville United Methodist Church, 5506 Ridge Rd, Stevensville, MI 49127. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the time of service. Burial will take place at Ruggles Cemetery following the service. Memorial donations in Dorothy’s name may be made to Stevensville United Methodist Church, Caring Circle Hospice, or any wildlife conservation group of your choosing. Those wishing to sign Dorothy‘s Memory Book online may do so at