Dorothy McLaughlin, 76, who was instrumental in founding Senior Helping Hands Inc., the Senior Community Service Employment Program, the Montana Association for Female Executives and the Museum of Women’s History, died in the early morning hours of April 29, 2013.
She was born May 6, 1926, in Kansas City, Mo., the oldest of five children of Earl Henry Klopfenstine and Hazel Loucille Allen. Due to the early death of her father and her mother’s illnesses, at the age of 7 she assumed responsibility for the housework and care of her younger siblings. She graduated at age 16 from East High School in Kansas City.
When she was 20, her first marriage produced two children, Margi (Margaret) Carol Gant and Michael Lynn Gant. The family moved to California, and she became chief bookkeeper for Ehrhart & Associates Inc. Engineers & Constructors. She then served as office manager for Relief Printing Corp. of California.
Three years after divorcing her first husband, she married Patrick Michael McLaughlin. In 1976, at age 50, she received a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from California State University, Los Angeles. In 1987, at age 61, she received a master’s degree in business from Columbia Pacific University in San Rafael, Calif.
Following Mr. McLaughlin’s retirement, the moved in 1976 to Billings. She volunteered as a Pink Lady at St. Vincent Healthcare and served as volunteer director at the Southside Senior Citizens Center. She and Agnes Crow co-founded Senior Helping Hands Inc., an organization that helps senior citizens remain in their homes.
In 1977, she was selected to establish the NRTA/AARP Senior Community Service Employment Program in Montana. Her efforts resulted in national recognition, an Outstanding Director Award and an invitation from first lady Rosalyn Carter for tea at the White House. She was also transferred to the Dallas, Texas, site to assist in establishing that program. She retired in 1987 to return to Billings.
During her tenure as director of the Senior Community Service Employment Program, she initiated monthly breakfast meetings for professional women to provide opportunities to network and exchange ideas. The group soon outgrew the dining room, and in 1980 she co-founded the Montana Association for Female Executives and served as its first president.
In 1995, with her work and support from Chancellor Ronald Sexton, the Museum of Women’s History opened in the basement of Eastern Montana College’s McMullen Hall. It later relocated to 2822 Third Ave. N.
Survivors include a daughter, Margi Gant of Billings; a sister, Maxine Wilson of California; a half-sister, Ginger Guevara; and a longtime friend, George Sherman of Billings.
A celebration of her life will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 9, at Cremation & Funeral Gallery, 29 Eighth St. W. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Memorials may be sent to the Museum of Women’s History, 2822 Third Ave. N., Billings, MT 59101.