Dorothy Walker Vestal

  • Born: February 24, 1919
  • Died: April 10, 2016
  • Location: Iowa City, Iowa

Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service

2720 Muscatine Avenue
Iowa City, IA 52240
Tel. (319) 338-1132

Tribute & Message From The Family

Dorothy Walker Vestal passed away peacefully on April 10, 2016 at Oaknoll Retirement Residence in Iowa City. She was 97.

Dorothy was born on February 24, 1919 to Dr. Landon and Josephine Walker in Charlotte, North
Carolina, one of five children. She spent her childhood in Charlotte, living at one point on Prison Farm Road and remembered her father, a family physician, occasionally being paid in produce and chickens. Dorothy eventually went off to college, with a full complement of proper hats and white gloves. She graduated from Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina in 1941.

Dorothy then joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, a unit of the US Naval Reserves) and served for three years during World War II. While in the WAVES, she met her future husband, Allan D. Vestal, a Marine, at the Charleston Navy Yard. Dorothy and Allan were married in 1946, and moved to New Haven, Connecticut so Allan could attend Yale Law School. To help support them, Dorothy worked for Professor George H. Dession, preparing a weighty legal tome for publication.

Allan was recruited by Dean Mason Ladd to join the faculty of the University of Iowa Law School, where he remained for his entire career. Allan and Dorothy moved to Iowa City in the spring of 1949, where Allan started teaching a couple of weeks before he actually graduated from Yale. Housing in Iowa City was scarce, and they were happy to get settled in a Quonset hut prior to the birth of their first child, Josephine in June 1949. Jo was followed by Barbara, Allan W. and David. Each child was born into a larger house, as the family moved from Quonset hut to larger temporary housing, to a tiny cape, and finally to a ranch house on Glendale Road.

Dorothy was the consummate faculty wife, entertaining after football games, presiding over dinner parties for research assistants, and attending various University events. She was a wonderful mother to her growing family, making sure the Halloween costumes were homemade, that the birthday cupcakes always arrived on the proper date, and that her offspring were appropriately attired. Dorothy had a strong sense of the right and wrong way to do things, and attempted to bring order to her family and community. For example, under her leadership the First Christian Church annual soup dinner (where everybody was invited to bring a can of soup to put into the communal pot) was reigned in with the decree that only cream of whatever soups were acceptable.

After Dorothy raised her children, all of whom turned out to be lawyers, she enjoyed volunteering in the community, particularly at the Helen Rossi Volunteer Guest House. She was a member of the First Christian Church for over 60 years.

Dorothy and Allan enjoyed exploring new areas while Allan took summer school teaching positions at various law schools around the country. They also traveled extensively, with particular affinity for Maui, Hawaii, and Aspen, Colorado. They also enjoyed visits with their children, who were scattered across the country. Sadly, Allan died in 1983 at the age of 62, leaving Dorothy to create a new life for herself.

Dorothy rose to the challenge, learning to drive at age of 65. She adopted a dog, participated in book groups, poetry workshops, and exercise classes, and became doting Grandma Dot to a growing number of grandchildren. Twenty years ago, Dorothy moved into Oaknoll Retirement Residence, where she comfortably settled into an apartment among people who had been friends for decades, and also made many new friends. Oaknoll proved to be a wise choice, eventually allowing Dorothy to move to assisted living, and, as her health declined, to the health center with seamless support.

Following in the footsteps of her grandmother, who lived to the age of 97, and her mother, who was playing bridge well into her 90s and died at the age 96, Dorothy lived a full 97 years. She was predeceased by her beloved husband, Allan D. Vestal. Dorothy is survived by her daughter, Josephine Vestal of Seattle, granddaughter Maya Apolinario and great grandchildren Marco and Sara; her daughter, Barbara Vestal (Edwin Chester) of Portland, Maine, grandsons David and William Chester, and great grandchild Samuel; her son, Allan W. Vestal (Brenda) of Urbandale, Iowa, grandchildren Allan James and Eleanor Vestal; and her son, David Vestal (Dianne Downing) of Urbandale, Iowa, and grandchildren Hannah and Elizabeth Vestal.

The family extends sincere thanks to the staff of Oaknoll and to Iowa City Hospice for the compassionate care provided to Dorothy. There will be a memorial service to celebrate her life at a later date. If people are so inclined, they may consider a contribution to the Oaknoll Employee Holiday Gift Fund, c/o 1 Oaknoll Court, Iowa City, Iowa 52246; Iowa City Hospice, 1025 Wade Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52240; or the Allan D. Vestal Chair, c/o University of Iowa Law School Foundation, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, Iowa 52244-4550. Online condolences may be sent for her family through the funeral home website @

Condolence & Memory Journal

I saw this notice and it raises fond memories of a wonderful family. With many connections (as Dean Ladd was my grandfather) and time spent with your family. In fact, we have Vestal sightings in our Hogg home movies. Your mother was a wonderful woman and role model for all.

Posted by Barbara Hogg - Kenilworth, IL   June 06, 2016

To Allan and the Vestal Family,

I was so sad to hear that another exceptional mother has left us! May you find comfort in all your wonderful memories of her well-lived, well-loved life.

Posted by Evalyn Van Allen-Shalash - Iowa City, IA   April 21, 2016

To the Vestal family,

On behalf of my sister, Judy Boyd, we want to send our condolences. Our dad, Stephen Sass, often mentioned how appreciative he was of your dad's support when he first joined the U of I Law College faculty. I recall that our families got together, on occasion, for food and entertainment.

It must have been so much of a joy for your dad, along with your mom, that their four children all became lawyers.

You may know that we lost our dad in December of 1999, and our mom last July so we can relate.

We trust that you were able to enjoy your mom's presence for an extended period of time - 97 years young - truly amazing.

All the continued best to the four of you, your significant others, and your offspring.

Posted by Thomas Sass - Iowa City, IA - Friend   April 15, 2016

Deepest condolences Dave on the passing of your mom. Remembering good times at your house in our high school years. Sending good wishes and fond memories your way. Mothers will always live on in our hearts. Julie

Posted by Julie Mellecker - Iowa City, IA - Friend   April 14, 2016

To the Vestal family from the Youngs, our condolence on the passing of your mother. She will always be remembered as a kind warm person who clearly loved her family. Our thoughts are with you.

Posted by Robert Young - Ann Arbor, MI   April 12, 2016

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