Her friendly smile and concern for her community were just two of the many characteristics that defined Virginia Schott Dotson.
Now many citizens mourn her death last weekend as family and friends gather today to pay their last respects to a business woman and dedicated citizen.
Dotson was the youngest of 11 children and grew up with a strong work ethic. Some of this may have come from the strength of her mother, Margaret Jones Rose, after the death of her father when she was a mere 18 months old. Living in Jefferson County, the family moved back to Laurel County where her mother's family originated.
Dotson's maternal grandfather, Frank Catron Jones, was one of the founders of East Bernstadt Baptist Church and she attended there until she married Edward L. Schott. Schott, a descendent of the Swiss immigrants who came to western and northern Laurel County in the 1880s, attended St. John's Swiss Reform Church and Dotson joined him in his worship with his family although she remained a member of East Bernstadt First Baptist Church.
Together in their union, the couple had three children - Diana Lincks, Roger and Edward Lincoln Schott, and lived in the East Bernstadt community. The family was well known to residents in the area, operating Schott's Store in East Bernstadt for 32 years.
"It was a true general store," said Lincks. "We had groceries, seeds, fabric, patterns, shoes, linoleum - anything you'd need."
The Schott family also operated a hardware store in East Bernstadt and a second one in London, off East Fourth Street at the corner of intersection with McWhorter Street. A third business operated by the family offered furniture in a building that still sits just past the overhead bridge on Ky. 490 off U.S. 25.
Edward and Virginia Schott were also key players in the organization of the East Bernstadt Fire Department in 1965.
"My dad got tired of waiting on a fire truck from the county, so he and other people in the community organized a fire department," Lincks added. "It isn't like today with technology and social media - and the men then didn't have all the equipment of today."
Lincks said Dotson was concerned about helping her neighbors, crediting her with being the person who called out members of the volunteer fire department.
"Mom had a special phone in the house and she would individually call every member of the fire department. She didn't care when it was, she would call day or night," Lincks said.
Dotson remained active with the fire department, even after her husband's death in 1985. She remarried later on to Estill Dotson, who preceded her in death in 2001.
Dotson was also the owner of Rainbow Florist but soon gave up that venture and began working for Edward Jones Investments with David Vickers in 1994 as a branch office manager. She continued to work in that environment until she retired - at age 83.
"Mom loved to work," Lincks explained. "She taught us a strong work ethic and she still kept active after her retirement."
Lincks said a fall that broke Dotson's hip restricted her in June 2017 and that Dotson never quite recovered from the injury. But she remained just as dedicated to her church and her family as ever before, even while dealing with pain and unable to be as mobile as she wished.
Dotson also worked with classmates and friends to organize the All Years Reunion for former students of East Bernstadt Independent School for many years.
"Mother worked with Lorene Waldoff and several others to organize that reunion, which they held every five years," Lincks said. "She was always very community minded and she had a lot of friends."
Lincks described her mother as "photogenic with a lovely, lovely smile that she offered to everyone she met."
"Mother was very loved and we were blessed to have her for 92 years," Lincks added. "She always expected us to be the very best we could be and I think we've done that."
Funeral services will be held at Bowling Funeral Home at 1 p.m. today. A full obituary for Virginia Rose Schott Dotson is included in this edition, page 6.