dodgie: goodbye grande dame

February 5th 2013 Comments: 9 Topics:

We lost a dear friend this past week and our world grew a bit dimmer.

Dodgie Shaffer liked architecture, but she really loved architects. She married one, gave birth to another–who in turn married one. And, she was friends with, a confidant of, and mentor to countless others. But even a field as varied and far-flung as architecture is, it proved too small for her.  Anything – and especially anyone – remotely connected with design and creativity became an object of her love and a planet in the rich orbit of her life.

The house her husband, John, designed and continually tinkered with for close to 50 years was the building she loved most. For her, it was, and continued to be after his death, “John’s house”. But, it was always Dodgie’s court, where a continuous “salon on life” took place. Cleverly sited on an interior lot, where its modest size was easily expanded by a series of garden rooms, porches, and John’s office, the house was equally suited for the fantastically large parties, intimate conversations, and the parade that was their daily existence. It was a home for many of us; a place where we could just drop by, and be received as if we had long been expected; where visitors great and small were a constant fixture. How John got any work done at all remains a mystery today.

The Episcopal Church of the Ascension (designed by Ralph Adams Cram) where she held “forth and fifth” on all things floral and liturgical, was a close second. This early 20th century ‘English Country Church’, has a majestic bell tower rising above a simple, single nave and a meandering array of offices, classrooms and parish hall. It was Dodgie’s other home: situated and functioning much like “John’s house”; filled with a wide variety of loving friends and interesting people, and she loved it just as much. If only the walls of the flower arranging room could talk!  On Saturday, February 2nd we offered Dodgie a mass goodbye hug from this church which (like her other house) was a grand setting to celebrate a life gracefully lived.

Our vast collective memories hold no sadness, only laughter.  Thanks and goodnight old friend.

Photo by Kris Kendrick


  1. cwhitneyward says:

    How sweet t to know that such enchanting people walk the earth…

  2. Mabs Seay says:

    Can I just say that the sound clip about cheese straws is the most heart warming thing:) AND I totally agree!!!!!

  3. Susan S says:

    A most loving tribute.

  4. Carole King says:

    With a drive through Old Alabama Town one can see a tribute to John’s work and his and Dodgie’s love and devotion for each other was ever-present!

  5. Virginia Humphrey says:

    All you wrote was sooo true. She will be greatly missed! Thanks for putting all that many knew and felt into words.

  6. Bonnie Hunt says:

    One of the sweetest ladies I had the pleasure of knowing…..truly a joy to visit with & one of the finest ladies who truly loved & missed her husband,,,who I know she now is happy to be with!!!

  7. Sue Murphy says:

    By your description of her I love the way she seemed to inspire people all around her. What an amazing gift she seemed to posses. Thank you for sharing her with us. May we all have such beautiful words said about us when we pass.

  8. Alice Novak says:

    It seems that Dodgie loved architects, as she loved members of the clergy, for the way you see the world. And we too – architects, clerics, and laypeople – loved her for her view. I enjoyed hearing her tell the story of her recent visit to Bobby’s home – accented by remarks on haberdashery!

  9. Young Boozer says:

    On the passing of Dodgie and the celebration of Sally’s (Dodgie’s big buddy) birthday today, I post my limerick memorializing Mrs. Shaffer.
    “Our Artful Dodgie”
    There once was a lady named Frances,
    Whose words and whose wit could do dances.
    This dervish called Dodgie,
    Spoke saucy, not stodgy,
    Her banter would always entrance us!
    Young Boozer

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