With sad hearts, we bid Priscilla Likins Doty farewell to join her beloved Larry ever to sip wine and watch glorious sunsets together. Priscilla passed peacefully at UNC Hospice in her 96th year at 11pm on November 11, Veterans Day 2023. She will be forever missed for her devotion and love for her family that was always the focus of her life. The wellbeing and prosperity of Priscilla's children and grandchildren will be her everlasting legacy.
Priscilla is survived by her daughter, Andrea Zenga, (husband, Joseph and children, Laura and Jason), sons Douglas (wife, Olga) and Alexander, and daughter, Pamela Braker (husband, Steven and children, Annie and Evelyn). Priscilla was preceded in death by her loving husband, Lawrence G. Doty, her parents, Marthella and Vance F. Likins Sr., her brother and sister-in-law, Vance F. Likins Jr. and Christine, her brother Samuel, and her sister Cynthia Vernardakis.
Born on July 28, 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Priscilla grew up in Marblehead and Swampscott, Massachusetts. Despite the expectations of her time, Priscilla decided not to marry right out of high school. She enrolled in Hollins University, Virginia, and earned a Bachelor's degree in Spanish and English. An early sign of her adventurous spirit, Priscilla traveled to Honduras on an exchange program to teach English in the summer of 1947. After her graduation in 1949, Priscilla taught English, Spanish and Drama at Lexington High School in Virginia. In 1950, she married Lawrence Gove Doty of Swampscott who had just started his career as a civil servant. Priscilla accompanied her husband around the world, living the life that went with his stressful occupation in defense of democracy, while making a loving and beautiful home for her family wherever they travelled.
Priscilla went with Lawrence first to Milan and then to Rome after he received an assignment in Italy. There, Priscilla began her family, having her first three children – Andrea, Douglas, and Alexander. She enjoyed learning the Italian culture and language and being a new mother. Her fourth child, Pamela, was born in Washington, DC, after the couple returned from Italy.
Settling her family for good in the nation's capital wasn't in the cards as she had to pack up and move her family to Medellin, Colombia, where they lived for three years. Upon return to the United States in 1965, the family settled in Bethesda, Maryland. There, Priscilla met her next challenge: raising her four children alone while her husband was stationed in Vietnam for several years. In 1971, she followed Lawrence to El Salvador, with her two youngest children to spend another two years in a hot spot outside the United States. They returned to Bethesda in 1974 where they finally settled.
Priscilla's greatest joy was having family gathered together. She would create the most festive occasions with her wonderful cooking and holiday decorations. Not a Christmas went by without displaying a family treasure, the traditional Italian presepio compete with the twinkling star hanging from the living room ceiling. At Halloween, Priscilla always delighted little trick-or-treaters with Jack-o'-lanterns and treats. And she never forgot a birthday. Even when she was overseas, she arranged through a mothers' network to surprise Douglas, at that time in school in the States, with a cake on his 18th birthday. She loved seeing and engaging with her grandchildren, be it playing basketball with Jason, teaching Laura how to bake Christmas cookies ,or decorating gingerbread houses with Annie and Evelyn. Her patience was endless with them, as was her desire to help raise a new generation of her family.
Priscilla was very musical, enjoying singing and playing the accordion. She loved choir music and the pop songs of her youth. You would hear her break out in song with Somewhere Over the Rainbow, while tucking her youngest, Pam, into bed, or Stormy Weather—with emphasis on the bluesy notes. Singing in the Rain, Meet Me in St. Louis, Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum all were her favorites. She was artistic and loved the theater. Happy were the times when it felt like we were in one of her musicals!
Priscilla loved attending church wherever she was in the world and exposed her young children to the church experience, although her husband was not a churchgoer. She even arranged to have Douglas and Alexander baptized in Medellin, Colombia. The values she felt strongly and held deeply came from her family's Christian upbringing. Compassion and charity towards others were pillars of her personality, which gave us her favorite saying, "Kill them with kindness."
Her compassion and empathy were unwavering. She readily listened to family members who needed her ear to share news, or to talk over their aspirations or some angst or frustration. While she made friends easily, she had few steadfast friendships like the one with Joan Stansbury, her college roommate. For many years, whenever possible, Priscilla made sure to see Joan to exchange Christmas gifts.
While the fulfillment and independence of a career were hard to realize with her husband's position, after her children left home and graduated from college, she found great satisfaction in caring for a little child helping him to become a smart and healthy teenager.
Priscilla will be missed for her sweet disposition, zest for life, elegance and poise, as well as for her exceptional carrot cake that on Easter came in a shape of the Easter Bunny. She was a steely butterfly, who could be lighthearted, fun-loving, high-spirited, colorful and stylish, but also had a steady resolve, was strong-minded, unwavering in her values, realistic, perspicacious, and wise. She was polite to everyone, saw each person as an individual and made friends with people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs.
A funeral is planned for January 5, 2024, at Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, NC. Internment at Arlington National Cemetery is planned at a future date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to be made to UNC Hospice.