A tree for Cal Dothage

Calvin Dothage holds a special place in the hearts of people who knew him, especially his fellow library employees and volunteers.  A dogwood tree and a memorial stone has been established on the library lawn in Cal’s honor.  Above - Among those who gathered to plant the tree were (from left) Connie Reed, Ozark Regional Library Director Holly Martin Huffman, Shirley Pennington, Linda Bennett, Jon Jones and Carol Bell. 

If you grew up in The Valley, you might remember Cal Dothage as the owner of the old Plain and Fancy Restaurant, or The Yankee Noodle Restaurant which followed that one.

Or you might know him as the pleasant man at the library who helped you with some genealogy questions or performed a puppet show for the little ones.

His artistry and people skills have led the folks who knew Cal to set up a memorial on the Ironton library lawn.

A dogwood tree and a memory stone are there now in the hopes that one day the tree might provide some shade to shelter a child enjoying a book.

“He was a great boss,” said Carol Bell.  Dothage hired her as part of the staff at the Plain and Fancy Restaurant. She continued working with him at The Yankee Noodle Restaurant. “We became friends almost instantly when I went to work for him and that friendship lasted all through the years.”

Dothage died in 2013 and by then, Bell said, he was part of the family and they were his guardians and caregivers.

“He had one sister still living in Scottsdale, AZ when he passed away,” Bell said. “They sent some money to the library for a memorial and that is what paid for the tree and memorial stone.”

Calvin W. Dothage moved to Arcadia Valley in the 1960s from St. Louis where he had several restaurants in the old Gaslight Square. He fell in love with The Valley and was soon fully active in the life of the community. Among the organizations in which he was involved were The Historical Society, The Genealogical Society, The Elks Lodge, The Extension Council, and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

After retiring from owning his own businesses, Cal came to Ozark Regional Library as a part-time worker with the Green Thumb Program.  Former Library Director John Mertens hired him as a permanent circulation clerk where he worked for over 20 years before retiring in 2012.

“Cal was so multi-talented,’ said Shirley Pennington. “During the summertime at the library there would be special programs for kids.  He would get an idea and write out parts for a puppet show with dialogue for different characters. He would make the stage and the puppets and we would go to different branches of the Ozark Regional Library and we would put on a puppet show

“The library board meets one a month and Cal would make them a cake.  And it wasn’t simply buy a box cake and a can of frosting and call it good.  A lot of times it would take Cal two days to make those fancy cakes.

“We would always hope that they wouldn’t eat it all so we could have what was left, but a lot of times they took a piece home with them, too!”

Connie Reed, Carol Bell’s daughter, also has fond memories of Cal Dothage, a man who became very much a part of her family.

“I worked with him a long time and he was an extremely  nice man,” Connie said. “He loved to help people, but he did not like computers. He was very old school.”

She remembers spending time at the Plain and Fancy Restaurant while her mother worked.  Cal’s job was to keep her occupied.

“He would keep me entertained on the back porch,” she said. “That is where I learn all about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

She noted that he was a fantastic artist and at one time had a porcelain studio in St. Louis.  He also spent a stint in the Marine Corps during the Korean War.

“Cal dearly loved children and spent his own money every Christmas for teddy bears to give away to the children,” recalls Bell. “One of Cal’s special loves was helping people research in the genealogy room. Anyone who ever saw one of Cal’s decorated Christmas trees appreciated his exquisite artwork.”

“Cal was funny and had a very dry sense of humor,” Pennington said. “I enjoyed him. At lot of times he would say something to you and wait to see if you had caught on.”

Reed said he loved The Valley.

“He never wanted to leave,” she said.