Doris Wylder Findlay was born in Saint Louis, Missouri on June 28, 1932. She was the only child of Harold and Etta Wylder. She grew up in North Saint Louis and as a teenager moved to the suburb of Ferguson. She graduated in 1953 from Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in Latin American Studies. Doris excelled in her academic work, becoming a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the national honorary society for top undergraduates. She was also a student leader in the University YM-YWCA, participating in local and national social justice work.
In her last year at Washington U, she met her husband, James Findlay. They married in 1955 while she was a staff member of the Campus YM-YWCA at W.U. She accompanied her husband through his graduate school years at Northwestern U. in Evanston, IL, serving as the director of the Northwestern YM-YWCA, then on to a decade together at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN. Her three children, James Douglas, Eileen, and Peter, were all born during these years. More recently, she enjoyed two grandchildren, Amaya and Lucas Suarez-Findlay, both now college students. Her youngest son, Peter, died at age 20 in 1983 while a student at Brown University.
In 1971 she and her family moved to Rhode Island, where her husband became a professor of history at the University of Rhode Island. Commuting to Hartford, CT, Doris earned a Masters Degree at the U. of Conn. School of Social Work. She worked in public mental health clinics for two decades as a therapist, especially of survivors of sexual abuse and later supporting Latino children and young adults, first in Rhode Island and later in Dayville and Willimantic CT. She pioneered feminist treatment strategies, trained social work interns from five different New England universities, and diversified the staff and leadership in the CT clinics through the hiring of many Latino/a professionals. She retired in 1996.
In South Kingstown, she was active in a wide array of community groups. She was a leading member of Kingston Congregational Church for 50 years, active in the League of Women Voters, volunteered at Planned Parenthood and the first free public health clinic in Wakefield, and worked for quality public schools among many other social justice causes. Upon retirement, she dedicated herself to the South Providence Neighborhood Ministry, a community organization which served the principle low-income area of Providence. There she helped organize social services for children and their families, hired and trained staff, and served as President of the Board.
Doris was a talented tap dancer (still tapping in her 80’s!), an avid reader, film and TV watcher (especially British mysteries on PBS). She loved needlepoint, knitting, and embroidery work, as well as nursing plants and potted flowers inside and outside the house. She cared very much for people as revealed in her professional life as a social worker, in her church commitments, and in her daily responses to her family and many friends. She will be sorely missed. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, burial will be private. A memorial service to celebrate her life will be scheduled at a later date. For guest book and condolences, averystortifuneralhome.com.