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Since early adulthood, I've spent many an hour perusing and pondering the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Though my admiration for this meaningful man is beyond measure, I haven't always followed his advice.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon," he suggested, "for you never know how soon it will be too late.”

Several weeks ago I received a call from Adele Bowden-Purlee, a good friend and director of Success and Opportunity At Reading, an organization devoted to teaching adults how to read.

She noted Dottie Duncan would be retiring after 12 years as a valuable volunteer with SOAR.

Adele thought a column about Dottie would be well received by T-M readers.

I wholeheartedly concurred. I even considered calling Dottie that very day, but Adele and I agreed it would be better to wait until the tribute, slated for June 11.

Fate, as it is prone to do, intervened.

Dottie was struck by a car on June 2. She died at the University of Louisville Hospital, a day after she was to be honored.

"... you never know how soon it will be too late."

I take some solace in believing Dottie knew she was loved and appreciated by so many.

"Dottie was the personification of a truly classy lady," Bowden-Purlee said. "She gave of her time, energy and heart to this community and she will be greatly missed. In most of our lives we only meet, know and love one 'Dottie Duncan.'"

Many at the newspaper were blessed to work alongside Dottie. In an era populated with so many "players" intent on angling for self-gratification, Dottie was a consummate caregiver.

"She was a great inspiration," said former faith writer Barbie Porter, "in so many ways."

Mario Basinger described his close friend as genuine. "Each time I'd see her Dottie had a smile on her face," he recalled.

Dottie served as a vital and responsible co-worker at the paper, always available to assist on any assignment or project.

"I had the pleasure of working with Dottie for many years," recalled Ellen Ware. "She was so dedicated and did an outstanding job. I'll always remember when Dottie dressed up as Mrs. Santa Claus and came to my son's day care. The children were so delighted."

Susan Hayes recalled the manner in which Dottie made each person feel special.

"In addition to her ever-present hat of the day, she sported an air of confidence, wit, intelligence and grace," Hayes explained. "She was never too busy to listen or lend a hand.

"Dottie's delightful sense of humor and positivity helped her overcome breast cancer and come to terms with the recent death of her husband Dick. As a fellow breast cancer survivor, Dottie's can-do attitude inspired me to emulate her. Rather than wallow in self-pity, Dottie served as a role model and buoyed my resolve."

For me, it was Amy Swain's description of Dottie that hit closest to home.

"Dottie championed people ... in her warm, wonderful way." Amy explained. "That's what made her a great mother and grandma, a steadfast friend, and an engaging tutor who changed lives."

One evening during a break in a poker game at the Duncan abode just off of Tunnelton Road, I mentioned to Dottie — in her early 70s at the time — that she always appeared so young and full of life.

“Thanks!" she said, flashing that irrepressible grin. "You know, Bob, I once was a cheerleader!"

Was? I think not.

No, Dottie, is the eternal cheerleader, a treasured source of encouragement and inspiration for anyone envisioning that sweet smile of sincerity so readily shared.

Columnist Bob Bridge at 812-276-9646 or

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