Reba Florene Maffitt Dorsett was born February 27, 1919, to Frank and Anna (Ware) Maffitt two miles north of Barnard, Missouri, on their family farm at the end of flu season, after her mother had been sick with the flu for several months. She was the fourth of five children, joining older siblings Grace, Annetta and William.
She grew up during the Great Depression and attended a Fairview Elementary School through eighth grade, and then attended Barnard High School, where she walked two miles each way to get to school. When she was a junior, the school met in the Methodist Church basement while the WPA built a new school. The new school opened her senior year and the 1937 class was the first to graduate from the new building, which had flush toilets – a novelty for the area.
After she graduated high school, she went to normal training at Maryville Normal School (now Northwest Missouri State University) for two years. She taught rural school in Nodaway County – two years at Fairview, two years at Liberty and two years at Lafayette.
Then she taught one year in Henderson, Iowa, and a year and a half in Wyoming. She attended summer school every summer after normal school until she got married because she loved learning and going to school. Education was very important to her and she was so proud of the education accomplishments of her children and grandchildren.
Reba married Ray Dorsett on July 26, 1947, in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. They lived on their ranch until Ray’s passing in 1984.
Reba and Ray had six children: Charles, Donna, Frank, Anna, Rebecca and Frances. She was a ranch wife and partner, teacher, 4-H club leader and sewing leader, member of the local extension club, lifelong learner, substitute school teacher much to the chagrin of her children.
She moved to Gillette in 1984, after her husband died. She volunteered at the Rockpile Museum for ten years, was an active participant at the Campbell County Senior Center, was a member of the Eagles and the VFW, and attended the Presbyterian Church.
She was an avid and prolific painter and enjoyed making ceramics. She lived on her own until she was 93, when she moved to the Pioneer Manor Nursing Home and then to The Legacy Living and Rehabilitation Center.
Reba was preceded in death by her husband, Ray; her son, Charles (died at birth); her three older siblings; a niece; and her parents. She is survived by her younger sister, Frances Holmes; a sister-in-law, Dorothy Maffitt; a niece and two nephews; her children Donna (Sam) Bennett, Frank (Carla) Dorsett, Anna (John) Morris, Rebecca Dorsett and Frances (Richard) Crozier; thirteen grandchildren and twenty-one great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in Gillette at 3:30 p.m., July 17, 2018 at Mt. Pisgah Cemetery Chapel, 804 S. Emerson. Inurnment will take place at Pine Slope Cemetery in Belle Fourche at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Rockpile Museum or to the Bingo Fund at The Legacy to support her favorite activity during her time in long term care.
Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Roberts & Isburg Funeral Chapel of Sundance. Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com