Dorothy Barnum Venter
Dorothy Barnum Venter, of Southbury, CT, died peacefully in her home at Pomperaug Woods on April 27, 2021. She was 107 years old, and she lived an incredibly rich and meaningful life. She was born six years before women were granted the right to vote, a right she never took for granted. She saw Civil War veterans march in parades as a child, survived two pandemics and two World Wars, attended college during the Great Depression, and witnessed many world-altering events over the last century.
Born in Naugatuck, CT to the late Earl M. and Louise Hendrickson Barnum, she was a graduate of Naugatuck High School and Sweet Briar College in Virginia. She shared forty-five very happy years with her beloved husband, the late Cdr. Josiah G. Venter, US Naval Academy 1912. Together, they presided over an ever-expanding family from their home on Johnsons Point in Branford, CT, where she was always active gardening, swimming, walking and sailing. Following Josiah’s death in 1983, Dorothy truly became the Matriarch, providing counsel, support and much love to all of her family.
All her life, she was a voracious reader with a passion for American History and Historical Preservation. Her special interest was The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America, an organization dedicated to the preservation of historic properties as well as to the education of future generations in the core values of the Founding Fathers. She served on the Board of the NSCDA in The State of Connecticut in many different roles, and generously and enthusiastically supported all of their activities for over 40 years. Recently they honored her by naming the new library at The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield, CT for her. Like her grandmother, she also enjoyed writing, was a longstanding member of the Fortnightly Club in New Haven, and published her own comprehensive family Memoir.
A generous supporter of her church and community, she served as Board of Managers President of The Women’s Seaman’s Friends Society of New Haven. She was a Board member and past president of the former Day-Prospect Hill School. She also was one of the original fifty charter members of the New Haven English Speaking Union, was an active member of the New Haven Garden Club, and was a longstanding member of the New Haven Lawn Club.
She was predeceased by her son Josiah B. Venter of New Haven, her stepson J. De Forest Venter of Branford, and her stepdaughter Phyllis V. Savage of Tustin, CA. She is survived by her daughter Mary Lou V. Briggs (Jim) of Williamstown, MA, son Peter B. Venter (Niki) of Otisfield ME, stepdaughter Joan V. Linn of Washington DC, daughter-in-law Martha R. Venter of New Haven, stepdaughter-in-law Patricia W. Venter of Guilford, plus eighteen grandchildren and thirty-six great grandchildren.
Remarkably and as recently as three weeks ago she was still driving her own car, and right up until she died she was mentally sharp and always eager to speak with members of her family about current events or with love and interest about all aspects of our everyday lives. A private Memorial Service will be held later this year. We will all miss her terribly.
In lieu of flowers Donations in her memory may be made to the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Connecticut, or to the charity of your choice.
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