Doris Springer, 80, of Olathe.
When and how she died:
March 20 of a stroke.
The youngest of four children, Doris grew up on a farm in Nickerson, Kan., north of Hutchinson. Eager to live in the big city, she moved to Kansas City at 18 to attend business college.
Her husband-to-be, C.W. Springer, was drafted during the Korean War and maintained a correspondence with Doris while there. When he returned, they married.
They started a construction company, a venture they shared for 25 years, and added two children and a new home to the picture.
“She enjoyed suburban life,” said her son, Larry Springer, who fondly remembers his mother singing around the house when he was growing up.
Doris’ kind, generous and caring nature showed through the time she took attending to others.
She sang in the church choir, served on the De Soto school board and remained active in community issues and engaged in global events.
“She’d listen to people’s problems and not be judgmental,” Larry said. “She was very accepting.”
After her husband’s death and her retirement in 2000, she began volunteering to fill her free time. Doris focused her work on helping the needy, particularly children and families. Serving the poor without judgment became her calling. Volunteer work began to consume more of her time until it was more like a second career than a hobby.
She started at the Salvation Army family lodge, serving the most precarious and the most needy, Larry said.
“She was an extraordinary woman of Christian faith,” added Chris Icenogle, former pastor of what used to be known as Olathe Covenant Church, the church Doris attended. “She was brilliant. She was widely read. She loved music of all types. All of that came into focus in terms of her love, compassion and passion for anyone that she met that needed help.”
At the Olathe Salvation Army, she answered phones, recruited other volunteers, filled the food pantry, entered data into the computer and delivered pans to restaurants for food donations.
At the 44-bed family lodge, she interacted with families and even did laundry. In 2001, she was named volunteer of the year.
“The most remarkable thing about Doris is that as principled and committed as she was, there was not a drop of guile in her blood. She was most gracious, kind, loving and I won’t even use the word forgiving because that implies that she thought you needed forgiving,” Chris said.
Doris’ church was affiliated with Johnson County Interfaith Hospitality Network, so it only seemed natural for her to help there as well.
In rotation with a network of other churches, the church served as a sanctuary for families with children needing shelter for a week at a time. As part of the ministry, someone needed to be on-site and awake all night in case of emergency.
She and Chris often shared a night shift together. To pass the time, she told stories of her life and how she won her fight with cancer. He told of his wife and kids.
They discussed books, theology, life, family, politics, history. When the conversation grew weary, she’d pick up the newspaper and read something aloud, rejuvenating a stream of consciousness conversation that went on for hours.
Chris looked forward to the all-nighters and remembers them as incredibly rich.
“What a remarkable, spirited and committed woman she was,” he said. “I’ve been in ministry for 35 years. I’ve never met anyone like her.”
Survivors include: two sons and two brothers.