Cover photo for Dorothy Lee Sledge's Obituary
Dorothy Lee Sledge Profile Photo

Dorothy Lee Sledge

August 5, 1922 — March 17, 2024

Winston-Salem, NC

Dorothy Lee Sledge

Dorothy Lee Sewall Sledge died at Brookridge Retirement Community in Winston-Salem, NC, on March 17, 2024. She was 101 years old. 

She is survived by her beloved husband of over 74 years, Randall Dothan Sledge of the home, three children and their spouses, Jonathan Edward Sledge (Deborah Norton) of Raleigh, NC; Richard William Sledge (Molly Sledge) of Ft. Collins, CO; and Martha Lee Sledge (Steven Hornsby), of New York, NY; 9 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; her brothers and their spouses, Edward Reeves Sewall (Barbara Overton Sewall) and Robert Winslow Sewall (Marlys Pearson Sewall); numerous nieces and nephews; and countless friends and colleagues.

She is preceded in death by an infant son, Timothy Randall Sledge; her parents, Edward Bradstreet Sewall and Lorena Reeves Sewall; and her sister, Mary Ida Sewall Finnie. 

Dorothy Sewall was born on August 5, 1922, in Minneapolis, MN, to Edward Bradstreet Sewall and Lorena Reeves Sewall, the second of four children. She shared the challenges of growing up during the Great Depression, moving several times during those years between Minneapolis and St. Paul, but in describing her childhood, she focused on fond memories: family trips to several of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, including a lake trip for her 5th birthday for which her mother made a carousel birthday cake; Christmases with 3 of her aunts who lived together in St. Paul; dinners cooked by her maternal grandmother who lived with them; attending school through Grade 8 in a one-room school with a teacher (Miss Chase) whom she adored. 

She graduated high school from Minnehaha Academy in 1939, and then worked in the family business, Sewall Gear Manufacturing. She enrolled in Bob Jones University (then in Cleveland, TN), graduating in 1947 with a degree in Speech. While there she met Randall Dothan Sledge. 

Their courtship began in the college dining hall. Upper-level female students were assigned as hostess to a dining table where the students ate family style, the rest of the students rotating every few weeks. Randall rotated to sit at the dining table where Dorothy was the hostess, and being the good hostess, she remained at the table conversing with everyone as the other students finished eating and left. Randall was typically the last student at the table: slow eater or already entranced? You be the judge. 

After a few months getting to know each other in person and two years of long-distance epistolary courtship with a few visits sprinkled in, she and Randall married on August 12, 1949, in St. Paul, Minnesota, on what everyone remembers as a blistering hot summer day for Minnesota. And so they began their partnership in life and ministry. It is hard to talk about Dorothy without talking about Randall, as their love bonded them closely, but I hope you can get a sense of her here. 

Dorothy graduated from New Orleans Theological Seminary with a Masters in Religious Education in 1950, and with Randall began their ministry partnership. While Randall finished his Doctor of Theology degree and pastored churches, she bore and lost their first child and started her work as “the wife of the pastor” (a full-time job in those days, though unpaid), in south Louisiana churches in Iowa and Meringouin. She was a long way geographically and culturally from Minnesota. 

The couple began a peripatetic era, alternating between national and international living and work. While in Spanish Language school in Costa Rica, they added their son Jonathan to the family. Then through the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention, they worked together in Peru and added their son Richard to the family. 

After four years in Peru, they returned to Louisiana, added their daughter Martha to the family, and Dorothy served again as the “pastor’s wife” in Shreveport, and Winnsboro, Louisiana, and was a leader in the Louisiana Women’s Missionary Union (WMU). She was well-known around the state for her skits and character sketches that she wrote to accompany her presentations. A simple prop such as a hat or scarf could turn her into a completely different person.

After their children were “flown and grown,” they returned to mission work through the International Mission Board, this time in Colombia, where Dorothy taught public speaking at the Baptist Seminary in Cali for 10 years. They loved their missionary families in both Peru and Colombia and developed life-long friendships, praying daily for everyone they had known by name, every morning.

At retirement, most people seek a quiet life and settle down. Not Dorothy and Randall. During the first part of their retirement, they were based in Shreveport, Louisiana, where Dorothy regularly taught Sunday School, led in the WMU again, and spoke publicly around the state about their work overseas; she and Randall also volunteered in short-term positions with the IMB back in Colombia and in war-torn Bosnia.

In addition to the travel for work, they also travelled extensively for pleasure: they finished off their 50- state checklist with a trip to Hawaii for their 50th wedding anniversary, and traveled in the Middle East, Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, and Mexico.

Dorothy and Randall moved to Brookridge Retirement Community, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 2009, to live for their remaining years. They still travelled to see family and friends, welcoming grandchildren and great grandchildren with glee. Dorothy loved visiting with friends and family. COVID alone stopped their footloose traveling, though they still enjoyed shorter trips to the North Carolina mountains.

If Dorothy Lee Sewall Sledge could be summarized in a single sentence, I would say she had a great love for God, for Randall, and her family, and that she had an adventurous spirit.

She was beloved by many and is already greatly missed.

I can almost hear her say, “Where should we go next?”

A service will be held on Saturday March 23, 2024. at 11:00 am at Clear Springs Cemetery in the Martin community of Red River Parish, Louisiana, with burial to follow. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Lottie Moon Offering of the International Mission Board (imb.org) or a charitable organization of your choice. Written notes of condolence may be sent to the home. Online condolences may be made at www.hayworth-miller.com



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Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, March 23, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Clear Springs Cemetery

, Martin, LA 71019

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