Dortha Pasley (Benson)

Published 5:46 pm Sunday, February 12, 2023

May 1, 1941-Feb. 8, 2023


Dortha E. Pasley (Benson), 81, of Decatur, passed away on Wednesday evening, Feb. 8, 2023, at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo from injuries sustained in an automobile accident weeks prior. She was born on May 1, 1941, in Lawrence, MI, the daughter of the late Adrian and Norma (Flashman) Lipp.
Dortha worked as a teacher for the Decatur Public Schools for 37 years, until her retirement. Dortha created the first girls’ basketball team and coached them. She was pivotal in creating this Decatur High School team. After her retirement from Decatur Schools, she created the Dortha Elaine Pasley Scholarship Fund & Grant to be awarded to Decatur High School Graduates. Dortha continued as a substitute teacher and kept the books for the sports team and also took the Senior pictures. Dortha never stood around idle; she kept moving. Dortha was lifeguard at Red Wolfe Park (Lake of the Woods) for 45 years and taught thousands of children and adults to swim. She would tell everyone; we live so close to lakes in Michigan and it was important to be able so swim. How many countless lives she has saved by making this such a dedicated mission here in Decatur. She inspired everyone she met along the way. Monkey, Airplane, Soldier! In 2022, the pavilion was dedicated in her honor for all her years of service to the community and is now known as the Dortha Pasley Pavilion.
What began as a hobby of buying run down homes in Decatur and making them beautiful turned into a full-blown mission. Over the years she acquired many dilapidated homes and brought them back to glory and wanted to offer affordable housing to all. Dortha truly loved her home here in Decatur and made an impact on every single person she met. This little town of ours is grateful she was here and changed so many lives. Her legacy will live on in all of us and her family will continue that legacy in her honor.
Surviving are her son, Daniel (Janice) Benson; three grandchildren, John Benson, Dr. Danny (Jennifer) Benson and Oliva Benson; two great-grandchildren, Aiden and Hannah Benson; four step-children, Mark Pasley, Glenn (Melissa) Pasley, Jennifer Pasley and Julie (Dan) Gerner; several step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren; two sisters, Marjorie Lipsey and Patricia LeSeur; one brother, James (Cathy) Lipp.
Preceding her in death were her parents and husband, Willie “Bill” Pasley.
A service to celebrate the life of Dortha will be held at 11 a.m., on Saturday, Feb. 18, at Decatur Bible Church, 80797 M-51, Decatur. Rev. Steven F. Pace will officiate. Interment will follow in Lakeside Cemetery, Decatur. Friends may visit with the family from 5-7 p.m., on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 16 & 17, at Newell Chapel- Starks Family Funeral Homes, 83313 M-51 Decatur. Memorial contributions in Dortha’s name may be directed to the Dortha Elaine Pasley Scholarship Fund. Those wishing to share a memory of Dortha online may do so atĀ