Dolores T. Van Nest
November 17, 1946 – January 8, 2020
Dolores Thommen “Dee” Van Nest passed away peacefully January 8th 2020, at the University of Maryland Medical Center. There nearly five months, and though ill, her inherent positive spirit remained, and all those who visited or cared for her were met with grace and her infectious smile.
Dee was born on the 17th of November, 1946 in Baltimore Maryland, the daughter of John “Jack” and Helen Thommen.
She met her husband, Gary Van Nest, at the Washington Boat Show, and they were married in 1973, at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis. Throughout their 47 years of marriage, St. Mary’s was the pillar of many celebrations including the baptism of their two children, Jesse, now deceased, and Meredith. In 2006, they celebrated the sacrament of marriage between Meredith and their beloved son-in-law, David Van de Kamp. And in 2010, and 2012, they celebrated the baptisms of their two grandchildren, Samuel, 9, and Lisa, 7.
Following in the artistic footsteps of her well-renowned grandfather, a lead silversmith with Kirk Steiff in Baltimore Maryland, Dee graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. However, her family would argue her true talents were in her artistic cooking. She found a love of oils measured in flavor and tablespoons as opposed to hues of color.
In the late 1990’s, when her family and friends just couldn’t eat another bite, she turned to local cooking competitions to stretch her creative muscles. Standing up against some of the area’s most seasoned chefs, this home-cook always took center stage with never-before-seen culinary masterpieces. In her first competition, the 1997 Crisfield Maryland Crab Cooking Contest, she took the Grand Prize and repeated this feat in 2002. She also won The Maryland Rockfish Cooking Contest Grand Prize in 1998, and the Phillips Crab Recipe Contest in 1999, where her winning dish was awarded a spot on the Phillips Seafood Restaurant menu.
Her unique combination of artistic talents and endless energy proved to be a gift to all who were invited into her home. Her hospitality was reminiscent of bygone days of gracious, elegant hosting, while her infectious humor and humbleness put anyone and everyone at ease to simply enjoy good times together.
Dee was also blessed with an infallible passion for travel and experiencing local fare, art, and shopping – she was known for planning the next trip before getting home from the first! Although not a fan of air travel, this Chesapeake girl would often take the more familiar route–by sea, cruising islands as far north as Quebec and as far south as Aruba, with her family and close friends.
All these passions blended together into a “gentle giant” when she joined the Potomac Valley Irish Wolfhound Club in 1990. Having had an affinity for these beautiful animals since childhood, she enjoyed 20 years as a member of the club, chairing their annual Irish Wolfhound Speciality Dog Show for 17 years straight. Each April, under her kind and capable wings, 175-200 gentle giants and their owner/handlers would descend on Quiet Waters Park, in Annapolis for what quickly became one of the most well-respected Irish Wolfhound Specialty Shows in the nation. These dogs and their passionate owners enriched her life in more ways than we’ll ever know.
When she wasn’t in the kitchen, on the move or in the show ring, she enjoyed a 39 year career with the Maryland State Law Library as a Research Librarian. Dee collaborated with appellate justices, attorneys and law clerks researching complex legal issues. She was also intimately involved with the designing of the Special Collections Room which preserves and displays John James Audobon Birds of America elephant folio prints, visible even today as you enter the library. Retiring in 2011, she said the “best part of her job is that it was never boring.” Fairly certain Gary, her husband of 47 years would say the same about Dee.
In life, Dee was a fearless and determined woman who loved with all her might and fought like a lion through adversity most will never experience. Her grit and grace through it all will continue to inspire those who were fortunate to have known and loved her.
The arrangements for her celebration of life are:
Friday, 17 January 2020, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Viewing will be held at John M. Taylor Funeral Home, 147 Duke of Gloucester Street, Annapolis.
Saturday, 18 January 2020, 10:30 AM. A celebration of Dee’s life at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 109 Duke of Gloucester Street, Annapolis. Followed by a Committal Service, 12:00 PM, Lakemont Memorial Gardens, 900 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville. Wake to follow at Bay Ridge Community Pool Club House at 2 Herndon Avenue, Annapolis.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the SPCA of your choice.
10:30 am - 11:30 am
St. Mary's Church
109 Duke of Gloucester Street
2:00 pm - 2:15 pm
Lakemont Memorial Gardens
900 W Central Avenue
- Visitation Friday, January 17, 2020
Dolores T. Van Nest
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January 14, 2020
My name is Sallie Mullen, and I am a high school classmate of Dee's. We went to Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson. At our annual holiday luncheon this past weekend, I shared with the 22 members of Dee's class who were in attendance that she had died, and we shared memories of our days with her at NDP. On behalf of the Class of 1964, our deepest sympathies to the Van Nest family. I personally had not seen Dee in many years - sounds like I missed out on someone very special . . .
January 12, 2020
I will miss you and our daily phone calls, dearest friend.