Thomas Wayne Dovel

June 6, 1949October 25, 2020

Thomas Wayne Dovel passed away on Sunday October 25, 2020. Tom was born June 6, 1949 to Willard and Ruth Dovel in Harrisonburg Virginia. Throughout his lifetime, he never lost a fond and earnest attachment to Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley.

Tom attended Rockingham County Schools and played football at Turner Ashby High School where he graduated in 1967. He continued playing football and added field events to his athletic range at Bridgewater College where he graduated in 1971. At James Madison University, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Education.

He began working at Stone-Robinson Elementary School in 1972 where he taught physical education for 35 years and met Connie, the love of his life and partner of 47 years. He was fortunate and grateful to work with one of his best friends, Patsy Reardon, and together they fostered a positive community for the children they dedicated their careers to educating and encouraging. Always a hard worker, he also held part time jobs and kept up with one of his greatest joys, joining the football coaching staff at Albemarle High School. His love of football earned him the nickname Touchdown, an affectionate play on his initials. Even during the lean years, he remained a loyal Redskins fan.

Equally comfortable in a weight room or pollinating flowers, he loved the natural world and spent hours in the summers tending his gardens and hybridizing daylilies. He registered 12 cultivars with the American Daylily Society, each named to honor a person or place that had special significance to him.

In retirement he didn’t slow down, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and working a few jobs, most notably at Southern States where he found real friendships with staff members and customers. Creative and curious, he enjoyed photography, cooking, sketching and a daily appointment with the newspaper .

Tom was unwavering in his commitment to leave every place better than he found it and this world was no exception. Teaching by example, he also showed his children how to be adults who value decency, humility and moral integrity. He was endlessly proud of his family. Visits with his first granddaughter brought him a lot of happiness. He shaved a year old beard out of concern that he looked too scary for her with it. He never missed a chance to spend quiet moments with his wife; in the garden, by the lake, on the porch swing or watching a classic movie. His favorite foods were bacon, peanut butter and over cooked green beans (with bacon.) He liked to watch his shows in the evening-a blend of Turner Classic Movies, Salvage Dawgs, American Pickers and a carefully curated selection of sitcoms. Always up for a good day trip, he liked the ride and seeing the sights as least as much as wherever he ended up. Anyone going with him would get a friendly knee squeeze and a “thanks for coming with me” on the way home. He was funny; with a distinctive, contagious laugh and a penchant for cracking jokes. He did not suffer trivialities, preferring to use his trademark dry wit sense of humor to bring laughter to both happy and heavy moments. He was a good man; selfless, loveable, tough and gentle, one of a kind. He showed those of us who were privileged to love him the extraordinary potential of a simple human heart.

Tom is predeceased by his parents, his brother Gary and his sister-in-law Martha. He is survived by his wife, the adoring “sunshine of his life,” his “blue sky,” Constance Miller Dovel of Charlottesville, children Cassandra, Nicholas (Kendall) and Elizabeth, granddaughter Eleanor, brother Warren (Sharon), brother-in-law Don Miller, nieces and nephews Julie (Allen) Paul, Eric and Scott Dovel and Fawn Turner. How lucky we were to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date. The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to Tom’s favorite charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital,



No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Show Your


Thomas Wayne Dovel

have a memory or condolence to add?

Roxanne Broadbent

November 13, 2020

Dear Connie,
I am so very saddened to learn of Tom's passing. Although it has been many years since our time together at Stone-Robinson, I continue to hold very fond memories of you both. I remember well the baby shower for your first child. How wonderful that you and Tom nurtured such a lovely family together. May the love of your family and friends support you during your journey of loss and grief.

Sending love and deepest condolences,
Roxanne Broadbent

Mike Lester

November 11, 2020

Thank you again for being my gym teacher and best of luck to your family

Keith Hammon

November 8, 2020

Connie and Family,

Although I wasn't as close with Tom as so many, I feel the obituary tells who Tom was and is in the memories of those who knew him. His dedication to his family and students was noted throughout his life and is a example for all of us. When I use the planters on our back porch I will always think of Tom.
Will God continue to hold you in his hand during this difficult time.

Pat Morgan

November 7, 2020

Dear Connie and Family,
I am deeply saddened by Tom's death. He was one of a kind. As was noted by many of the children he taught P.E. to. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him, especially his family.
My thoughts and prayers are with you as you travel down this road of loss and grief. God bless you and protect you.
Pat Morgan

Dotty Bohannon

November 6, 2020

I only had the chance to work with Tom one year at Stone Robinson but he was extremely kind & helpful to me as a first year teacher which I’ve never forgotten. Happily we got to reunite later when he came to AHS to coach.
He was a great guy with an infectious laugh that will be missed and I send
my sympathy to Connie and the entire family during this difficult time.

Kelly Chidester

October 29, 2020

So sorry for the loss of Mr. Dovel. I had him in the 80's as a P.E. teacher at Stone Robinson and he was great..

Sandra Hoffman

October 29, 2020

Connie and so sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. You and the children are in my thoughts and prayers.

With deepest sympathy,
Sandi Hoffman and family

Marcy Dixon-Rampini

October 28, 2020

Mr Dovel was one of my favorite teachers at Stone Robinson. He seemed tough but took the time to tell me in 5th grade that he felt I could be successful in sports and to be sure to try out for track and sports in middle and high school. He gave me the confidence to do so. Teachers who take the time to praise and give confidence to young students are so important. I am sad to hear he has passed- i will always remember him fondly.

Cecily Reynolds

October 28, 2020

What a treasure from my son's elementary school days! It hadn't been that long since I had seen him, looking great, & got to share with him just how special he was! Mr. Dovel, you were loved and will be missed!

Annette Couch-Jareb

October 28, 2020

We, our whole family, send our deepest, most sincere sympathies. Mr. Dovel was a part of all of our lives, a part of what has formed us, and we honor his memory.


Learn more about the Dovel name