Dorothy Jean Dunbar Lachenmaier

August 1, 1922April 30, 2021

Dorothy Jean Dunbar Lachenmaier passed away peacefully on April 30, 2021 at the age of 98, knowing she was loved and cared for by family and exceptional professional caregivers. With midwestern roots, she valued straight talk and family time. After her mother died when she was four years old, she and older brother Neal (Jake) Dunbar were set adrift growing up during the Depression era. Loving aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents filled much of the void, and supported her father and stepmother by helping raise them along with two step-siblings. Dorothy spent hot Southern Illinois summers on a family farm and school semesters in Chicago with her father. Every home had a piano, and Dorothy’s ability to play by ear was an anchor to her growing-up years.

After high school, she worked in a downtown Chicago bank, later moving during WWII to Westover Field, MA to be near Air Force brother Neal. She worked for the Department of War until she went to Southern Illinois University for a year of college. With the war over, she set her sights on becoming an airline hostess, something new and adventurous. Her father told her she’d never make it with her timid personality. Determined to prove him wrong, she accommodated the strict TWA hiring practices and set a new course. She loved flying and being part of the new age of aviation. She met a young co-pilot who shared her passion for travel and music, and soon fell in love. Like her, Bob Lachenmaier also went against his parents’ advice. They asked, “Why not get a ‘real job’ and take over your father’s successful tailoring business in Milwaukee?” His mother was fearful of his aviation career her entire life.

The disappointing caveat to the relationship was that back-in-the-day, hostesses could no longer fly if married. Husband Bob went on to become an international captain at TWA, while Dorothy was the captain of the family. They were married 57 years before his passing in 2003. Both shared generously their time and talents, enriching family life with adventures all over the world.

Dorothy was active in the Crystal Lake, Illinois community and participated in the Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society, PEO and the First Congregational Church. Her career was raising their children Barbara and Bob, and keeping connected with families in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas. At retirement, they moved west to San Diego where Dorothy and Bob enjoyed family, neighbors, PEO, Ranch Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church activities and traveling (especially cruising.) After her husband died, she made her own decision to leave San Diego to be closer to family in Houston, then New Orleans. She always made sure family knew “Who’s in charge” – even as she accepted living in new cities and residential care. “I’m supposed to give up San Diego for Houston?” But she did.

She is survived by Barbara Lachenmaier Spangenberg (Robert F) and Robert W. Lachenmaier, Jr. (Mary Anne), grandchildren Kate and Beth Spangenberg, Tom (Kathryn) and Tim Lachenmaier (Mattie), and three perfect great-grandchildren Emma Spangenberg Lynn, and Nora and Bradley Lachenmaier.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Poydras Home, Home Care Solutions, Passages Hospice, Rayne Memorial Methodist Church, or charity of choice. A private celebration service may be held in the future.


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


Dorothy Jean Dunbar Lachenmaier

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Donyell Recasner

May 10, 2021

Thank You for allowing us to share your journey with you Mrs. Lachenmaier. We will continue to bask in the memories that we've shared from you playing the piano and singing with friends, or being in attendance at all of our special events to planning your annual birthday party each August for you and your friends (that we had to keep a secret from you).

You have such a loving and supportive family. Barbara was always your biggest advocate! Thank you for sharing your mother with us. Mrs. Lachenmaier was a delight to have, so sweet and humble with her many accomplishments and world travels. I am forever grateful that our paths crossed.

We will continue to keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers. May you rest peacefully my friend until we meet again.

~Donyell Recasner ALM and your Eagles Trace Family