Dorothy Knott Preston, PhD

May 23, 1932January 5, 2021

Dorothy Knott Preston, PhD, 88, passed away on January 5, 2021 and is now at peace with our Lord and Savior. She was born May 23, 1932 in the house that her father built on the family farm on Riley Hill Road in eastern Wake County to the late Joseph Thomas Knott, Sr. and Ethel Robertson Knott. Dot graduated from Knightdale High School in 1950 and Meredith College in 1954. She married the love of her life Edwin Smith Preston Jr. in 1955, having a three-year honeymoon while he was stationed with the United States Navy in Honolulu, Hawaii. She earned a Masters degree from Columbia University and a second Masters degree and her PhD in Statistics from North Carolina State University.

Dot loved to teach. She taught at the prestigious Kamehameha School in Hawaii, Hugh Morson High School in Raleigh, and began teaching at her beloved Meredith College in 1961. Many recognized her license plate PI R SQ around Raleigh. Dot established the Judge Edwin S. Preston, Jr. and Dorothy K. Preston Scholarship in Statistics at Meredith, awarded to a rising junior or senior who exhibits outstanding work in statistics, in memory of her adored Ed. She enjoyed teaching the Livingston Johnston Sunday School class and quizzing her family on their treasured history. She was particularly kind and encouraging to young Meredith alumnae faculty. After 35 years, she retired as Professor of Mathematics in 1997, but continued as class agent for the Class of ’54. For many years, she played the Cheshire Cat in Meredith’s quadrennial productions of Alice in Wonderland; following her retirement, she continued to attend Alice performances, taking great delight in the Cats who followed her in that role.

Dot loved her community and First Baptist Church of Raleigh on Salisbury Street and took a leadership role in both. She served as Church Deacon, President of Democratic Women and was an active member of the Anne Hathaway Book Club since 1973. She served on Fulbright Scholar trips to England, Japan and India, but cherished the yearly reunions of her 1950 class of Knightdale High School the most. She was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1984.

Dot was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, cousin, grandmother and friend to many. She is survived by her sons: Edwin S. Preston III of Ridgecrest and Joseph Ernest Preston (Holly) of Raleigh; grandchildren: Vivian Preston of Richmond, Parker Preston and Tate Preston of Raleigh; brother, J. T. Knott, Jr. of Knightdale; many cousins, nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, and nurse and friend: Linda Wetherington.

In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by her sisters: Catherine Ann Knott, Ethel Janis Knott Thompson, and beloved identical twin, Doris Knott Talley.

A private graveside service will be held on Sunday, January 10th and a celebration of her life will be held at a later time when we can all safely gather.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First Baptist Church Salisbury Street, or Meredith College - Mary Frances Preston Lecture Series.

Services by Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, 300 Saint Mary's St. Raleigh, NC.


  • A private graveside service will be held on Sunday, January 10th and a celebration of her life will be held at a later time when we can all safely gather.


Dorothy Knott Preston, PhD

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Marva Watkins

January 8, 2021

I was a student of Dr. Preston’s at Meredith and she was one of the most wonderful teachers I’ve ever had. She delighted in sharing her knowledge and was a joy to have conversations with, always leaving me glad I had seen her that day. She will be greatly missed.

Julia Williams

January 7, 2021

Dot saved Ensure bottles for me to use to fix flower arrangements to take to friends for several years. On May 5, 2020, I was taking 10 dozen roses from my garden to the nurses at Rex Hospital. I didn't have quite 10 dozen bottles, so I called Dot and asked if she had bottles I could pick up. She said Oh, yes! I picked them up--the exact number I needed. When the Hospital sent me some pictures of nurses with the roses, I immediately forwarded them to Dot. She was so pleased to be involved in this project!
Dot was always so happy and so gracious--a wonderful person to know!

Javain griffis

January 6, 2021

Joe and Holly
So sorry to hear of the passing of your mother. She was a beautiful woman.
I will be remembering you all during this difficult time.
You both are so special to me.