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Dorothy MacConkey's Lasting Lessons Will Be Missed

Fairfax Station resident Dorothy MacConkey was known as an instructor and participant, living an active life. At 76, she passed this legacy on to her family.

After a moving rendition of "Over the Rainbow" by Will Lockamy on the piano, her family shared memories and lessons she left behind.

Manners are what granddaughter Ashleigh learned. She remembered being corrected during a recent outing.

"It's called the 'ladies room,'" her grandmother said.

Granddaughter Meghan MacConkey quoted a proverb from the Book of Proverbs in the Bible.

"Whoever loves instruction, loves knowledge," she said.

Grandson Jonathan MacConkey remembered the phone conversations, mostly centered on him and what was happening in his life. She asked how his golf game was going.

"She was always interested in what I liked," he said.

On Jan. 30, MacConkey died of a sudden illness. Though she had experienced a bout with breast cancer, her death was unexpected. Her husband, Karl Schmeidler, remembered her energy as a driving force in her life. He noted her participation in the Chamber of Commerce, Salvation Army, Rotary Club, and more recently being appointed as the executive director of the Springfield Cultural Center. They traveled together frequently.

"She was curious about everything that went on. She participated with boundless energy. [She] loved people, and they were friends," he said.

Last year, she was appointed executive director of the Springfield Cultural Center and took charge of its endless search for a permanent home. As a first step in office, she started a monthly activity consisting of lectures and learning opportunities, reflecting her zest for learning. On Nov. 11, she kicked off a lecture series and enlisted her husband as the first speaker. In February, she planned a lecture on Native American culture. She also took on the job of maintaining a calendar for the group.

MacConkey was not an artist herself but more of an experienced organizer. She taught sociology at George Mason University from 1966-82, worked with the United Way for years and took part in the Springfield Days festival. In her spare time she concentrated on her garden at her Fairfax Station home. She was also a member of the Dominion Valley Garden Club.