Dorothy Burrill of Marion, former director of Action for Opportunity in Pittsfield
Dorothy Elaine Burrill of Marion passed Jan. 21 after a long illness. Dorothy (Dot) Burrill was a lifelong social activist, educator, and mentor to hundreds of women and men on Cape Cod during her career. She graduated from Harvard University with a master’s degree in public administration after completing her undergraduate degrees at Cape Cod Community College and Boston University.
Dot was the co-founder and director of the Women in Transition Program and a professor at Cape Cod Community College. Earlier in her career, she was executive director for both Action for Opportunity and the Urban Coalition in Pittsfield, where she also served as president of the League of Women Voters (she went by her married name Dorothy Bejtlich while she lived in Berkshire County). She received many federal, state and local awards throughout her life for her outstanding advocacy work. Dot also served in the Peace Corps in her early 70s — stationed in Jamaica, she worked with local schools on an anti-bullying campaign.
An avid traveler, Dot visited the Caribbean frequently. She also traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and Australia. She loved to read, kayak and swim. And, boy, did she love to dance — cooking not so much! She was a courageous woman who fought tirelessly for social justice causes she embraced. She had an infectious laugh, and as one of her colleagues remembers, she was “warm and kind, but not to be underestimated.”
Dot’s energetic and passionate nature will be missed by her family, friends and colleagues. Her family is grateful for all those who helped during her years of illness, and want the community to know that she passed peacefully. Thank you, Dot, for your hard work, dedication to social justice, boundless energy, adventurous spirit, and for leaving the world a better place. A small family celebration will be held this summer in her honor.
She leaves behind her three children: Michael Bejtlich of Rochester, Nancy Benson of Mattapoisett, and Amy Silva of Marstons Mills; and six grandchildren: Matthew and Emily Bejtlich, Connor and Casey Mackenzie, and Jacob and Emma Silva.
Memorial donations can be made to Cape Cod Community College) Educational Foundation, Dorothy E. Burrill Scholarship Fund, 2240 Iyannough Road, West Barnstable, Massachusetts 02668