By Carol Canter
Like many of our BATW colleagues, I’m heartbroken and shocked to learn of Dorothy Aksamit’s sudden passing, and offer my condolences to her friends and family. We first learned the news from Dorothy’s daughter Inga Aksamit, an active and cherished member of our group:
“This is so hard to write about Mom’s passing on May 6, 2019. She was such an inspiration and incredible role model to me and so many people, (adventuring to the end when she traveled to a remote area of Mexico by herself just 3 before her death). Many of my friends have met her and formed their own bonds of friendship with her and she has a wide circle of friends from around the world. She emailed me late on Sunday night making plans for a visit and died less than 24 hours later so the end was mercifully brief and I was by her side. Dad is hanging in there and I’ll be staying with him. Needless to say, he’s missing his wife of 62 years terribly.”
Dorothy was a fascinating woman, as well as an inspiration to me for as long as I’ve known her. She never missed our annual oyster bake at Tomales Bay, and I so appreciated her always joining us — with her dear friend and our colleague Maria Lenhart.
At our most recent bash in October, some new friends attended, and within minutes of arriving, came up to me stunned that they had met the only other American that intimately knew a remote Indonesian island that all had actually lived on. I don’t know the name of the island, but of course Bev and John’s world travels and overseas work had overlapped long ago with that of Dorothy and her family. Just a small but lovely coincidence that happens among our group of well-traveled world-exploring friends and colleagues.
Bev later clarified: “I am always fascinated when the stars come together to reveal the statistically impossible occurrence can occur. The Highlands of New Guinea were surely 3,000 on my list of possible topics that day! To reach that point on the globe she [Dorothy] had to have been a real traveler!”
Here are a few reflections from others grieving this sudden and unexpected loss:
From our former BATW colleague, celebrated children’s book author Maxine Schur:
“My dear friend Dorothy (Dottie) Aksamit passed away suddenly. Dorothy was a one-of-a-kind travel writer–passionate and authentic. She was a highly-curious world explorer who always probed deeper to understand culture.
Beyond that, she was a generous, kind friend and she was fun. Below is a photo of her at my birthday party in October. As my birthday was close to Halloween, she arrived in black, spiders and all.”
Maria Lenhart: “I enjoyed many travel experiences with Dorothy over the past 15 years. Below is a photo is from our last excursion up to Clear Lake where we stayed at the Tallman Hotel. It was such a joy to have known her. (Dorothy is in a red top and black jacket under an arbor.)”
Lee Daley: “Very sad news. Dorothy was a beautiful soul, an intrepid traveler with a loving and generous spirit. Condolences to her family especially Inga and of course, her husband, a reminder to appreciate all those who add so much to our lives.”
Susan Alcorn: I didn’t know Dorothy well, but she was always smiling when I saw her at our BATW events. She made me feel special because she kept track of what I was doing on my hiking adventures. I’ll miss seeing her!”
Lee Foster to Inga”: Your mother was a wonderful person. I got to know her on an Egypt Press Trip a while back. She was gracious, inquisitive, informed, respectful, and fun. She lives on in you.”
John Compisi: “Here, here to Dorothy Aksamit for a life well lived!! #RIP”
Thank you, Inga, for sharing with us all this truly sad news. I love learning that Dorothy had just spent a week exploring a remote corner of Mexico, continuing to do what she loved up to the end. And I love the comment from your husband, Steve Mullen: “The best mother-in-law a guy could ever have. She’s missed greatly.”
Such loss is painful, and a reminder to cherish one another while we can — which we do so well in BATW.
*Please join us for a celebration of life for Dorothy Aksamit on the afternoon of July 11, 2019 in Sausalito. Please RSPV at EventBrite, where the location and time will be provided. Feel free to share the link with others we may have missed.
Thank you to all of you who cared about and shared good times with Dorothy. Carroll and I have appreciated all the calls, letters, emails and other outpouring of support during this difficult time.