CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Dorothy Ott, a beloved and longtime staff member at Matoaca High School, was killed in a South Chesterfield crash Monday afternoon.
The 64-year-old died after her 2001 Honda CRV, traveling east on Woodpecker Road, left the roadway and struck a tree, according to police.
Matoaca High School is mourning the loss of the woman Principal John Murray called the “face of the front office.”
Ott was the front office secretary at the school for 24 years.
“Acknowledge that Dorothy was a community icon because she effectively built community where she worked and where she lived. She had a tremendous heart – she is irreplaceable,” said Murray.
"Dorothy walked the halls every day during her lunch break. She greeted us every morning. If you ever called or walked into Matoaca, you talked to Dorothy," said coworker Jill Anderson.
Comforting, encouraging and loving are just a few ways Murray described Ott.
In a letter to the Matoaca community, Murray says Ott modeled for others how far simply being a good person can move a larger group forward.
“Ms. Ott, a Matoaca icon with a giant heart, will be deeply missed; however, her legacy will remain Matoaca strong through the years to come,” Murray wrote.
Ott leaves behind a husband of 45 years, a son and daughter and two grandchildren.
Ott's daughter, Toni Ott Fuller, said her mother was driving home from a doctor's appointment when she crashed. Witnesses said the road was wet from recent rainfall.
"She was strong and the pillar of our family," Ott Fuller described. "Matoaca was her blood and she loved it. She’d never go anywhere else and loved just being a mom and a grandma."
Dorothy helped out during every home Warrior football game. Teachers would stop by her desk to grab a lollipop and to hear some advice.
"She would always be the person to go to sit in the office with and she'll make you feel better," former Matoaca High teacher Charlee Pence recalled. "She would help you and she treated you as someone like your family."
Many of her coworkers nicknamed her "Mama Ott." She would bring in homemade desserts like lemon bars and always had snacks on hand.
After the final bell Tuesday, many staff members and students walked around the school in her honor as Ott was known to do during lunch.
Police are still investigating the crash.
Anyone with information should contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.
The family will receive friends from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday at the J.T. Morriss and Son Funeral Home Petersburg Chapel. A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday at Southlawn Memorial Park. A funeral procession will leave the funeral home for the cemetery on Friday at 10:30 a.m. and all are invited to join.
In-lieu of flowers you're asked to make donations to the Matoaca High School, Dorothy Pierce Ott Memorial fund. Send Checks to Matoaca High School, 17700 Longhouse Lane, S. Chesterfield 23838, made out to Matoaca Athletic Booster Club.