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Dorothy Goresky: A long and well-live church life

Dorothy Goresky died August 12, 2023, at the age of 97.  For 65 of those years she was a member of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. That’s a long time!  Until the last decade when she was in care, Dorothy was a stellar example of someone who knew how to “do church”. 

Starting in the late 1950s with assisting Margaret Murdoch in teaching Sunday School in the old church on West 10th she moved forward to take on a range of leadership roles at UCV as well as being involved in her work as a physician and mother of four children. 

Poking through the archives I found Dorothy’s name listed over and over again. She was twice a member of the Board and twice the Chair of Church Planning/Coordination council for multi-year periods. She was also a member of Finance Committee, co-chair of Canvas, co-chair of Personnel, head of Nuclear Disarmament Committee, and sat on Nomination, Sabbatical and Social Justice Committees. She was active in Daytimers, and taught Stress Management at the Unitarian Family Life Centre.

She was especially proud of being involved, with other church members, in animating (within the congregation and denomination) the findings of the 1986 UN report “Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future,” chaired by Norwegian Prime Minister Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. 

For years she commandeered a crew of people for the monthly job of folding and stuffing the Bulletin into envelopes for mailing to hundreds of members. She also instigated the project to get the “Random Recollections and Reflections” book by and about Harold Douglas Brown done (2003) and played a role in obtaining the portrait of Harold that now hangs in the Fireside Room. 

At a personal level, Dorothy consistently explored her own journey of spirituality. After taking the Rev. Hewett-led CREDO course in the 1970s, she said “UCV has left me open to examine” a wide range of different beliefs. In an interview for the 2009 Centenary Oral History Project, she described engaging in daily spiritual exercises inspired by Deepak Chopra, and said “the strongest spiritual aspect of my life is a deep feeling of being connected to everyone and everything.” She was more comfortable with the word “divine” rather than “God” to express this sense of inter-connectedness and also said “there some things that one cannot put into words.” 

However, we who remember her can put some words together. Dorothy was a warm, firm, committed, principled and gracious person who took on church leadership roles as well as providing her “self” to the ongoing social and governance life of this beloved community. The archival record shows that for decades, along with a cohort of other strong same-aged women within UCV, Dorothy held up more than half the UCV sky. We are grateful for her long, consistent, and kind service to this congregation.

– Diana Ellis, with files from the UCV archives.
(For information on Dorothy’s family, life, and work outside of UCV, go to