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Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dorothy Stow

By Nancy Harper and Josh Selo


A city and a community are not the same thing.


You see, a city is just a collection of homes. An assortment of people occupying a specific geographic area.


But a community is something altogether different.


A community is a group of people with vision and heart. People who care for their neighbors. People who give back by volunteering. People who make a difference.


A community is made up of people who commit their time, energy and talents for the greater good. People who channel their leadership and passion to make the community the best it can be.


And who makes it possible for a city to become a community? The helpers. People like Dorothy Stow, a long time community leader and volunteer that has had an enormous impact in and around our community. With Dorothy’s passing last month, our community mourns her loss and celebrates her legacy.


Dorothy and her husband, Darryl, lived in Cupertino for over 50 years, raised two children, Douglas and Denise, had long-term careers, and always found time to devote their time and talents actively volunteering in the community.

Dorothy & Darryl Stow

Beginning in 1992, Dorothy volunteered to help with the Cupertino Community Services (CCS) Barbeque, which was the start of her long volunteer commitment to what is today West Valley Community Services.


Dorothy served as Board Chair for Cupertino Community Services in 1997 and was a CCS/WVCS Board Member for 12 years. Her other community service endeavors included: Vice President of Finance for the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce, President (and a founding member) Cupertino Library Foundation, President Inner Wheel Club of Cupertino and PTA President Eaton School. Dorothy also co-chaired the Chamber’s annual Citizen of the Year banquet for three years.


In a front page story, the July 23, 1997 edition of the Cupertino Courier named Dorothy “Mrs. Cupertino”. In that article, the Courier quoted CCS Executive Director, Mary Ellen Chell: “Dorothy Stow doesn’t just live in Cupertino, she LIVES Cupertino”. The Courier article also used the title, “Doesn’t Know No”, as a testament to the persistence and passion Dorothy brought to all of her community work.


In 1997, Dorothy and her husband, Darryl, received the CREST (Cupertino Recognizes Extra Steps Taken) Award. Dorothy was also honored with the Service to Mankind Award by the Cupertino Sertoma Club in 1997. Dorothy and Darryl received the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce “Citizens of the Year” Award in 1999.


In addition, Dorothy served on the De Anza Community College Commission for 10 years. During each of those years, she worked on the highly successful fundraiser, “Night of Magic”. The Stows also established the Stow Family Scholarship at De Anza College, encouraging educational advancement for struggling single parents.


Here at WVCS, the creation of our office and the adjacent Vista Village affordable housing complex was spearheaded by a core group of community leaders which included Dorothy. These key leaders worked diligently to gain the City’s approval, secure the land and resources to plan, develop and open the current complex, which culminated in the grand opening in 2003. For her commitment to the fight against hunger and homelessness in our community, West Valley Community Services honored Dorothy and long-time volunteer Kay Lohmiller in 2016 as the first ever “Champions of Compassion” at the annual Chefs of Compassion event.


Mr. Rogers famously said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” How lucky we all were to have a helper like Dorothy Stow in our community. The legacy of compassion, leadership, and volunteerism that Dorothy embodied will live on in our hearts and minds forever. She will be greatly missed.


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