Dorothea F. Laughlin, 94, of Rumford, passed away surrounded by family at her home on Sunday, March 28, 2021. She was the wife of the late Richard D. Laughlin, Jr. They married in 1947 and were married for 58 years until his death in 2005. During the first thirteen years of their marriage, Dorothea and Richard lived in the City of Providence. In 1960, they moved to the city of East Providence after Richard designed and built their home at 125 Apulia Street.
Born in North Providence, she was a daughter of the late George H. and Ada (Taylor) Washington. Dorothea was employed as a school bus driver for the City of East Providence for six years. Over the years, Dorothea distinguished herself as a woman of integrity and faith. She was highly regarded by her family, friends and neighbors and was actively involved in her church and community. Dorothea graduated from North Providence High School in 1944 and since her teenage years, she was a Christian and an active member of a church where she enjoyed singing in the church choir. While raising her family in East Providence, Dorothea organized several projects to keep the neighborhood youth actively involved in their community. In 1970, Dorothea joined others in advocating for a community center for youth. Their efforts resulted in the opening of the “East Providence Drop-In Center”.
She served as a Deaconess at Pond Street Baptist Church for over 25 years. In 1974, she was honored by the church as “Mother of the Year”. In 1976, she was again chosen “Bicentennial Mother of the Year” by the Irreproachable Beneficial Association (IBA). Dorothea was an active member of the East Providence Parent Teacher Association (PTA) for over 25 years. During that time, she served a one year stint as the President of the PTA for Emma G. Whiteknact Elementary School and also the East Providence High School. In 1977, she was awarded a life membership in the Rhode Island Congress of PTA’s. Along with her four daughters and one of her sons, Dorothea formed a gospel singing group and they became known as the Laughlin Family Singers. They sang a Capella at churches throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New Jersey. She also authored three books, “Your Honor We Have the Evidence, God is Real”, “Jesus, the Perfect Example of Love”, and “My Story Coloring Book”. All of her books are listed in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. She also wrote one song entitled, “There is Victory in Jesus” which was recorded by Rainbow Records of Hollywood, CA. In 1997, she became a member of the Hope Congregational Church, UCC on Wampanoag Trail and at the age of 93, she still continued to sing in the church choir.
Dorothea and Richard were the proud parents of ten children, Cora E. Rose of East Providence, Marsha C. Snead of Warwick, Richard D. Laughlin, III of Providence, Gary C. Laughlin of Chesapeake, Virginia, Lenora M. Johnson of Pittsburgh, Cheryl A. Burrell of Rumford, Steven D. Laughlin of East Providence, Brian E. Laughlin of Riverside, Paul R. Laughlin of North Providence, and Neal E. Laughlin of East Providence, 26 grandchildren, 54 great grandchildren, 4 great great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. She was the sister of the late George Washington, Earl Washington, Irving Washington, Lawrence Washington, Carol Washington, Donald Washington and Barbara Locket.
Due to the Covid 19 restrictions, her funeral service will be private. A celebration of her life will be held at a time to be announced. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory would be appreciated and can be made to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105-9959.