Dorothy Kessen of Springs sang in her church choir, played clarinet in the Sag Harbor Community Band and worked for many years at Brent’s General Store and Miller’s Fuel. She may have been best known, though, as an exceptional cake baker. It was a talent she first discovered in the 1970s, her family recalled, after taking a Wilton’s cake-decorating class at the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove.
Ms. Kessen died at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital on Jan. 23 of a sudden Covid-19 pneumonia infection. She was 85.
Born at home in Springs on Dec. 22, 1936, to Samuel Merritt King and the former Evelyn Edwards, Dorothy L. King grew up in Bridgehampton and graduated with honors in 1954 from Pierson High School in Sag Harbor. She worked at Brent’s in the ’60s, followed by more than 60 years at Miller’s and its later iterations.
A marriage to William Kessen in 1954 ended in divorce. He died in 1996.
Ms. Kessen was a deacon at the Springs Presbyterian Church and a longtime member of the Lost Tribe of Accabonac. In addition to playing the clarinet for the Sag Harbor band, she was the band’s historian. “And she made cakes for them all!” her family wrote.
She enjoyed theater, attending shows on and Off Broadway and at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, and was an Inner Circle member of the Westbury Music Fair. Well organized and efficient, she also planned bus trips for friends and family to many interesting and historic destinations in the United States. In her retirement, relatives said, she loved a good card game.
The family wrote that she will be remembered for her “goodness, love, kindness, strength, and understanding.”
She is survived by three daughters, Lynda Raynor of Orange City, Fla., Dorothy L. Kessen-Bennett of Sag Harbor, and Beth Rice of Lebanon, Conn. Ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren also survive. A sister, Clovis Campbell of Bellport, died before her; another sister, Lenis Hearn, lives in Sandusky, Mich. She also leaves seven nieces and nephews.
The poem “The Dash Between,” by Linda Ellis, was meaningful to Ms. Kessen’s family at the time of her death, they wrote. Referring to the dash seen on gravestones between the years of birth and death, the poem reads, in part, “So when your eulogy is read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?”
Ms. Kessen was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor on Jan. 26. Memorial donations have been suggested to the Sag Harbor Community Band, P.O. Box 1925, Bridgehampton 11932.