Dorothy Mae Johnson (Papadakos) (White) Stevens obituary

Dorothy Johnson Stevens

Dorothy Johnson Stevens

Ormond Beach, FL – Dorothy Mae Stevens of Daytona Beach, FL passed away on April 7, 2022, in view of her beloved Atlantic Ocean at the age of 85. Born in 1936, Dorothy Mae was the youngest of two daughters of Borghild and Gustaf Johnson of Superior, Wisconsin. When she was 5, the family headed west on the Lewis and Clark Trail to Oregon in a two-door Ford pickup truck. She would say this was their modern version of a covered wagon. In Garden Home, Oregon Gust took over a Texaco Gas Station where Dorothy Mae grew up pumping gas while her mother ran the office and taught second grade.

Her modeling and beauty career began in 8th grade when she became a Junior model for Jantzen swimsuits. In her junior year at Beaverton High School, she was elected Spring Reign Queen and shortly after graduation she was chosen Miss Beaverton 1955 and went on to win the 1955 Miss Oregon Pageant. She was chaperoned by her mother at the 1956 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, notable as the first year the pageant was broadcast live on national television; the first year Bert Parks was emcee; and the first year Parks sang his iconic song, “There She is, Miss America”. In the Miss America Talent Competition, Dorothy Mae performed Lady Macbeth’s “Sleepwalking Scene” from William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Hers was the only Talent performance to be televised and would help her win First Runner-Up to Miss America, the best finish for an Oregon contestant until Katie Harman won Miss America in 2002.

Dorothy Mae would say that her proudest achievement was being named “Miss Leatherneck” by the US Marine Corps in 1956 after she traveled promoting the Marines. To this day she remains the only Miss Leatherneck in the Corps’ 246 year history.

The Miss America Scholarship Program enabled Dorothy Mae to study at the America Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC which she left after one year to pursue movie offers in Hollywood. Her film credits include “The Joker is Wild” (1957), “Bernardine” (1957, Pat Boone’s first Hollywood film), “Summer Love” (1958), “Life Begins at 17” (1958), “The Littlest Hobo” (1958) and “The Flying Fontaines” (1959). Her TV credits included regular appearances on the “Bob Cummings Show” and “Bat Masterson” with Gene Barry. In March 1958, Dorothy Mae and her mother accompanied Conrad Hilton to Cuba for the opening of the Havana Hilton Hotel just four months before Castro came to power.

In 1959 Dorothy Mae met her future husband Peter James Papadakos, founder of Gyrodyne Helicopter Company on Long Island, NY with whom she had three children: Dorothy Jean, Peter and Athena. In 1969, Dorothy Mae and her children relocated to Reno, Nevada where she married Dr. Paul L. White, an Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Emergency Room physician who co-founded Planned Parenthood of Northern Nevada. She and Paul welcomed her fourth child, Andrew. Her 3rd husband, George Stevens, a retired Marine of Grand Prairie, TX passed away in 2002 and Dorothy Mae returned to Florida where she was active as a nurse practitioner and senior ombudsman while still answering movie fan mail well into her 80’s.

Dorothy Mae is survived by her children Dorothy Jean Papadakos (Tracy), Peter P. Papadakos (Barbara), Athena P. Papadakos (Scott) and Andrew J. White and grandchildren Alexander (Suzanne), Mitchell, Morgan and Maxfield. A private family service was held on April 15 in Florida with committal to follow in Oregon.

Donations in Dorothy Mae’s name can be made to the American Cancer Society.

[Editor: Dorothy was one of our most famous residents. She has been very generous with her photos and stories for our website. Her son, Peter Papadakos, has sent this obituary from Florida. Read Dorothy’s story published on our website.]

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3 Responses to Dorothy Mae Johnson (Papadakos) (White) Stevens obituary

  1. Ward Nelson says:

    Hi, Folks, Do you perchance have contact info for Dorothy Papadakos? I’d like to write to her. She was here a few years ago to play an organ program at Trinity Cathddral, and I was able to give her a personal tour of Garden Home and Beaverton High. We had a wonderful time. I wad flabbergasted to find out that the famous organist’s mother was Dorothy Johnson! Ward Nelson GH ‘58

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Pingback: December 2022 UPDATE – Garden Home History Email | Garden Home History Project

  3. Pingback: Dorothy Johnson: Garden Home Recollections | Garden Home History Project

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