Doris Jean “Gramma DoDo” Sandin, Stout, Hamilton, DeLong passed away peacefully on March 17, 2024, at her home in Fortuna, at the age of 93, with daughter Bonnie and granddaughter Sara by her side.

Doris was born on August 12, 1930, in Santa Paula, joining sister Mary Lucille as the two daughters of George and Mary Sandin. At an early age, her family moved north to Sebastopol. In 1940, the family moved to Fortuna where her father had built a house on Drake Hill Road. She attended the Rohnerville Elementary School graduating in 1944, then graduated from Fortuna Union High School in 1948. During this time she was nicknamed “DoDo” by her friends and classmates as a substitute for “Doris”. She enjoyed her pets, whether bottle-feeding the lamb or riding “Ferdinand” the family’s very gentle bull. As a teen, she worked during summers at the Weymouth Inn, located then across the summer bridge from the base of Drake Hill Road where it meets the Eel River.

Upon graduation, Doris had the opportunity to move to Los Angeles, when she was invited to live with and work for her Uncle Matthew McCurdy, a well-known and respected dentist in the Los Angeles area. As fate would have it, one of his dental patients was a handsome young man named Clifford. As she often said, her mother had told her to look for a man that was tall (as she was not, to give her kids a chance), had good teeth, and didn’t smoke or drink. Well, he scored so well on the first two and was so handsome she thought she could overlook the last. Here in Los Angeles, she continued her vocal lessons at the Hollywood School of Music, singing with the Hollywood Methodist Church Choir as a soloist.

Doris and Cliff Stout married Sept. 4, 1949, and lived in Culver City. Nine months later they delivered to this world their first bundle of joy, Bonnie Lynne, in June 1950. Two years later came Sandra Lee in June 1952, followed by Jan Franklin in 1955. In August of 1955, Doris and Cliff loaded up a car, trailer and 3 little ones and drove the arduous journey to Fortuna, to start anew in Doris’s hometown. Cliff and George built a studio apartment above George’s garage and they set up housekeeping. In this 750 s.f. “cottage” the five slept on sleeper sofas and a Murphy-style wall bed, while having the occasional square dance party with their Methodist Adult Fellowship friends.

Doris’s parents gifted them an acre of property next to theirs and Cliff set about saving money to build a house, while first working on the mill pond at the local veneer plant where George maintained the steam plant, and then getting a job at the Fernbridge Creamery as a route driver. Five years after arriving in Fortuna, Doris and Cliff moved into their new red custom home with the gambrel styled roof at 2508 Drake Hill Road, in 1960.

Those years were punctuated with:

  • all the kids walking ¾ mile (uphill both ways, thru the snow) to Toddy Thomas School

  • Doris, Cliff and three kiddos on stage while singing folk songs for the seemingly random Methodist Church or Grange Hall function.

  • The Dec. 1964 flood, with boats being launched into the floodwaters from the bottom of Drake Hill Road.

  • Celebrating George and Mary’s 40th anniversary.

  • Grieving the loss of her mother Mary.

  • Doris becoming the choir director for the Methodist Church.

  • Yearly FUMC campouts at Pamplin Grove.

  • The yearly family vacations to LA to visit Cliff’s mother Viva and his siblings, and the visit to see Uncle Matt and Aunt Mill McCurdy.

  • Doris developing her wedding cake decorating business, which then grew into a full catering business.

Doris and Cliff divorced in 1971, so to supplement the catering business she found a job working for Bartow’s Jewelers. This was followed by a job with Al and Jan Gray at their carpet store.

Doris also joined a “Parents without Partners” group, which is where she met the retired Lt. Colonel Wallace (Wally) Hamilton, her soon-to-be next husband. They married in Feb 1973 and enjoyed 20 years together, when Wally showed her the world with trips to China, Europe, Great Britain, and multiple trips to Hawaii. Wally built a successful real estate business, and they purchased their home on Cypress Loop with expansive views of Fortuna and the Eel River Valley, where Doris continued to live until her passing.

After Wally’s sudden passing in 1993, Doris was alone again, until her dear friends the Drakes conspired to connect her with their widower neighbor, Phil DeLong. Doris and Phil hit it off and married in 1997, enjoying 16 years together with Doris falling in love with Phil’s adult children, Martha, Ruth and Phillip.

Doris’s legacy of love, laughter, kindness, generosity and creativity will be forever remembered by her family and friends, as well as the many thrift stores in Fortuna that she could not pass by without stopping to see “what’s new.” And she dearly loved her jokes, both telling and hearing them, preferably G-rated.

Doris was truly a dynamo known for her drive, gumption, creativity, and joy, earning her the nickname “the Energizer Bunny.” Her secret? Black tea, every day, all day, for most of her life. For her 91st birthday, Doris chose to jump out of a perfectly functioning airplane, earning the nickname “Skydancer” and taking 6 family and friends along with her. For her 92nd she zip-lined Fremont Street in Las Vegas (later saying “boring”). For her 93rd birthday, she was blessed with a motorcycle ride by friend Matt Coleman… and you couldn’t have wiped the smile off her face.

Doris had a fulfilling career as a dental assistant, wife, mother, Ultimate Cake Baker and Decorator, Caterer, and Choir Director. She was a dedicated member of the Fortuna United Methodist Church for over 75 years where she sang in the choir, then directed the choir for 35 years after her mother’s passing. Doris was a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and was very proud of her Scottish heritage, participating in many local Scottish functions.

In her free time, Doris enjoyed entertaining and hosting gatherings, participating in DAR activities, and playing the piano for Senior Care facilities. Doris was well known for hosting her FUHS classmates’ yearly gatherings, even as the class dwindled in size.

She is survived by her daughter Bonnie Ankiewicz, grandchildren Amber Ankiewicz & husband Phillip Hastings, Adam and wife Jessica Ankiewicz, Lori Wellborn; daughter Sandra Lee, grandchildren Traci Carillo, Taryn & husband Damon Smith, Zane and wife Jessica VanZelf; son Jan & wife Cindy Stout, grandchildren Sara, Laurel & husband Kurt Stitser, Andrew & wife Jamie Stout; niece Rosalyn Ratto; as well as stepchildren Wallace Hamilton Jr., Martha DeLong and daughters Eleanore and Ruth, and Philip & wife Cheryl DeLong and children Philip, Tanya and Anna. Doris has 17 great-grandchildren: Axle and Adalynn Ankiewicz; Stephanie & Joshua Carrillo; Daniel & Hailey Hastings; Lemac Lewis-Robinson, Gisele & Leola Smith; Addyson and Emilia Stout; Bodhi and Isla Stitser; Madison Kreger, Alexis, Vaida & Declan VanZelf; and one great-great-grandson, Oliver Kreger.

Doris was preceded in death by her parents George and Mary E. Sandin, sister Mary Lucille Jones (and husband Clifton Jones), nephew Kent Jones, husbands Wallace L. Hamilton and Philip J. DeLong, stepson Donald Hamilton, stepdaughter Ruth Delong Black, and son-in-law John Campbell. She is now joining many very close friends: Evelyn McCombs Deike, Earline Hurd Ferris, Molly Cunningham, Virginia Anderson, Joy Shepard, Peggy Lau, Roy Curless, and so many more friends and classmates that she loved so dearly.

Doris will be missed by her family, but her long life will live on in the memories we have and share, comforted by the knowledge that she is no longer in pain and enjoying herself in Heaven. The family would like to thank Dr. Greg Barkdull for his excellent care, and the Providence Radiation Oncology team and Hospice of Humboldt, especially Bridget, Itzel, Steve and Terry for their compassion and support during her last few months.

We all want to give a special thanks to dear friends Karen Parlato, Carol Foley, Carol Kinser, Launie McCombs and Dr. George & Sylvia Jutila for their constant support, visitation and care for Doris, especially during her difficult last days. And the ability of daughter Bonnie to stay with Doris as her primary caregiver during the last nine months has been a true blessing.

A Celebration of Doris’s life will be held at the Fortuna United Methodist Church, 922 N Street, Fortuna, on May 4, 2024 @ 1 p.m. Inurnment will follow on a later date at Ocean View Cemetery in Eureka.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Doris DeLong’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.