Tribute paid to 'profoundly independent' Dorothy Jahme


Dorothy Jahme. - Credit: Carole Jahme.

Tributes have been paid to a ‘well known’ and ‘profoundly independent’ woman from Axminster who has died at the age of 97.

Dorothy Jahme’s funeral service will take place on Friday August 12 at 2.30pm at The Minster, Axminster, all are welcome. Donations for the RNLI. 

Dorothy Jahme, died on April,14,2022. Her daughter Carole Jahme has now paid tribute to her life. 

"My mother, didn’t readily tolerate the familiarity of first names. She preferred to be addressed as, ‘Mrs Jahme’ (pronounced, ‘jay-me’). When she was socially-pressured to get chummy and go by ‘first names’, she would retain her innate aloofness by cunningly using her middle name, Rose.  

"Dorothy Jahme was a well-known character in Axminster, having lived in the area for over 40 years. My parents retired from Beaconsfield to Membury village in 1980 and, when my father’s health declined in 1998, moved to Millbrook Dale, in Axminster.

"They soon disposed of their Austin mini-metro and embraced walking up that hill and down to the shops.  


Dorothy Jahme. - Credit: Carole Jahme.

"In thought and design, Dorothy was a profoundly independent person and after my father died in 2010, she lived alone for 12 years until age 94.

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"Widowhood did not hold Dorothy back, and with her rimed hat pulled squarely down, a four-wheeled chequered shopping trolly determinedly pushed out in front and her navy-blue handbag tightly clasped, Dorothy ventured out daily to buy herself lunch.  

"She didn’t like visitors and rejected meals on wheels. Instead, what Dorothy really liked was Trinity House’s coffee shop.

"Dorothy had a deep attraction to departmental stores and stuck rigidly to her lunchtime routine. I’d like to thank the heroic staff who worked there and who patiently adapted to Dorothy’s many requirements and served my mother lunch, almost every day, for about nine years.

"The combination of daily exercise and provision of a cooked meal, kept my mother going. When Trinity House closed in November 2019 it was a turning point in Dorothy’s life. By January she was very poorly and it was time for me to organise, full-time, live-in carers.  

"The staff at Morton’s Pharmacy were also integral to her survival and I’d like to thank them, too. My partner, Dave, witnessed first-hand the staff’s commitment to service on the occasion of collecting Dorothy’s antibiotics. Initially, Dave confused staff by forgetting my mother’s name. But, once the error was corrected and Morton’s knew the antibiotics were for none other than, “Mrs Jahme” and, they realised that Axminster Medical Practice had failed to dispatch the prescription, Morton’s staff leaped into rapid-response mode. The alarmed staff stared at Dave, exclaimed, “Mrs Jahme!” and then quickly pressed the ‘red button’, sending a message to the GP surgery to get those meds issued, pronto.

"While the pharmacists hurriedly prepared the drugs, Dave marvelled at the apparent urgency shown when staff had discovered the customer was “Mrs Jahme”.

"Having never seen pharmacists take so much care, or provide such good service, Dave insists this is confirmation that Dorothy held legendary status in Axminster. Perhaps he’s right. 

"Dorothy Rose MacDonald was half Scottish and born in 1925, in Shepherds Bush. She was an adolescent when WWII began and would provide me with an uncanny impersonation of the ‘doodlebugs’ that she witnessed flattening West London.

"She acquired her love of the British countryside when she was put on a train full with children and evacuated away from the Blitz.  

"Before she experienced the inevitable restraints that aging imposes, Dorothy indulged in horseracing at Ascot and the Derby, jewels, dresses, dinner-dancing, theatre (particularly comedies), musicals, and the movies.

"However, simultaneously, she never appreciated surprises, crowds, strangers or being touched.

"My mother was a predictably unpredictable person and a confounding combination of rebellious humanism and conservative, misanthropic intolerance. She stood a mere 5ft, but when she wanted, she could become colossal in personality. 

"Luckily for Dorothy, in her final years her clinical needs were reviewed by the consultant geriatrician, Dr Hemsley. Dorothy died on 14.04.2022., and when I informed him of her passing Dr Hemsley said, “It has been a pleasure to have played a small part in the care of Dorothy during her last few years and I’ll never forget her, particularly her direct manner and strong character. What a force she was!”  Indeed.  

"In the months before she passed, Dorothy was experiencing a physical renaissance, her memory was improving and she was walking without her Zimmer frame. She had (mostly) wonderful carers, including the part-time carer, Klara, who brought her baby daughter to work, and over the months Dorothy thoroughly enjoyed observing the infant’s development.  

"On my mother’s final birthday, March 2022, I took a selfie video of us sat together on the sofa. After we examined our reflections and my mother commented that she had no idea where her front tooth had gone, she proudly noted that reaching age 97 evidenced that she had done “rather well,” and so she had.  

"A month later a negligent live-in carer, was knowingly infected with Covid-19 when she came to stay with my mother for three weeks. During that time the carer declined to get Dorothy medical help or inform me that Dorothy was ill. PCR tests confirm Dorothy died from the effects of Covid-19.  

"Despite the trauma of her passing, I am grateful that Dorothy remained domiciled in her own bungalow and her life did not end in a nursing home, as my father’s had. Doing it her way, retaining independence to the last and dying in her own home, was exactly how Mrs Jahme had wanted to shuffle off her mortal coil."