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A shining light extinguished way too soon

The city of West Fargo lost one of their own with the passing Saturday evening of Business Development Director Dorinda Anderson.

Anderson received a kidney transplant in late August. The surgery went well, but then organ rejection set in and that was eventually reversed but other complications presented themselves, leading up to her passing.

Kidney disease had long been a factor in Dorinda's daily life, going all the way back to her high school days in Hazelton, N.D., when she first became ill and was told that she would eventually require a transplant. Following graduation, she moved to Bismarck, and it was while living there that her condition worsened requiring two years of dialysis, before undergoing her transplant procedure Valentine's Day, 1979, at Rochester, with her oldest sister Lorraine (Curt) Fischer of Hazelton the donor.

Four years ago she learned she would require another transplant and the wheels were set in motion to locate a suitable donor. Since then she had not only been holding down her regular job but also undergoing dialysis treatments three afternoons a week.

In an interview at that time, Dorinda said even though she was facing her second transplant she still considered herself lucky that the first surgery had carried her 29 years and that she was even able to have a second one.

She emphasized that the one thing she didn't take lightly was the fact the kidney "was a gift, and I was determined to take care of that gift. I think a positive attitude means everything, so I tried to stay positive and not worry about the future because that peace of mind was half of staying well."

Those who knew Dorinda best would agree she was one-of-a-kind, with her upbeat attitude and infectious smile, brave beyond measure, faced with a second transplant and all that went with it.

She was always the consummate highly regarded professional, whether it was in the workplace, with family or friends, or out in the community where she was a pillar for a number of groups and organizations as evidenced by her attendance at each and every event she could muster the strength to attend.

Most recently, she took charge for the city in organizing the highly successful Thursday night cruise nights and even up to the day she left for Rochester for her transplant was working hard to ensure the success of West Fest, which ironically she didn't get to be a part of.

In her role as business development director for the city since June of 2003, she will go down in the history books for playing a huge role in the retention, expansion and addition of both small and big business in the city of West Fargo, among her coups, the location of Integrity Windows and more recently the first North Dakota located Costco, and the expansion of the Caterpillar plant, with Dorinda in attendance for the latter's formal announcement ceremony held only a few days before her transplant, that saw officials praise her for her involvement in the expansion.

West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern expressed his sadness saying all city staffers are presently going through the grieving process. "I was on the committee that hired Dorinda eight years ago. She was obviously an excellent candidate. Through the years we also became good friends. She really did a lot for the city and will certainly be missed. She was a member of the Chamber and Exchange Club, and so much more. There were so many other things she did in the community that many people didn't realize. She was more than just the city's development director, you could tell she really cared about the city."

As the mayor noted, the Chamber was indeed near and dear to Dorinda, serving on that board for several year's right up to her passing, being recognized on a number of occasions with various accolades.

Dorinda was also extremely approachable - her door and phone lines were always open. As the concerned listener, she was always welcoming in discussing whatever the topic, even it shifted from professional to personal needs at times.

No matter, what the conversation, it more likely than not would turn to her family. She would literally beam as she spoke of her husband, Larry, her sons, and of course her two little granddaughters, who she loved spending time with.

While waiting for her second transplant she credited her family with being her "much needed lifeline" in seeing her through.

There's no doubt the feeling was mutual.

Dorinda was indeed a testament to her own demeanor that was proud but humble always putting the best interest of others first. When you would see her and ask how she was doing, her response was always 'fine.'

City Finance Director Sharon Schacher who has also worked side-by-side with Dorinda on a daily basis praised her strength in the face of adversity, as well as her constant compassion for others. "When I think of Dorinda, I think of her contagious smile and the twinkle in her eye. I don't believe any of us realized just how ill she really was because she didn't ever complain. She had great perception of others, when they were having a bad day or were not feeling well, she would always ask how others were doing.  A few of us went to see her a few days before her death and she looked ever so peaceful.  After being so tired for the last year, finally she can rest."

Thoughtful, caring, go-getter, fighter - are just a few of the words that sum up the character of Dorinda, whose last battle waged Saturday evening ended peacefully.

Her absence creates a huge void in the hearts of her family, her colleagues and friends at city hall, business acquaintances and everyone else she had the good fortune of coming into contact with.

It is the hope that the wonderful memories of Dorinda's life, and the love and laugher it inspired and evoked with help fill all that emptiness by living on in the hearts of all those who had the privilege of knowing her.

If there is one positive message that could be left in all the sadness of Dorinda's passing it would be the one that she touted in her interview four years ago.

In her own words, the message is loud and clear, impressing the importance of organ donation: "I want to make sure that people think about being an organ donor. We never know what tomorrow will bring and we should all be prepared to help. So many people are waiting for kidney transplants. Please find it in your heart to donate organs. It is so important for people to keep in mind and realize that they are truly giving the gift of life."