Dorothy Louise Gabler

F, #185, b. 7 November 1925, d. 27 November 2021
Father*Theophil Gabler1
Mother*Hilda Hoelscher1
Dorothy Stoerker
     Dorothy Louise Gabler was born on 7 November 1925 Talmadge, Nebraska, USA.1 She was the daughter of Theophil Gabler and Hilda Hoelscher.1 She was principal Elmhurst College, Illinois, USA, when an unknown person was a student. School: an unknown place .1
     Lewis Waldo Stoerker married Dorothy Louise Gabler, daughter of Theophil Gabler and Hilda Hoelscher, on 8 September 1945.2,1
     They resided Columbia, Missouri, USA, in 1959.1
     The following item appeared in the Columbia Daily Tribune, 101 North 4th Street, Columbia, Missouri, USA, on 17 August 2011
Downtown Optimist Club celebrates 75 years of helping kids
Club members help city youths succeed.

The Downtown Optimist Club celebrated its 75th birthday last night with a fish fry, but the focus of the celebration wasn’t on the club itself but what it has done for Columbia’s young people.

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Since the club, a branch of the International Optimists, started in 1936, it has invested more than $1 million in local youths, President Sid Sullivan said before giving a toast last night.

The Downtown Optimist Club sponsors a number of events for kids, including the annual Soap Box Derby, a bicycle safety event and an essay contest. It also donates money to youth organizations such as the Dream Factory, Granny’s House and Rainbow House.

“We focus on children because we feel like if we can help them early, they won’t have problems later,” board member Gary Anderson said. “They will have a sense of who they are and what they’re doing if we support them.”

The club raises money primarily through two fundraisers — a Christmas tree lot that sells about 2,500 trees each year and the sale of Koeze brand nuts.

The Optimists also host social events for members, but those are paid for by members, former President Jess Weaver said as he and other past presidents fried fish outside the clubhouse last night.

Although many members, such as Red Leighton, who joined in 1962, say they’ve met a number of great friends through the club, they all agree the main focus is helping kids.

Leighton said he joined the club because of its creed, which encourages members to always be strong, optimistic, cheerful and to bring those feelings to everyone they meet. But the club changed his life by helping kids, which he said is important to him as he still remembers hard times he had growing up.

“I know how much it meant to me when people gave back to me,” he said. “Columbia always did well to me, so I thought it was time to give something back. And I’m glad to do it.”

In addition to sponsoring annual events and allocating money to charity groups, the Optimists also have helped with some large-scale projects such as the creation of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.

Dottie Stoerker, a member of the club for about 20 years, said her husband, Lou, wanted to create a safe place for kids to play away from the streets after their 9-year-old daughter was killed in the street. Around the same time, in the early 1960s, Lou joined the Optimist Club, which helped the couple get the park started.

“With all this help, lo and behold, Rock Bridge Park started because the club worked so well. He couldn’t have done it by himself,” Dottie said.

After Lou’s death, Dottie decided to become a member herself. She said she has enjoyed every minute of it.

“Everyone is just so optimistic and everything about it so positive, and their philosophy is to help children,” she said.

This page has been revised to reflect the following correction:

SECOND THOUGHTS: Thursday, August 18, 2011

A story yesterday about the Downtown Optimist Club’s 75th birthday said Red Leighton joined the club in 1976. Leighton later clarified he actually joined in 1962.3

     She resided at Columbia, Missouri, USA, in August 2012.4
     Dorothy died on 27 November 2021 Columbia, Missouri, USA, at age 96.5
     Her obituary was published on Columbia Missourian, Columbia, Missouri, USA, on 30 November 2021
Death notices for Nov. 30, 2021
Dorothy Stoerker-Peters, 96, of Columbia died Nov. 27, 2021. Arrangements are under the care of Parker-Millard Funeral Service & Crematory.5

     Her obituary was published on Columbia Tribune, Columbia, Missouri, USA, on 6 December 2021
Dorothy "Dottie" Louise Stoerker-Peters
Dorothy (Dottie) Louise Stoerker-Peters (nee') Gabler entered into eternal rest on November 27, 2021. She was 96.

Dorothy was born on November 7, 1925, Talmage Nebraska, the daughter of Reverend Theophil Gabler and Hilda (nee' Hoelscher). She attended Elmhurst College in Illinois where she met and later married Lewis Stoerker on September 8, 1945.

Dorothy and Lewis, along with their three children moved to Columbia, MO, in 1959. They were active in many groups such as the Optimists’ Club, TPA, and Mizzou Alumni. Following the tragic death of their daughter, Carol, in 1961, Lew began work on establishing a park in her memory. That dream became a reality and is currently known as Rock Bridge Memorial State Pak. After Lew's passing, Dottie carried her husband’s torch and legacy in the "Friends of Rock Bridge" group and poured her passion into pursuing further developments for the park. Through one of her groups, she met her second husband, Elroy (Pete) Peters.

She avidly loved theatre, dance, music, art, and at one time, was an accomplished synchronized swimmer. She was a member and deacon of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia and sang in the choir

Mostly, she loved her family, neighbors, and friends and was always there for them with a comforting word and steady hand.

Preceding her in death are her parents; her sister, Marion Hanscom; husband, Lewis Stoerker; husband Elroy Peters; daughter, Carol; and son, Burton.

Surviving are her youngest son, David, of Columbia and his wife Cathy Olten; daughter-in-law, Cynthia Stoerker of Tennessee; five grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; nieces; nephews; and many close friends. Dorothy will always be remembered for her kind heart and indomitable spirit.

On Friday, December 10, 2021, a visitation will be held 11:00 a.m. 1:00 p.m. at Parker-Millard Funeral Services, with graveside services to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery with the Reverend Marvin Lindsay presiding. The family respectfully request that guests wear masks at the visitation.

In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to Friends of Rock Bridge, P.O. Box 7642, Columbia MO 65205.

Arrangements are under the direction of Parker-Millard Funeral Service & Crematory, 12 East Ash Street, Columbia, MO 65203 (573) 449-4153. Condolences may be left online for the family at
Last Edited=15 June 2022

Children of Dorothy Louise Gabler and Lewis Waldo Stoerker


  1. [S1630] Dorothy Stoerker-Peters (#185) Dorothy "Dottie" Louise Stoerker-Peters, Columbia Tribune, Columbia, Missouri, December 6, 2021, on December 6, 2021 (Document Source Number: 00185-2021-12-06-01) . Hereinafter cited as Columbia Tribune.
  2. [S132] Wilbert Stewart Greb unknown date.
  3. [S1150] Downtown Optimist Club celebrates 75 years of helping kids, Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia, Missouri (Aug 17, 2011), (Document Source Number: 00185-2011-08-17-01).
  4. [S516] Amy Lauren Stoerker Stoerker-Atwood exchange vows, The Times Leader, Princeton, Kentucky, October 31,2012,, viewed at on November 3, 2012 . Hereinafter cited as The Times Leader.
  5. [S1628] Dorothy Stoerker-Peters (#185) Death Notices for November 30, 2021, Columbia Missourian, Columbia, Missouri, November 30, 2021, on November 30, 2021 (Document Source Number: 00185-2021-11-30-01) . Hereinafter cited as Columbia Missourian.