On Jan. 19, 2017, Dorinda Elizabeth Fonda passed away at home in Oroville. She lived a truly amazing life. She inspired many people, men and women, with the life she led. She was a force of nature. She was a strong, courageous woman who dedicated her life to leading our many-colored rainbow race out of the darkness and into the light. When Dorinda took up a cause, she was fighting for the children of the “world.” She campaigned for truth and peace among all people of all nations.
Born April 2, 1933, to her mother, Dorinda McGrath, and her father, Milton Delano Fonda, Dorinda’s first home was in the Irish community of Green Island, Troy, New York. Born the third of seven children, she moved with her family to Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1939, where she attended school from the first grade on. She graduated from Saratoga High School in 1950.
Dorinda loved to roam the woods and explore the gardens of the Victorian mansions around Saratoga Springs. She loved the natural world. She celebrated every sunrise and the beauty of sunset at day’s end. Dorinda was known for her caring heart. She was the confidant to many throughout her life. She possessed an unwavering confidence and a moral compass that seldom strayed from what was right. If you were outcast, Dorinda was your friend. She listened. She embraced you. She loved you. She was that kind of a spirit.
Dorinda married Thomas Patrick Carroll on Oct. 8, 1950. She was 17. Rather than a “honeymoon,” she preferred to spend the money on pots, cookware and baking pans of all sizes. She could not wait to be in her own kitchen and have the freedom to bake cookies and apple pies and prepare wonderful meals for her family. Dorinda was a fantastic cook.
Her first son, Duane, was born in August 1953, followed by Brice in March 1954, Vance in March of 1955 and Garth in October of 1964. She loved to pile her kids and her younger brothers into the family station wagon and go off to Lake George or Lake Lucerne. She took many road trips and shared adventures with family.
Dorinda and Thomas Carroll divorced in 1969. She went to live in a predominantly black neighborhood of Schenectady, New York, where she owned an apartment building. She moved in to one of her own upstairs units and began living in the community. With her windows open and classical music echoing through the neighborhood it was not long before Dorinda was drawing groups of youth up off the street to rap with the “really cool” lady on the third floor. She would talk about music, especially jazz, and her heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Harriette Tubman. These were the role models she used to inspire the youth around her.
In 1972 Dorinda moved from Schenectady to Albany, New York, and started cooking full-time at a newly opened vegetarian restaurant, The Receptive Earth, just a few blocks from the Capitol. Within weeks the restaurant was a huge success. Her spicing was so good they could not believe her dishes were meatless. The lunch line would often extend down the block, with people willing to stand in line if Dorinda was in the kitchen.
Dorinda was drawn west by a Rainbow Gathering poster she saw in Albany in 1973. She made plans to head for Oregon at her next opportunity. It came some months later when her restaurant caught fire in the “Yin-Yang” room. Dorinda’s response was, “I am going to Oregon.” She bought tickets from Montreal to Vancouver, B.C., and headed out on the Canadian Railway, with just a backpack. She had courage and she possessed unwavering confidence in her ability to prevail.
Eugene, Oregon, 1975 — Joseph and Dorinda
Dorinda and Joseph joined forces at the “Conference for the Alternative Future of Eugene,” in June of 1975, leaving the conference with big plans to create a “School of Creative Living” at Joseph’s house on West Broadway in Eugene. From that day forward Dorinda and Joseph were never apart. That fall in 1975 they drove from Eugene to Orient, Washington, on the Columbia River above Kettle Falls to participate in a new happening, the Barter Faire. They returned home and immediately began making plans to leave Eugene in search of land, community and a new place to call home in the rural Northwest. They built their “gypsy wagon” on an old 1950 GMC truck named “Blue Goose” and loaded the 1949 Chevy flatbed truck named “Yellowphant” with homestead supplies.
On April 1, 1976, the wagon train left Eugene, heading north looking for their future home. After many adventures on the road, including the 1976 Rainbow Gathering, a haying season at Hargrave Charolais Ranch in Thompson River, Montana, and a winter in Colville, Washington, Joseph and Dorinda found what they had been searching for, “The Sunny Okanogan.”
Dorinda and Joseph raised two boys, Elijah and his brother Joshua. Family was everything to Dorinda. She loved being a parent. She was very protective of the minds of her kids. In fact, PBS was the only TV programming her boys were allowed to watch. She was a good teacher and a good mother.
Dorinda and Joseph ultimately settled in Oroville in 1980. The small 1915 house they purchased on Central Avenue suited them well. They remodeled, improved and added on. They lived together in that house for 37 years.
Dorinda made a difference to those around her. Some of her life achievements include:
- Dorinda planted the first community garden on city property in Eugene, Oregon, in the spring of 1974. She planted about 2 acres in vegetables.
- Dorinda founded the West End General Store Co-op along with Steve Jaffe in Eugene. She was the first full-time manager at West End.
- Dorinda was a founding member and first general manager of the Turning Point Co-op in 1977, in Tonasket, Washington. The Turning Point Co-op became the Tonasket Food Co-op we know today.
- Dorinda played an important role in the early Barter Faires, always insisting the children’s play area be placed in the center.
- Dorinda was the first person to call for small charge at the entrance gate for purchase of a permanent Barter Faire Site
- Dorinda raised the first $1,000 for the purchase of that site in 1984.
- Dorinda was a founding member of the North Valley Peacemakers and organized the first Mother’s Day Walk for Peace in 1982. The Mother’s Day Walk may be the longest running annual Peace Walk in the United States.
- She was an active participant in the “Caravan for Big Mountain” in 1985, where she spent a year in service to the Navaho and Hopi people around Big Mountain. Many native women had affection for Dorinda.
- She spent two summers in Russia working with children being cared for in Russian state institutions called children’s homes, in 1998 and 1999.
- Dorinda’s and Joseph’s travel led to Spain, France and the Netherlands in 2004. Staying with friends and family at each stop, it was one of the highlights of a life well lived.
Dorinda was preceded in death by her parents Milton and Dorinda, her siblings, Kent, Natalie, Roland, Peter and Joel, and her first husband, Thomas Patrick Carroll. She is survived by one brother, Mark Henry Fonda, who resides in upstate New York.
Dorinda is survived by her four sons by her first husband, Thomas Carroll, and their families. They are Duane (Kathy) Carroll of Bainbridge Island, Washington, Brice (Judy) Carroll of Oroville, and Vance (Melissa) Carroll of Eagle, Colorado. Surviving granddaughters are Vanissa (Seth) Nienhieser, of Gunnison, Colorado, and Brianna (Simon) Berger of Boulder Colorado. She is also survived by her son Garth Carroll of Seattle, and granddaughter Celeste (Jonathon) Nearing of Shoreline, Washington, and grandson Geoff Carroll of Seattle. Dorinda has five great-grandchildren, Gracelyn and Raeley Nienhieser, and Avery Rose Berger, Dakota Edwards and “little JJ” Jonathon Nearing.
Dorinda is also survived by her husband of 41 years, Joseph George Enzensperger of Oroville, and their two sons, Elijah Grey Enzensperger and Joshua Moon Enzensperger, both of Arlington, Vermont, along with five grandchildren born to Joshua. They are Gabriel, Noah, Brooks, Skyler and Juliet Alana Storm.
A celebration of life service will be held for Dorinda Elizabeth Fonda on April 2 at 1 p.m. at the Community Cultural Center of Tonasket, 411 Western Ave., Tonasket. All are welcome
If you would like to help make the food for the celebration, have photos of Dorinda you would like to share, or have music, a poem or a story to share during her celebration service, please contact Joseph at (509) 476-4072 or email jgenz4 @gmail.com.