Cover photo for Dolores R. "Dee" Centers's Obituary
Dolores R. "Dee" Centers Profile Photo

Dolores R. "Dee" Centers

January 31, 1930 — April 11, 2023

Dolores R. "Dee" Centers

On April 11, 2023, Dolores R. “Dee” Centers, much beloved wife of the late Ray E. Centers, went home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, surrounded by a loving family. A Graveside Service will be held on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at 11:00am at Bellevue Memorial Gardens.

Born January 31, 1930, in her beloved hills of East Tennessee, she was the second child born to Robert “Bob” and Beulah Galbraith, one of seven children raised in a loving Christian home. She graduated from Oak Ridge High School Valedictorian of her class.

She met the love of her life, Ray Centers, at a Sunday School party given by his older sister, Carrie. He would later brag that he “stole her away from a guy named Harry”, and on March 6, 1949, they were married and theirs became a love story worthy of an intriguing novel or movie. After 71 years of marriage, it is difficult still to talk about one without mentioning the other.

Married at 19, she quickly became a devoted military wife following Ray in his career with the United States Army. They moved to various military bases throughout the United States and even to Japan, where she had her first baby, Debbie, with no family present to support her. Bobby was born a few years later in South Carolina, with Lori following a few years after that in Missouri. Many times during Ray’s deployments she had no knowledge of where he was for long periods of time. At that time, verbal communication with a deployed soldier was unheard of, so they wrote letters of love to each other with family updates. While the family was separated during his deployments, she served as the rock and foundation of the family and made sure family life continued as normal as possible. During Ray’s last deployment before retirement, she oversaw the construction of the first house they built together in which they would raise 3 teenagers in Augusta. When Ray returned home, she had already moved and settled the whole family into the new house. After retiring with 25 years in the military, they settled permanently in Augusta and Ray began a second career as a financial planner, and together they adapted to a new way of life in the professional world.

The family joined Fleming Baptist Church after moving to Augusta and quickly became active in service in several areas of church life. Dee’s love of young children took her into serving for many years in the church nursery, childrens’ choirs, Sunday School, floral committee, and various other areas. Every Sunday she made sure the entire family attended not only Sunday morning and evening services, but Wednesday night services and choir practices as well. It was never a question whether the family would attend church. Nothing was allowed to get in the way of the spiritual education she desired for her children. Together she and Ray hosted Sunday School gatherings, Bible School commencement parties, choir get-togethers, youth events, etc at their home and backyard pool. They became close lifelong friends with many couples there. Dee was a friend to many others and made close attachments with those of all ages who sometimes just needed a good listening ear, never judging. Many of those relationships became friendships that lasted a lifetime because she showed and gave love to those who needed it most. She opened her home to those who needed a quiet place of retreat, a safe haven or a place where they could feel part of a real family.

As her 3 children married the family grew with the addition of 2 sons-in-law, Aubrey and Brian and one daughter-in-law, Margaret. She welcomed them all, and as they started families of their own, one of the most joyous periods of her life began. She became a grandmother at the early age of 47 and she was the best of grandmothers in every way. The love and joy she got from time spent with her 3 beloved granddaughters Kelly, Amanda and Maggie lit up her face. She loved every part of their lives, attending school functions, piano/dance recitals, sports events, church programs, weddings, and births whenever able. They knew she was invested and always watching, very much an important participant in every facet of their lives. And when her granddaughters married, she welcomed with open arms 2 additional family members, grandsons-in-law Billy and Joe, making the family count now 13. This became one of the happiest times of her life.

Her joy increased even more as great-grandchildren began to arrive. On Christmas Day 2008, in the middle of preparing Christmas Dinner for the entire family, she was totally taken by surprise when told she was to be a great-grandmother. It was a joyous occasion and she became a great-grandmother for the first time in 2009 with the arrival of not one but two great-grandchildren, a precious baby boy, Will, and a beautiful baby girl, Kate. And not quite 2 years later, more surprises – the birth of amazing twin baby boys, Matthew and John. The birth of sweet baby boy Joshua followed a few weeks later. Her world was full – babies everywhere. And yet there was more to come – a precious baby girl Caroline born just 2 years later and last, but certainly not least, a surprise baby boy, Andrew, arrived in 2017, making the final count 7 great-grandchildren. It didn’t get much better than that. She loved the house filled with their laughter and they loved her, surrounding her with kisses and hugs and an abundance of homemade artwork.

Dee was a homemaker in the very best definition of the word and a great cook. She gathered the family together every holiday and birthday, always making the favorite birthday cake and making sure lots of presents were there. Summer always brought numerous cookouts, the best homemade ice cream ever and fun, swimming in the pool. Christmas was an event, with Christmas china, a full course homemade menu, a fully decorated house, and lots of presents for everyone. She enjoyed serving and doing for others, especially for her family. She created a home with special memories that will last a lifetime.

You can’t mention Dee Centers without talking about her love of gardening, shopping, and pots of black coffee. She and Ray tended a large garden wherever they lived, raising incredible vegetables and flowers, always sharing the abundance with neighbors, friends, and co-workers. They spent hours canning and freezing, putting up fruits and vegetables for later use. Whether with her daughters, granddaughters or sisters, Dee would go just about anywhere for a good shopping excursion. But she certainly got the most enjoyment out of a long day of shopping with her youngest sister Celia, the two stopping often for coffee. Their shopping expeditions are legendary.

Dee was not the most adventurous sort. Even though she spent many years traveling as a military wife, she would much prefer the comforts of home surrounded by her family while drinking coffee, gathered around the kitchen table telling stories and enjoying each others’ company. But during Ray’s last deployment, she conquered her fear of driving which came from being legally blind in one eye and having little peripheral vision, getting her learner’s license at the same time as 15-year old Debbie. Her children teased her unmercifully about always driving with 2 hands on the steering wheel, never letting go even for a second. And, following Ray’s death in 2020, after much persuasion from her only son, she ventured out of her personal comfort zone and decided she could get on a ship again after all and enjoyed a cruise together with just she and Bobby. She had a wonderful time.

In 2000, Ray and Dee made the decision to move to Columbia County and built a new home there. At that time, they had become members of First Baptist Church Augusta and settled in to serving there. Dee became part of a ladies’ Sunday School class and immediately volunteered in various other capacities, such as hosting homeless families in their home, volunteering with the Interfaith Hospitality group, and providing food whenever called on, always willing to serve. They quickly became familiar faces at the church, making many new friendships.

Following multiple health issues with both Ray and Dee, they moved into The Claiborne Assisted Living. Initially Dee was reluctant, however she quickly befriended residents and staff alike. It made no difference to her what position you held or whether you had physical or mental issues, she was a friend to all, often encouraging other residents who needed a gentle push or a friend to walk down the hall with. She listened to their stories and provided encouragement when needed. She made it a point to welcome and help new residents feel comfortable and at home in their new place.

As Ray’s health further declined, Dee became his private nurse and primary caregiver. His death on April 29, 2020, almost 3 years ago to the day, devastated her and was surely her greatest loss. Their love and devotion to each other and the family will be forever cherished and remembered by us, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Theirs was truly a Legacy of Love.

Our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother was an amazing woman, full of humility, compassion and concern for others, always giving of herself so generously. She was the big sister everyone needs, the neighbor you hope moves in next door, and the best friend everyone wants. She not only “talked the talk but walked the walk”. We were immensely blessed that she gave her very best for us, her family. We will never forget.

In addition to Ray, Dee was predeceased by her parents, brother Ray Galbraith and sisters Betty Campbell and Bonnie Duff. She is survived by her children, Debbie and Aubrey Wallace, Bobby and Margaret Centers, Lori and Brian Braswell; grandchildren, Kelly and Billy Hughes, Amanda and Joe Todd, and Maggie Centers; great-grandchildren, Will, Joshua and Caroline Hughes, and Kate, Matthew, John and Andrew Todd; her sisters Mary Coleman and Celia Sparks, her brother Harlan Galbraith, and many beloved nieces and nephews.

The family will be forever grateful to the entire staff at Brandon Wilde Skilled Nursing Facility “The Pavilion”, Alayna Edwards/Regency Hospice, The Claiborne at West Lake, Nikki Hill/Professional Care Companions, for their loving care and concern for “Miss Dee”.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church Augusta Benevolence and Music Ministry.
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Past Services

Graveside Service

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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