Doris Lucy Isabelle, 87, passed away December 2, 2019 in her apartment at Sunrise at Burke (VA) with family by her side.
Doris was the firstborn to parents Oscar Alfred and Lucy (née St. Jacques) Isabelle on August 16, 1932 in Keene, NH. She grew up in Laconia, NH—attending Catholic school as well as studying piano and organ at Sacred Heart. Her surviving siblings are Rachel Downs, Oscar Isabelle, Jr., William Isabelle and Louise Weeks. Doris’s sister, Ellen Morin, preceded her in death in 2018.
Graduating from Laconia High School in 1951, Doris attended and received her degree in music from Boston University in 1955. She is survived by her college roommate and lifelong best friend, Carol Irons.
On November 12 of that year, Doris married Donald (“Donn”) Rodolphe Hamel (a fellow Laconian, classmate and her first-grade crush) upon his completion of officer’s school with the U.S. Navy. They honeymooned in Miami before Donn’s first assignment in Maine. They were subsequently stationed in San Diego, Arlington, Boston, Chicago and finally northern Virginia. They built a new home in Franconia VA and moved in September, 1971. At the rank of Captain, Donn retired from the Navy in 1979. He then worked in upper-level administration for contracting firms within the Beltway area. His final job—and greatest joy—was office manager for the Little Theatre of Alexandria (“LTA”). Doris was predeceased by the love of her life in November, 1994 who is entombed at Arlington National Cemetery.
Doris and Donn had three sons: Kent Andrew (1960-Jamaica Queens, NY), Dale Matthew (1961-San Diego, CA) and Scott Lawrence (1965-Bethesda, MD). Dale passed away at her home in October, 1994 and is inurned at Fairfax Memorial Park.
During her years as a military wife, she passionately and lovingly focused on her husband’s career, children and homemaking. She taught private piano and voice lessons and undertook short-term substitute teaching jobs. She volunteered at Fort Belvoir hospital for several years. She and Donn immersed themselves in the St. Lawrence Catholic Church parish—teaching CCD classes for many years.
As an LTA member, Doris played in musical orchestras and rehearsals; she also performed various backstage activities. She coached countless performers individually for auditions and roles. On more than one occasion, she was Donn’s “Girl Friday” for the many musicals he produced for the late Roland Branford Gomez. She might be best remembered for her long partnership with Roland in the musical comedy theatre training they offered through LTA’s education department. During later years, she participated in the LTA council. Upon Donn’s passing, she established the Donald R. Hamel Award for Outstanding Choreography for annual LTA award ceremonies.
A funeral mass to celebrate the life of Doris will be held at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, 6222 Franconia Road, Alexandria, VA 22310, on Monday, December 16 at 11:00 am.
In lieu of flowers please make contributions in Doris’s name to the Council of the Little Theatre of Alexandria via Lloyd Bittinger, Financial Officer, by check or credit card by calling (202) 253-7747 or emailing [email protected] or mailing to 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.
Doris will be inurned with Donn at Arlington Cemetery at a later date.