Linda Suzanne (Dorsey) Blum died on June 15, 2019 of complications related to lung cancer. She was born in Washington DC on September 10, 1948 to the late John and Veda Dorsey. She was wife to Dr. Jeffrey C. Blum, mother to Carrie Ritter and Julie Blum, and grandmother to Jackson and Carly Ritter. Linda also was stepmother to Kevin Canade and Becky (Canade) King, the children of her beloved deceased cousin. She is survived by her sister Katherine Larrabee of MD and her brother John Dorsey of VA.
Linda’s pragmatism, humor, and courage contributed to a remarkable survival despite a serious prognosis. During her illness, she remained witty and playful as always, often dressing in costume for medical appointments to brighten the days of her care team. She was empathetic to the challenges in treating seriously ill patients, such as herself. Following full brain radiation, Linda gave the radiology department an oil painting she created that represented the visions experienced during therapy. She hoped to help other patients undergoing similar treatment. Linda participated with 4 other Levine Cancer Center patients in a short TV documentary to help promote lung cancer awareness in women.
Throughout her adult life, Linda was dedicated to the care and comfort of her family. Her focus on home and hearth allowed each family member to flourish and excel. In turn, she nourished herself with activities that stemmed from her roots and innate curiosity. Linda delighted in learning and mastering new skills. She enjoyed professional football, travel, car racing, dancing, art lessons and painting, sailing, downhill skiing, golfing, SCUBA diving, reading and crossword puzzles. Linda’s effervescent personality resulted in her being recruited by a local car dealership to star in a TV commercial and shone through during her dramatic role in a local theater production. She was an excellent cook, often sharing new recipes. Among family, she was known for her collection of fun table games and a creative, animated spirit that was infectious to all participants. On the Blum sailboat, she could serve as both captain and crew. In later years she became an accomplished artist, often gifting painting to friends and family.
Prior to marriage, Linda was an American Airlines flight attendant, a career she imagined while still in high school, though she had never flown. She became certified to serve on five types of commercial planes. During that time, she met Jeff, who soon was to be a student at Maryland University Medical School. They were married in 1971. He studied; she flew. As a result of conflicting schedules, in the first year they spent only 150 days together. With humor, Linda attributed these absences to the success of their early marriage. After Jeff completed medical training, they eventually settled in Concord, NC, in 1982. As Jeff concentrated on helping to establish a radiology practice, Linda’s focus was 8-year old Carrie and 5-year old Julie.
Linda quickly became a regular volunteer at her girls’ public school, stepping in where needed. After noting inconsistencies in student vision screening results, Linda initiated improvements by replacing paper charts with digital vision screeners donated by local ophthalmologists. Over time she expanded the program from elementary school through 12th grade. The program’s growth and success required numerous volunteers, so Linda eventually arranged for the Cabarrus Medical Auxiliary to administer the program. In 1984, for her significant volunteerism, Linda received the Governor's Volunteer Service Award. Several years later, Linda was installed as President of the Cabarrus County Medical Auxiliary. She also became one of three regional vice presidents of the North Carolina Medical Society Alliance to oversee community health projects in more than 20 NC counties.
In 1991 Linda helped to bring a national puppet program, sponsored by the Association of Retarded Citizens, to Cabarus County elementary schools. Known as Kids on the Block, the program was aimed at helping 4th graders breakdown psychological barriers related to children with disabilities. Six, 2-foot tall Japanese puppetry were employed in 4 different skits. Linda became the personality of one puppet and, as always, thoroughly enjoyed her interaction with the children.
With an empty nest after rearing 4 teens, Linda and Jeff moved from Concord to a home they built on Lake Norman where they could enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. Then, in summer 2018, they relocated to a new home, which Linda fondly referred to as their “nest”.
Linda grew up in Clinton, MD, 15 miles from the nation’s capitol but rural at the time. She was the youngest of three children. The family, including a set of grandparents, lived in a small house built by her father. As Linda grew in size, she would join the family and neighbors on the back porch to snap beans and shuck peas and corn from the family’s 2-acre garden. Linda learned to ride a two-wheeler, without the benefit of training wheels, on a dusty gravel country road. She played softball on a diamond her father constructed over a wild strawberry patch for neighborhood games. She enjoyed dance lessons, including tap, ballet, and Hawaiian. Later she became a dance instructor of tap and hula. Her love of dance was apparent in her marriage as together she and Jeff tackled ballroom and shag dancing.
In Linda’s late teens, she became the youngest cheerleader for the Washington Redskins professional football team. Later in life, she and her daughters cheered the Carolina Panthers from behind the team bench near the 50-year line. Despite advanced cancer, in 2015 when her beloved Panthers played in Super Bowl 50, Linda traveled to the game in CA to cheer them on. A few years later, the Panthers’ cat mascot, known as Sir Purr, visited Linda during a chemo treatment at the Levine Cancer Center.
When growing up, Linda was exposed to automotive talk and car racing. In her late teens, she was known to drag race her own second-hand foreign car on a country road. The loser would buy the winner a full tank of gas. These years spawned her love of the Corvette. With a license plate that read Vet #4, Linda jokingly would say, “Every grandmother should drive a 7-speed, 450HP sports car.” She was proud of her participation at Corvette and NASCAR driving schools. Linda also enjoyed attending NASCAR races, especially with her father.
Linda never met a stranger. She gave freely of herself to others, without expectations. Linda’s ever-present smile, playfulness and ability to live in the present has been her gift to family, friends, and others.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Linda’s memory be made to the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina at https://www.lungcancerinitiativenc.org/donate
Please join our family for a service celebrating the life of Linda Blum on Saturday, September 14th at 2:00PM. It will take place at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Charlotte located at 234 N. Sharon Amity Road, Charlotte, NC 2811. Following the service, light refreshments will be served in the adjoining fellowship hall, where guests will have the opportunity to share stories. Out of town guest can secure hotel accommodations at the Hilton Garden Inn and/or Homewood Suites-4808 Sharon Road, Charlotte, NC 28210.