Emily (Dolly) Jane McKernan

Date of Birth

July 25, 1931

Date of Death

July 15, 2022

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Emily Jane McKernan (Dolly) passed away at Villa Alamar in Santa Barbara, California, on July 15, 2022. Dolly courageously endured a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Bravery was a way of life for Dolly as she used courage, determination and humor to move on after blindness struck a blow to her active, busy and colorful life at the age of 64. After briefly mourning her loss of sight, she went on to find ways to live life fully again. She began to visit the Braille Institute of Santa Barbara, remarkably becoming a teacher there. She taught classes on cooking and craft making. She was included in one of their advertising campaigns, both video and poster media. She assisted the Institute with the Christmas fundraiser and she and her husband Tom attended many of their activities and events. She wrote a cookbook, Cooking Without Looking. Dolly was also able to continue with hobbies such as bowling, activities with the Model A Club of Santa Barbara and at the Goleta Elks Lodge. She continued traveling with friends and family. Dolly has a lovely way of putting others at ease with her blindness, never making it seem like a disability or handicap. She set up her household and her life in an admirable fashion, inspiring so many unsighted people to have courage with their own difficulties or discouragements.

Dolly Crosby was born in Detroit Michigan on July 25, 1931, to Margaret and Gordon Crosby. She married Tom McKernan in 1949 and they started a family there, moving to Goleta in 1962 with Delco Electronics They lived in Goleta for the next 60 years.
Dolly worked at McDonalds at the beginning of their hostess program, charming both customers and staff. She was employed there for 9 years. She also cared for her granddaughters, Brie and Nicole when they were little and became a big part of their lives. Family was everything to Dolly. She and Tom helped each of their children and grandchildren in ways big and small. When Dolly had to be admitted to Villa Alamar, Tom visited her every day until he, too, became ill, and then their oldest son Dan faithfully drove Tom to see Dolly daily for the next several years. Their devotion to each other was a love story of a bygone era and an inspiring model for their children and their families.

Dolly is survived by her three sons, Daniel (Lisa), Michael (Janine), and Kenneth (June) as well as granddaughter Brie Milligan (Ryan) and many grandchildren.

Remembered with love, smiles and happy times, Dolly McKernan will live on through those who knew her and loved her.
A graveside service will be held at the Goleta Cemetery on Friday, July 29 at 10:00 am.

Contributions to the Braille Institute of Santa Barbara may be made in Dolly’s memory.


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