August 6, 1918 – December 18, 2018
On December 18, 2018, the energy industry lost a Legend. Early that day, Townsend family matriarch and longtime industry stalwart Dorothy Townsend passed away surrounded by her loved ones. Having reached the remarkable age of 100 last August, Dorothy, or Dot as her friends knew her, lived a truly amazing life; and while her passing leaves a notable space in all our hearts, the collective heart of our industry will always be fuller for having known her presence and shared in her warmth and strength.
Dorothy Townsend grew up Dorothy McElroy. In 1946, she married Warren Townsend, a World War II veteran and one of six sons of Townsend Oil’s founding owner, Mial E. Townsend. Dorothy joined Warren in the family business right away and soon became the trusted “voice of the company” that greeted and assisted customers when they called the office. She and Warren would have four children together, including daughters Ellen and Mary Lou and sons Mark and Jim. Mark and Jim joined the business in the 1970s and today serve as Townsend Energy President and CEO, respectively. After more than 40 years in the industry, both readily acknowledge that their mother’s influence continues to be felt at Townsend Energy.
“The values that she and Dad instilled in Mark and I are represented in the Mission Statement and Core Values of Townsend Energy today,” said Jim. “All those who knew Dot, and were fortunate enough to call her a friend, were inspired by her, and are better today for having known this great lady, our Mom.”
“Our mother and father loved the employees, customers, and this industry, and raised us to do the same,” added Mark. “She was very proud of the fact that even the fourth generation was in the business and carrying on that tradition. We will all greatly miss her.”
While the story of a family business growing stronger by staying true to its roots is noteworthy unto itself, the story of Townsend Energy and Dorothy Townsend is all the more striking because she continued to work for the company well into her 90s, coming into the office just about every single day and helping out in any way she could. She assisted in customer service and bookkeeping, but according to Jim, her official title was “Life Coach, and what a coach she was.”
Over the years, Dorothy’s kind voice and beaming personality would become familiar not only to Townsend Energy customers and employees but also the industry at large. A longtime member and supporter of NEFI, she was the oldest living NEFI Legend of Oilheat, a title she was proud to share with Jim as the only mother-son duo to hold this distinction.
“Dorothy Townsend left an admired legacy, which has made an impact on the world around it,” said NEFI President & CEO Sean Cota. “She was a shining example of leadership, persistence, ethics and hard work. Dot and Warren’s leadership in business and the community was contagious. They expected the best from everyone while being the best themselves. We are saddened by the loss and enriched because of who they were.”
In the days and weeks following Dorothy’s passing, the Townsend family received countless messages of support and condolence from friends and associates in NEFI and across the industry. “We are so very grateful for this tremendous outpouring,” said Jim. “We already knew Mom meant a lot to many people, but it was truly heartening to hear from those who respected and admired her so much. It means the world to us.”