By Robert Alan Glover
Mary Dorothy “Dot” LaMarche has been an advocate for respecting life from conception to natural death throughout her life.
“This is the way that I was raised by my parents — in the Catholic faith — and to believe that even the unborn have a right to life,” said Mrs. LaMarche, a Farragut resident who grew up in Nashville, graduating from St. Bernard Academy and the old St. Thomas School of Nursing.
That dedication to the pro-life cause was recognized during the Tennessee Right to Life annual Pro-Life Women’s Day event at the State Capitol on April 6 when she was presented the Lifetime Pro-Life Advocacy Award.
“I was very surprised and humbled” to receive the award, said Mrs. LaMarche, who is a member of St. John Neumann Parish. “There are a lot of people who have done more, a lot more.”
That’s not the way Stacy Dunn, the Tennessee Right to Life state president, saw it.
“This lady has done so much in the pro-life movement that it is going to be difficult to do it justice,” Mrs. Dunn said in presenting the award.
Mrs. LaMarche is a former member of the Tennessee Right to Life state board and is a current member of the board for the Knox County chapter.
In her roles in the pro-life movement, Mrs. LaMarche has had numerous responsibilities.
“These obligations include looking after all the different programs that we have going all across the state and working hard (to oppose) any laws that may be passed that allow abortions,” said Mrs. LaMarche, who also served as an alderwoman and vice mayor of the town of Farragut from 2003-11.
Her joint love of nursing, counseling, and overall public service also included working with Birth Choice in North Carolina for several years.
“I counseled women who were coming in for a pregnancy test, and my goal was on convincing them to keep their baby, something that I had several especially wonderful successes with,” Mrs. LaMarche said.
She recounted how a mother who was contemplating an abortion discovered she was “carrying twins, and she told me she could kill one baby but not two,” said Mrs. LaMarche.
Another experience involved a young, expectant mother who Mrs. LaMarche encountered again after her initial counseling.
“I pray every day for these women, and I prayed that she would make the right decision,” Mrs. LaMarche said.
“Sometime later I met her again while my car was being repaired, and she told me how I had helped her decide to keep her baby, and I have several other wonderful stories like this one,” Mrs. LaMarche said.
Getting to one of those moments, however, is no easy task, as she explained.
“You have to be very kind and loving in your approach to them (the expectant mothers), even if they don’t want to keep the baby themselves, and encourage them to give it life and happiness to another family through adoption,” Mrs. LaMarche said.
Adoption is something that Mrs. LaMarche knows very well; the second of her three children was adopted.
“We adopted her from a children’s home in Memphis, and I do believe that because of this I was blessed with a third child,” Mrs. LaMarche said.
She also has this simple advice for someone who is considering abortion: “Having the baby and giving it up for adoption is a wonderful way to give life; why take it away?”
In introducing Mrs. LaMarche, Mrs. Dunn outlined some of Mrs. LaMarche’s accomplishments.
“Taking care of babies was part of who she was, beginning from when her mother brought home twin boys from the hospital and told Dot and her brother they each had a baby brother to take care of,” Mrs. Dunn said.
Mrs. Dunn also acknowledged Mrs. LaMarches’s career in nursing. “To Dot nursing was a vocation.”
“She was an intensive care nurse, an oncology nurse, and an emergency room nurse, but her love of life has been her passion,” Mrs. Dunn said. “Dot was a dedicated counselor at Hope Resource Center in Knoxville, spending many years talking to abortion-minded women about life, love, and helping them choose life for their babies.”
Rosetta Graham of Nashville is Mrs. LaMarche’s younger sister who also attended the Pro-Life Women’s Day event.
“Dot and I go every year because it’s an annual luncheon where we attempt to rally Right-to-Life leaders and others from all over Tennessee to fight abortion,” Mrs. Graham said.
“Through her work as a link between doctors and others (in nursing), her work in North Carolina for 19 years, and her constant counseling of women against having an abortion, Dot has saved many lives,” Mrs. Graham added.
Mrs. LaMarche’s sister noted that the award “was a complete surprise; Dot did not know, and it’s still hard to believe even though she’s so awesome and has done so much good work,” Mrs. Graham said.
The younger sibling echoed her sister’s feelings about abortion, describing it as “a terrible curse on our country, because who knows what the child that is killed might have become or would have done — even discovering a cure for cancer,” Mrs. Graham said.