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The Ballad of Dorothy Lee

from The Kinfolk Chronicles by Tommy Wiggins



This is my mom Dorothy Lee Braasch Wiesner’s story, and I’m sticking to it. Orphaned at 11, her babies, their babies and their babies’ babies were everything to her. Each one of us was the best, and singing this song means everything to me. “Look out boys. Look out girls. Here she comes, the Orphan Girl. She’s gonna find a good life on her own.”


The Ballad of Dorothy Lee

Dorothy Lee was an orphan girl
She was sent away back in ‘37
to the little northwoods town
sisters and her brothers, they weren’t around
the girl just turned eleven
She was standing at that station
suitcase in her hand
Mama just turned eleven
with a suitcase in her hand

She grew up and she moved on
from the little northwoods town
left her aunt and uncle at the station
The boys were off to war back in ‘43
and there were good jobs in the city
and Mama was pretty

Look out boys, look out world
here she comes, the Orphan Girl
she’s gonna’ find a good life of her own
Met him at a ballroom dance
he had just shipped home from France
he fell in love, with the orphan girl

Made some babies, made a home
her boys made some babies of their own
They called her “grandma”
She knew she was blessed beyond her dreams
cuz’ all she wanted was a family
when she was standing at that station
suitcase in her hand
Mama just turned eleven
with a suitcase in her hand

Grandkids there to hold here hand
picture of her mama on the nightstand
Dorothy Lee knew that her days had come to pass
and there’d be peace at last

Look out boys, look out world
you were no match for the Orphan Girl
she found what she needed in this life
Mama’s gone and that’s all right
She’s up there with her Lord tonight
She loved each and every one of us the best

Train took Mama to that northwoods town
back in ‘37
Her three boys, we brought her back again
in summer two thousand ‘leven
©2011 Tommy Wiggins


from The Kinfolk Chronicles, released December 1, 2022
Dorothy Lee Braasch Wiesner was born in the family log cabin outside Jansen, Nebraska on January 2, 1926. Her mother Cornelia had been a widow with three children…Gladys, Bud and Hazel, when she married Carl Braasch Sr.

Cornelia and Carl had five children: Max, Dorothy, Carl Jr., Malvery and Mary Lou.
Cornelia died during pregnancy when Dorothy was seven, and her father Carl died when she was 13.

After her father died, Dorothy and the younger children individually went to live with relatives around the country. Dorothy took the train to Warroad, Minnesota to live with Uncle Dick and Aunt Edith Willems. She graduated from Warroad High School in 1943 and moved to St. Paul. She loved to travel, venturing and living for short times in Boston, Washington DC and Chicago with several young women with whom she stayed lifelong friends.

Dorothy met Tom Wiesner in 1946 and they married in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1948. Dorothy and Tom had four children, Thomas Jr., Patricia Rose, who died shortly after birth, Stephen and William. The family settled in St. Paul. Tom worked in the medical supply field, a trade that he learned in the service during World War II. Dorothy was a homemaker, raised her boys and occasionally worked preparing taxes and as a hospital receptionist.

Having lost her own family at an early age, Dorothy’s growing family meant everything to her. Son Tom Jr. and daughter-in-law Georgia have two children, Matt and Sarah. Steve has son Stephen D. Lemire, daughter Stephanie, and with daughter-in-law Cassie has young sons Drake and Scout. William (she called him Bill the Elder) has William (Bill the Younger) and Jeffrey.

As for Great-Grandchildren, Stephen D. has Lily, Lucy and Sammy, Stephanie has Mia and Jackson and Sarah and husband Michael Walker have Owen.

In 2001 Dorothy moved to Bethany Community in Alexandria, MN to be near Steve, Stephanie, Bill and the growing number of grand- and great-grandchildren. Dorothy made many friends during her nine years at Bethany Community and felt fortunate to live in such a caring place with so many friendly people.

Those of us who knew Dorothy have been touched by her positive spirit, ready laugh and ability to always see the bright side. She loved her Lord, made each person in her family feel special, worried about everyone but herself, didn’t complain and truly felt that she was lucky in this life.

We will always remember and love our Dorothy Lee, who always cared for and loved us.


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Tommy Wiggins Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville’s Tommy Wiggins began writing songs by kerosene lamp in a Rocky Mountain cabin. He’s been writing, recording and performing his own funky blend of folky, bluesy, country-funk ever since. Tommy recently bought a camper van and is writing songs along the road. New album in 2022 - "When My Brain Goes On Vacation." When your brain goes on vactation, where do YOU go? ... more

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