Doris “Dodie” DuBois Thayer Hawthorn, the daughter of pioneers John and Bessie DuBois, who designed status-symbol Lettuce Ware pottery starting in the mid-1960s, died July 19 after a “brief illness,” according to an obituary from Jupiter-based Taylor & Modeen Funeral Home. She was 91.
Better known as Dodie Thayer, her pottery, which started as a hobby, was a hit with the likes of Frank and Barbara Sinatra, Jacqueline Kennedy, C.Z. Guest and Palm Beach elites. Queen Elizabeth II even ate lunch on a set of specially ordered Lettuce Ware when she visited a Kentucky horse farm in 1986, according to The Palm Beach Post archives. The unique wares, which she created through the mid-1980s, resembled the real thing: lettuce — or, more accurately, cabbage — with stark white veins and bright green flesh.
She never wanted to sell her pieces to a mass market, interior designer Mimi McMakin told the Post in 2010, that is until fashion designer Tory Burch called her in 2013. Still available on Burch’s website, the Dodie Thayer for Tory Burch collection comes in either green or white and ranges from $78 for a candle to a $350 tureen — quite affordable compared to how much Thayer’s originals can fetch in auction.
Though her clientele included the rich and famous, she tended to prefer the quieter and private aspects of life, her daughter Lisa Jefferson told the Post in 2010. This included spending time with her family and swimming in the Loxahatchee River in front of her Jupiter home.
That’s just the way life was when she grew up.
Thayer was born July 29, 1926 to John and Bessie DuBois. She grew up in the historical DuBois family home with her three siblings and parents, who ran a fishing camp and restaurant near the Jupiter Lighthouse.
“I would take one of my Daddy’s rowboats and row out in front of the lighthouse and anchor and sketch,” Thayer told the Post in 2010, when she was 83. “I must have been 9 or 10.”
Thayer is the granddaughter of Henry “Harry” DuBois, who owned 18 acres in south Jupiter Inlet that is now known as DuBois Park, according to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Thayer graduated from Florida State University in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in home economics, according to the obituary. She married Palm Beach Day School history teacher William Thayer and they had five children before divorcing.
Thayer married Jim Hawthorn in the late 1970s, and they enjoyed deep-sea fishing together. She was a member of the International Women’s Fishing Association.
“It was a rare weekend that she and … Hawthorn … weren’t out fishing for sailfish,” her obituary reads, in part.
According to the obituary, Thayer is survived by four of her children — Jefferson, Laura Thayer, Mary Ferrell and Bill Thayer; eight grandchildren — Marisa Jefferson and Peter Jefferson, Dita Ferrel Baker, Daylen Ferrell Sutton, Jennifer Thayer Slack, Billy Thayer, Ben Thayer and Jill Thayer; and and three great-grandchildren — Lillian Slack, Eleanor Slack and Emerie Rose Sutton. Hawthorn and daughter Hannah Thayer predeceased Thayer.
Donations can be made in lieu of flowers to the Lighthouse ArtCenter School of Art in Tequesta, where she was a one of the seven founding members. A service for friends and family will be held Aug. 4 at Taylor & Modeen Funeral Home, 250 Center St., Jupiter.