Tricounty News

Dorothy (Leppa) Brodnax, 89



Dorothy Brodnax died peacefully at her home in Memphis, Tenn., Saturday, July 7, 2012, after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 89,

Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 10, at the Wilson Chapel of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis. Visitation was at 10 a.m. in the parlor of Christ United Methodist Church. Burial was in the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Dorothy V. Brodnax was born May 17, 1923, to William E. and Emma (Ryti) Leppa in a farmhouse in North Kingston Township, Meeker County, owned by her grandparents Matt A. and Hilda (Merila) Leppa.

She graduated from Kimball High School and St. Cloud State University and became a registered nurse. She entered the United States Army Nurse Corps as a second lieutenant during World War II and was assigned to the 139th Evacuation Hospital. There she followed General Patton's Third Army across Europe, caring for wounded soldiers and even working in a concentration camp at Ebensee, Austria, after it had been liberated by the Third Army. She left the Army as a first lieutenant, and married Phil Brodnax, a Nashville, Tenn., jeweler, whom she had met while they were both serving in the United States. Army. Mr. Brodnax preceded her in death in 1999. She continued her nursing career in Nashville, first as Director of the Medical Department for Swift & Co., and then as administrator of an extended care facility for the Hillhaven Corporation. She moved to Memphis with her husband in 1970, so he could oversee the growing Brodnax Jewelry store chain. In Memphis, she worked as vice president of operations for the Hillhaven Corporation and then became president of the Hillhaven Foundation, providing nationwide leadership in the fields of aging and long-term care. Upon retirement, she opened a retail shop, and along with her daughter Shelley, she enjoyed buying and selling French and English antiquities, a life-long passion.

In 2006, she contributed her memoirs of World War II in a filmed interview for the "Veterans History Project," an effort created by and now housed in the National Library of Congress to honor "The Greatest Generation."

She was preceded in death by her husband Phillip Brodnax; parents William E. and Emma Leppa; sisters Marjorie Ramsey, and Mary Ann Grimmell.

She is survived by her daughter Shelley B. (and Dr. Richard A.) Miller, Jr., son Phillip Brodnax III, both of Memphis, Tenn.; and five grandchildren.