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Dorothy Yee

Dorothy Yee

Dorothy Wagner was born to Clifford and Laura Alice Wagner on June 25, 1929, on a farm 3 miles west of Millet. Dorothy had an older sister, Lauranetta, and an older brother, William. While living on the farm, Dorothy would be expected to help with milking and feeding the calves. She would also love to play ball and drown out gophers. Dorothy and her siblings attended West Liberty School before moving into Millet in 1941. They lived in several homes before settling in the Gibling house near the old skating and curling rink in Millet.

Dorothy attended Millet School after moving into town. She left school in 1945 and began working in some of the local restaurants in Millet. She gained a lot of experience in the restaurant business, both cooking and serving.

Dorothy left Mallar’s restaurant in June 1945 and began working at the Wellington Café in August 1945.  The Wellington Café was owned by Charlie Yee and his son Hong. A connection sparked between Hong and Dorothy and they were married on May 26, 1947.

Dorothy and Hong has a busy year in 1947. They had decided to tear down and rebuild a modern building that would house their new restaurant, the Rainbow Grill, which opened on December 18, 1947. The restaurant was open seven days a week as soon as they opened. That same year, Dorothy and Hong welcomed their first son, Zane. Zane was joined by three brothers, Chell, Mayne, and Darold, and one sister, Charlotte. The children were raised in the restaurant, as the restaurant had living quarters for the family in the back. The kids were expected to help with running the restaurant: they had chores to do and waited on customers. Unfortunately, there were no family vacations where the family was able to get away all together. Usually, Dorothy would take the children to the beach for the day while Hong stayed home to run the restaurant. They were committed to the community, and were open every day of the year except for Christmas. Dorothy and Hong owned and operated the Rainbow Grill for 30 years. In 1976, just prior to retirement, they built themselves a new home at 222 Wilk Drive in Wilk Estates. In 1977 the couple was ready for retirement. None of their children wanted to take over the restaurant, so they sold it to Hong’s cousin Kai.

Along with raising a family and running a restaurant. Dorothy also found time to be involved with many community organizations. She was a member of the Rebekah Lodge, Friends of the Library, the Arts & Craft Guild, and she was the Charter president of the Lioness Club. Even during retirement, she continued to be involved with these organizations, and helped with bingo fundraisers for many of the clubs in Millet. In 1988, Dorothy received a Lioness of the Year award from the Millet Lions. In 2004 she received a Lifetime Contribution Award from the Millet Chamber of Commerce, recognizing how much Dorothy had contributed to Millet.

Dorothy and her family faced great tragedy in 1996. She lost her middle son, Mayne Yee, on November 9, 1996, and her husband Hong on November 27, 1996. Dorothy lived out the rest of her retirement in Millet, until her passing on December 13, 2007.