Jacqueline “Denise” Dorsett Gaskins

Published 6:15 am Saturday, May 11, 2024

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Jacqueline “Denise” Dorsett Gaskins, 69, of Avon, NC passed away in the comfort of her home while surrounded by family and dear friends on May 7th, 2024.

Born March 10, 1955, in Norfolk, VA to the late William Herbert Dorsett Sr. and Jacqueline Clark Dorsett, Denise spent her childhood living a real-life children’s storybook adventure in the Grassfield area of Chesapeake, VA. From raising steer, 4-H fun, ziplining from the hayloft, and riding bareback through the fields, to drag-racing her brother’s cars and wrestling the boys on a bet, Denise’s childhood was rich with loving, supportive parents, and siblings as her first best friends.

Her love of art grew throughout high school and was refined as she studied watercolor under the late Robert Burnell. A celebrated Outer Banks artist, Denise’s paintings have been featured on the covers of catalogs and cookbooks, and grace many walls near and far. She graduated from Deep Creek High School in 1973 with both her diploma and cosmetology license. She was a huge proponent of technical education, as hers served her well over the next 50 years as a hairdresser. In that time, she created deep connections with customers who became friends. Seeing them through decades of life events as she cut, colored, and styled their hair, a caring and intimate act.

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Denise married Warren Gaskins Jr. in November of 1973 and began her greatest adventure when she became a mother a couple of years later. They moved to Avon in 1987 where she became an integral part of her community. Denise was co-owner of The Gaskins Gallery for 21 years, and Hair by the Sea for 31 years. She developed beautiful friendships and led by example, teaching others what community service looks like.

Denise’s love of Christ, along with her can-do spirit, made her an instrumental disciple at St. John United Methodist Church. Her talent as an artist enriched years of Vacation Bible School. In 2013, Denise felt God calling her to “Feed My Flock.”  With this, the Free Community Dinners at St. John UMC began. She spent the next 11 years leading her passion project, a dinner served once weekly for ten weeks each winter with the support of dedicated volunteers and church members. Denise envisioned it as a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, with the “haves” and “have-nots” eating together. The meal was to be open to all; just like Christ’s table. She loved to feed others and witness community fellowship. Growing from 59 meals served at the first dinner in 2013 to 300 each week during the past three years, approximately 13,300 meals have been served under her leadership. She trained her volunteers well and has passed the baton into their capable hands.

In 2020 when St. John UMC was presented with an opportunity to expand their property, Denise fearlessly advocated to accomplish the church’s God-size dream of providing a safe place for young people to gather in meaningful fellowship, and strengthen the community of this island and beyond – ideals that Denise fully embodied. The vision of “Ret’s Retreat” (officially known as Hatteras Island Christian Retreat Center) was born. Denise was a founding sponsor of Heart Space – a non-profit art space that supports the wellness of Hatteras Island teens. She knew the healing power of art and the great value of our youth.  She gave to her church, work, and community with her whole heart. Above all though, she was most proud of her three children and 9 grandchildren. Denise’s physical presence will be greatly missed but the legacy she leaves will continue.

Denise is survived by her son Warren “Tater” Gaskins III and wife Jennifer; daughter Antoinette Gaskins; daughter Amanda Tucker and husband Jeremy; grandchildren Foster, Olivia, Sumner, Chey, Jackie, Libby, Jane, Ellis, and Joey; sister Annie Roche and husband Eddie; sister-in-law Sheila Crowe and husband Ron. She leaves behind beloved nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews, a large extended family, and cherished friends who became family by bond rather than blood.

Denise was predeceased by her parents Jackie and Herbert Dorsett; brother Herby Dorsett and husband, Warren Gaskins Jr.

In lieu of flowers, she requested donations to St. John United Methodist Church for Ret’s Retreat PO Box 129 Avon, NC 27915 and Heart Space PO Box 328, Avon, NC 27915. A visitation was held Friday, May 10, 2024 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at St. John United Methodist Church. The funeral will be at St. John Church Saturday, May 11, 2024 at 11 a.m. The burial will be private. Gallop Funeral Services, Inc. was entrusted with arrangements.