Home News Local News Kaitlyn Doorhy’s parents celebrate their daughter’s life with memories, photos

Kaitlyn Doorhy’s parents celebrate their daughter’s life with memories, photos

One of the highlights of Kaitlyn Doorhy’s summer happened when she was walking in Southampton and someone tapped her on the shoulder, told her she loved her dress, and asked where she’d gotten it. Kaitlyn told the woman she was wearing Michael Kors — a designer she loved; she even worked at Michael Kors — and it was only after she’d lifted her signature designer sunglasses that she realized the woman asking had been Khloe Kardashian.

“She didn’t realize who it was at first,” her mom Darla said. “It was only when she lifted up her sunglasses that she just started to shake.”

That bright summer day was only a few weeks ago, but in a heartbeat, everything changed when Kaitlyn, just 20, was struck by a car and died on Friday.

She will be buried wearing the very same Michael Kors dress — and her Strawberry Queen crown.

Kaitlyn has touched lives across the board — condolences have been coming from far and wide. Even, in fact, from Michael Kors — flowers arrived from Jeff Dunn, vice president of outlets, with deep sympathy.

At the Doorhy house in Mattituck on Thursday, a beautiful home filled with framed photos of Kaitlyn along with her parents, Joe and Darla, and sister Carly, a steady stream of visitors brought flowers, food, and an outpouring of love unprecedented in a small town still reeling from unexpected loss and utter heartbreak.

Sitting in a room dedicated to Kaitlyn, Joe and Darla Doorhy gather years’ worth of photos of their girl, along with a sea of medals, certificates and awards Kaitlin received for her commitment not only to academics, but to sports, community service, and a lifetime of living every day of her 20 years to the fullest.

Remembering their daughter, the Doorhys choose to celebrate her life, a life she lived fully — reaching for the stars with a can-do attitude and a bright smile for which she’ll be remembered forever.

Through his tears, Joe Doorhy described his beloved daughter. “She couldn’t afford herself,” he said, an expression the family uses often when remembering a young woman with a penchant for Hermes and Chanel, Michael Kors and other high-end designer labels.

Kaitlyn’s room, which she decorated with a designer’s eye in shades of chocolate, is quiet now; on her bed her jewelry box of Michael Kors watches sits beside her Strawberry Queen sash — she was crowned Strawberry Queen by the Mattituck Lions in 2011. Kaitlyn “wore that crown well,” her mother said.

On the shelves sits a Hermes bag — “She was afraid to tell me she bought it in Italy,” her father said. Now, he says, although some have said he and his wife spoiled the girls, he has no regrets. “I’m so glad we did,” he said.

Her closet still bursts with a bright array of dresses and stiletto heels. “She never wore the same outfit twice,” her father said. “She looked like a model every time she walked out the door, and came in the door. She’s up in heaven now, showing them how to dress.”

“She was a girl of fashion,” her mother agreed.

But on a side table sits the sad testament to her last hours — a handprint made at the hospital where she lay dying, a lock of her shiny blonde hair, and her heartbeat charts, carefully rolled and sealed in pink tubes. “All the nurses at the hospital were crying,” Joe Doorhy said.

Kaitlyn was just about to begin her junior year at Sacred Heart University, and was headed to an orientation event with her Kappa Delta Sorority sisters when tragedy struck, her mother explained; memorial donations are requested to be sent to the sorority.

Looking back at her long list of shining accomplishments, her father said, “She did more in 20 years than I did in 53. She lived a better life than I ever did, and I’m so happy for that.”

At Mattituck High School, the list of achievements was long: Not only did she graduate with honors, but Kaitlyn was an alter server at Sacred Heart, a member of the NJROTC, a Girl Scout who received the highest honors, National Honor Society, varsity soccer, and first place in DECA. Not only did she play the sax, alto sax, flute and piano, but she played her instrument at the Vatican in Italy. She was a member of the jazz and concert band, and participated in the Heritage Festival and Music in the Parks. In her sorority, she was a rising star, she was a whiz at computers, volunteered at Maureen’s Haven, a local blood drive, participated in Relay for Life, a 5K run for the Mattituck High School booster club, and received the highest scores at the NYSSMA music festival. She was an enthusiastic cheerleader, soccer player, artist, vocalist, and spent years in dance. And she participated in the National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, DC in 2009. She’d also wanted to give back by building homes for the poor in Honduras. Her long string of academic and extra-curricular accomplishments won her a sea of scholarships and awards at her graduation from MHHS.

“There was not one thing she didn’t tackle,” her mom said.

Her daughter, Darla said, knew what she wanted, and how to debate until she got it. When asked what position she’d like in a company, she answered “CEO” without hesitation. Studying to be a divorce attorney, Kaitlyn wanted to attend Columbia Law School, her mother said.

“She was good at debate — she would have made a good attorney. And she was right most of the time,” her father said.

But for all her drive and ambition, Kaitlyn embraced time with her friends, enjoying time at East End spots including the Pridwin Hotel and Sunset on Shelter Island, Rhumba in Hampton Bays — and her favorite restaurant, Legends in New Suffolk, where she adored Mike’s calamari. And she lived well — when she wanted a bag, she didn’t blink if it cost $400 or $600. She bought it, with money she’d earned herself, her parents said.

Kaitlyn, her parents said, loved boating, shopping, country western music, and getting her nails done — and was thrilled with her car, a white Dodge Charger with the license plate L-Blonde, after the movie that so many said reminded them of her life.

Their daughter, they said, was a dedicated and hard worker who reveled in her responsibilities, balancing three jobs at A Lure, A Mano, and Michael Kors — and she’d just landed a job in the mailroom at school for the coming semester.

Even as a little girl, Kaitlyn favored not dolls or animated films, but, instead, memorized the score of “Annie”; her favorite character was Daddy Warbucks, her mother said.

“She used to ask me why I would make her watch a purple dinosaur,” her mother. “At two years old, the wheels were already turning. Kaitlyn was an old soul.”

Kaitlyn and her father, Darla said, shared an extraordinary bond. “I always say I held her in my stomach but he gave birth to her.”

And, she added, Carly and Kaitlyn shared a deep sisterhood; Carly idolized Kaitlyn. “She was the mother,” Darla laughed.

Carly, looking at photo of the two sisters walking through a pumpkin patch on Kaitlyn’s Instagram account, noted that her sister had labeled the shot “Best Friends.”

“Who else comes home from college to go pumpkin picking with their sister?” Darla asked.

Kaitlyn, she said, embraced sorority life, laughing at the four Bs: “No boys, booze, bars, or biddies,” she said.

But the true mantra by which she lived her life, “”Live well, Laugh often, Love much” is stenciled on the wall above Kaitlyn’s bed.

In fact, her mother said, Kaitlyn was a happy, kind girl who rarely got upset, unless something affected her family, whom she adored.

In her memory, both Kaitlyn’s father and her sister are planning on tattoos. Carly’s will be of her sister’s last heartbeat, leading into her name.

For years, her mother said, she protested against her daughters getting tattoos or, in Kaitlyn’s case, a belly ring.

But as Kaitlyn got older, she taught her mother life lessons. “She’d come home at 11 p.m. with a gourmet pizza. I told her I didn’t eat carbs that late. She’d say, ‘Why not?'”

And now, “after all that’s happened” the idea of a tattoo or belly ring seems insignificant, Darla said.

Their daughter, Joe and Darla said, loved the finest things, driving Joe’s Jaguar to school and even convincing school officials to give her a prime spot.

But when she got voted “best car” Kaitlyn showed up, not in the Jag, but in an old truck, a reflection of her wit and pragmatic nature. “Did they think I’d have an $80,000 car?” her mother said she asked.

Smiling, she said, “She left her mark.”

Her daughter, Darla said, will be buried at Sacred Heart, after attending Sacred Heart parish and going to college at SHU. “A trifecta,” she said.

Eyes filled with tears, she added, “I hope no other parent ever has to go through this.”

From their greatest loss, Kaitlyn’s family focused on new life: They donated her organs. That’s the reason, Darla said, that there was some confusion as to whether or not her daughter had passed away. She’d been kept on life support because of the organ donation, she said.

It was Carly, the Doorhys said, who convinced them to donate her sister’s organs. “We learned that Kaitlyn would have the opportunity to save eight to 10 lives,” her father said. “Carly told us we had to do it. It’s what Kaitlyn would have wanted.”

As they gathered up photographs, planned the program for their daughter’s service, and organized the service, text and calls continued to come in, with visitors at the door — and Kaitlyn’s heartbroken parents said it helped to stay busy.

It’s when everyone goes home, Darla said, that the tears fall. “It’s too quiet. I’ll never hear her coming in again, banging the door and making the glass shake,” she said. “I used to call her my bull in a china closet.”

But a loving community has stepped up to make sure the Doorhys are never alone in their grief, even setting up a tent outside their home where friends can gather.

“There are no words to express the love the community has shown for Kaitlyn and our family,” Joe Doohry said.

Friends and neighbors have been coming round the clock, with fellow Lions staying overnight, he said. “They’re another family,” he said.

Life with their daughter, Kaitlyn’s parents agreed, was never dull.

“Every day was an adventure,” Darla said. But no matter where she traveled or what new challenge she’d undertaken, “Kaitlyn always called, every night, to say ‘I love you,'” she said.

Thankful that he retired from his career as a police officer while his girls were young, Joe Doorhy said he cherishes memories of making paninis for the girls and their friends after school. Laughing, he recalled the time Kaitlyn, painting a vase for a contest at work, got a big blue spot on his pristine driveway pavement. At the time, he wondered why she hadn’t used newspaper. Now, he said, he’ll paint a new blue mark in that spot every year, to remember his beautiful girl.

“Our time with her was too short,” he said, through tears.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” her mother said, gathering a basket of pink wristbands to hand out at the funeral. On the bracelets are the words by which their beloved daughter lived her life, and for which she will always be remembered: “Keep smiling, beautiful”.

Funeral services for Doorhy will take place today from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m at the DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Homes, Inc., located at 13805 Main Road, Mattituck, N.Y. 11952. Liturgy of Christian Burial will take place on Friday at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church, opposite the funeral home. Interment will follow at Sacred Heart R.C. Cemetery in Cutchogue.

Kaitlyn Doorhy’s family requests that guests please wear bright, festive clothing to celebrate her life.