Dora Steele (Coker) Young, 78-year-old longtime Seminole resident, was born Jan. 22, 1939, in Claremore to Thomas Coker Sr. and Frances (Walker) Coker.

Dora Steele (Coker) Young, 78-year-old longtime Seminole resident, was born Jan. 22, 1939, in Claremore to Thomas Coker Sr. and Frances (Walker) Coker.

She is a member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma and served as an elected tribal official.

Dora attended secretarial business school in Oklahoma City after graduating from Pleasant Grove School, of which she was a proud alumnus. Following business school, she worked as a secretary in Alaska at Elmendorf Air Force Base. It was there that she met her first husband, Pablo Ortega, who was stationed there. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Puerto Rico, which is where her husband was from, and that is where their first daughter, Ellen Milagros Ortega, was born. Their second daughter, Lina Ortega, was born after they moved to Oklahoma.

Dora continued to work for the federal government for several years. She worked at the BIA office in Shawnee from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s. After serving for a time as a tribal official of the Sac and Fox Nation, she returned to civil service in 1982 to work at Tinker Air Force Base, from which she retired in 1993.

In 1974, Dora was elected as the first woman Principal Chief of the Sac and Fox Tribe in Oklahoma. This achievement also meant that she was the first elected woman chief of any tribe in Oklahoma. One of her proudest accomplishments was that she participated in tribal delegations to Washington, D.C. who worked to resolve land claims owed to the tribe by the U.S. government and to agree upon a fair division of those claims between the three tribes of the Sac and Fox Nation, located in Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas and Nebraska. Dora was also instrumental in establishing a tribal complex in the mid 1970s at the Sac and Fox headquarters south of Stroud. She served the tribe in multiple elected capacities: as a councilperson, as secretary-treasurer, as principal chief again briefly in the mid 1990s, and then was a current member of the Grievance Committee. Her dedication to the tribe never wavered.

Dora was known by her friends and family to be an energetic force of nature and was active in many pursuits. She was interested in family history and faithfully attended and usually helped coordinate annual family reunions. She enjoyed participating in the Pleasant Grove School alumni association as well. Some of her other activities included completing a master gardener’s course, researching tribal history and genealogy, maintaining family cemeteries, and taking care of her many pets.

Dora leaves to cherish her memory two daughters, Ellen Ortega and her husband, Robert Keller of Norman, Lina Ortega and her partner, Troy Shackelford of Shawnee; one brother, Walter Coker and his wife, JoAnn Coker of Shawnee; two sisters, Thelma Coker and Mary F. McCormick, both of Seminole; and longtime friend, Erb Talley of Norman, five nieces, two nephews, and a host of other family and dear friends.

Dora was preceded in death by her parents, Thomas and Frances Coker, by her brother Thomas Coker Jr., by her sister Maxine Trubshaw, and by her grandson, Steven Ortega.

A prayer and remembrance service was held at Swearingen Funeral Home in Seminole Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, at 2 p.m., with Pastor Bill Haley officiating and Walter Coker assisting. Following that service, Dora was taken to the Sac and Fox Community Building south of Stroud, for tribal rites that evening starting at 5:30 p.m.

Graveside services were held at 9 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 28, at the Thomas Coker Family Cemetery located west of Seminole.

Casket bearers were Robert Keller, Jason Coker, John Coker and John Smist.

Services were under the direction of Swearingen Funeral Home in Seminole.