Charlotte Anita Dortch Spires was born in Farmville, Virginia on July 18th, 1958 to parents Charles William and Pinkie Goode Dortch, along with her twin brother Charles Dortch, Jr. She was raised in South Hill and Mecklenburg County, VA. She was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Union Level, VA. From her early childhood, Charlotte only wanted to be a veterinarian. She stayed with and achieved that goal. She attended John Groom Elementary, and after desegregation, South Hill and Buckhorn Elementary schools. She graduated from Parkview High School in South Hill, VA in 1976, and then enrolled at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, where she earned both a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. Most importantly, at Tuskegee Institute, she gave her life to Christ in 1982. At her passing, she was a member of Encounter Life Church in Hillcrest Heights, Maryland, as well as a board member for the Caribbean Connect Global Missionary Network. She also applied her musical talents as a founding member of the Instruments of Praise, playing the flute. She had a lifelong passion for memorizing scripture, including Psalms 145-150 and Romans 8. In her professional career, Dr. Spires excelled in her career at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services. She received her commission into the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) in 1995, rising to the rank of Captain (O-6). She earned a Masters in Public Health in epidemiology from The Johns Hopkins University in 1998, and was a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. As a USPHS commissioned officer, she was part of a team of veterinarians who were deployed for animal rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which was the largest animal rescue effort in the world, as well as deployments for Hurricanes Rita, Ike and Harvey. Based on her expertise in animal rescue, she developed federal guidance for the management of companion animals of hurricane evacuees. For that effort, she received the USPHS Commendation Medal and was also chosen as the 2009 USPHS Veterinary Responder of the Year. She also received the James H. Steele One Health Outstanding Public Health Service Veterinary Career Award in 2017. Throughout her career, she received numerous other medals and awards, including two Crisis Response Service Awards for her hurricane relief work, a Presidential Unit Citation for her role in Ebola response, and an Army Achievement Medal. At her retirement in 2018, Dr. Spires was the Chief Veterinarian for the National Veterinary Response Team. Previously, she was the Executive Director of the National Biodefense Science Board, a past president of the DC chapter of the PHS Commissioned Officer Association, Director of the Commissioned Officers Association Board of Directors, and Vice President of the DELMARVA-DC Tuskegee Veterinary Medical Alumni Association. She also practiced relief veterinary medicine in several clinics and hospitals throughout Maryland and Virginia, including military veterinary clinics. She served as an adjunct faculty member at the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, where she lectured to students on veterinary and public health preparedness and response. After a long battle with cancer, Dr. Spires went to be with the Lord on May 24, 2021 at the age of 62. She was predeceased by her parents Charles and Pinkie Dortch. She leaves behind her husband of 37 years Darrell, her loving children Jessica and Nelson, her twin brother Judge Charles Dortch, Jr. (Doris), her nephew Charles Zachary Dortch, her uncle Wilson Dortch, her aunt Ruth Goode, and many other loving relatives and friends. She was an active member of her family organization, The House of Ogburn. The family wishes to thank Sister Sharon Samuels, along with the staffs of the John P. Murtha Cancer Center of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Drs. Zeman, Zimmerman, and Lipkowitz) and Amedisys Home Health Care (Cecilia, Tammi, Rebecca, and Keyonna) for their loving care and treatment. The family especially thanks David and Chebby Jean-Julian for their outstanding ministry to our family in our time of need. The CAPT (ret.) Charlotte Dortch Spires, DVM, MPH, DACVPM Endowed Scholarship has been established at Tuskegee University to support veterinary medical students in the College of Veterinary Medicine pursuing nonclinical veterinary careers, and the family requests donations to this scholarship in lieu of flowers. Donations can be made by calling the office at 334-727-8540 or at http://www.tuskegee.edu/give. Please reference the scholarship name under designation.
Services for Dr. Spires will take place at Encounter Life Church (2200 Culbera Drive, Hillcrest Heights, MD 20748) on June 5th, with viewing beginning at 11 AM followed by a celebration of her life at noon. Masks are required for this service and COVID-19 vaccinations are strongly requested. The celebration will be streamed live at https://encounterlifedmv.online.church/. Expressions of love and condolence can be sent to 501 Troon Circle, Fort Washington, MD 20744. Charlotte's final resting place will be St. Paul's Episcopal Church Cemetery (452 Skyline Road, South Hill, VA), where a brief graveside ceremony will be held on June 6th at 2 pm.
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