Dorwan Stoddard Courtesy of Mountain Avenue Church of Christ

It was going to push their breakfast plans later into the morning, but Dorwan "Dory" Stoddard wanted to say thank you to his congresswoman.

Stoddard, a 76-year-old retired construction worker, was enjoying his golden years with his wife, 75-year-old Mavanell "Mavy" Stoddard. The couple had married 15 years ago after both of their spouses passed away. But they'd known each other for nearly a lifetime - they met when they were in the same sixth-grade class in Tucson.

The Stoddards traveled the country in their RV, spent leisurely mornings with their shih tzu, Tux, and were deeply committed to their faith. They attended the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ in central Tucson, where Dory was known as "Mr. Fixit."

Dory favored bolo ties, jeans, and sometimes cowboy boots. He typically wore a shirt to complement whatever his wife was wearing.

Mavy was always feminine - one of her daughters describes her style as "prissy and put-together." She liked her husband's clothes to coordinate with hers. Sometimes even match. They were a team.

Many thought of Dory as the lifeblood of his church - he was there several times a week, doing odd jobs and comforting people who had lost homes and jobs in the recession. Friends described him as a teddy bear of a man for his sweet nature.

While raising his four boys with his first wife, Arlene, during the 1970s in Ash Springs, Nev., Dory opened a hot dog stand called "Stod's" that quickly expanded into a convenience store, gas station and café. What made Dory most proud of Stod's was that it provided jobs for local residents. He would hire his employees' relatives, too, if they needed work.

About a year after Arlene died in 1995, Dory reunited with Mavy, his childhood sweetheart. They wed in a Las Vegas chapel in a ceremony attended by their large extended family. The couple stayed at the Imperial Palace on the Las Vegas strip.

At about 9:45 last Saturday morning, Dory and Mavy planned breakfast at a nearby Coco's but first stopped at the Safeway that's just blocks from their northwest-side home.

The couple wanted to thank U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords for listening to ranchers on the border. They were impressed with the way she reached out after the shooting last March of longtime rancher Robert Krentz, who may have been killed by a smuggler near the Arizona-Mexico border during a time when Arizona was debating the immigration bill SB 1070.

Dory was a fourth generation Arizonan from a ranching family that goes back several generations. Mavy moved to Tucson with her family when she was 10. They were proud of their roots - and proud of their Arizona congresswoman for bringing more national attention to border issues.

"Gabby was trying to make a difference, and they wanted to say thank you to her for listening," said Mavy's daughter, Angela Robinson-Hellwege.

The couple were seventh in line to see the congresswoman when gunfire erupted.

In what would turn out to be his final act of love for his wife, Dory pushed Mavy to the ground and covered her body with his own.

Dory had avoided death before. Over the years he'd had about 17 stents in his heart. And he'd recently survived a fall off a ladder while he was building a children's room at his church called "Dory's Room." Church members prayed for his life.

But this time, Dory had been shot in the head.

Mavy, who was shot in the leg, held onto her husband and spoke to him as he took his last breaths.

"She is heartbroken," Robinson-Hellwege said of her mother, who has been released from University Medical Center. "But he died for her, so she wants to live for him."

Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at or 573-4134.