Jacqueline Dorsett Gaskins “Denise”

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. 

 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.