Friday, April 09, 2010

Dorothy Stowe

My mother, Dorothy Stowe, passed away on Wednesday night. She was a remarkable woman throughout her 88 years. As a young woman, she sang on the radio in northern Iowa and Minnesota with two friends. They were urged to go to Nashville where they were assured they would make it big. But mom decided that what she really wanted to do was teach kids.

She became a kindergarten teacher with much of her career being spent at Wakonda Elementary in Omaha, Nebraska. She was helped in her classroom by two puppets, Angel and Tutu. Angel was very shy and would only come out when the children were very quiet. And so, she created a magical, mystical kindergarten experience for many hundreds of children in her kindergarten career. I was always mystified that she could know all the names of up to 30 children in her first day of school, and that she then often remembered their names years later when she saw them grown. I was with her a number of times when large grown up black men came running across parking lots crying "Mrs. Stowe!" to give her a hug. The day of her retirement was celebrated throughout the rather large city of Omaha, Nebraska as "Dorothy Stowe Day," so named by the Mayor of Omaha, and proclaimed above the title of of the Omaha World Herald.

Her inspirational kindergarten teaching techniques were celebrated and admired by other many other teachers and one small example is shown in the photo above captured on the front page of the Omaha World Herald.

My mother was an avid story teller, and my sisters and I heard many, hundreds of stories about her school children as we were growing up. She set a wonderful example for each of us, both in our experiences of her as a young mother, and throughout her teaching career.

At the age of 79, she decided to follow one of her earlier ambitions. In school she had devoted a great deal of creative energy in the design of bulletin boards for her classroom. She also had stories circling in her head, a few lines of which she had written as text. Not wanting to be subjected to possible refusal and editorial control by a major publisher, she set up her own company, Versatale Press. Taking torn paper and words about "Little Bear," she wrote, illustrated and self-published her first book and then 6 more over the next 9 years. Her most recent book was finished and published in the last month and she wondered what she would write about next.

Being a published author led her back into classrooms and school assemblies where she encouraged children to read and write. Whereever she went she carried a bag of books to give to the children she met. Her most recent books were not published to sell, but to give away and encourage children to read...

As I said at the start, Dorothy Stowe was a remarkable woman. My own creativity comes from being her son, and I can hardly begin to describe how much she will be missed.

15 comments:

Steve said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss Doug. She sounds like an extraordinary woman.

Lizard Eater said...

I'm sorry, Doug. What a phenomenal influence to have in your life.

Hugh Poland said...

Doug, I grieve with you at the loss of your mother. What a rich legacy you have been left from her! I will be praying for you and your family over the next many days--may God comfort you with His grace during this time.

Hugh Poland said...

Doug, I grieve with you at the loss of your mother. What a rich legacy you have been left from her! I will be praying for you and your family over the next many days--may God comfort you with His grace during this time.

JD said...

Doug,

You have my deepest sympathy. I know from experience that this is a difficult thing to face. It is good that you can take some solace now from the fact that you inherited from her one of the most important human characteristics--the ability to be creative. JD

Henrique Chaudon said...

Dear Doug:
From NiterĂ³i, RJ, Brazil:
Like JD said, please receive my deepest symphaty.
My grandmother was a teacher too, and her mother. At times that being a children's teacher was the most honourable job.
Yours, Henrique.

Doug Stowe said...

Thank you all for your kind thoughts. Henrique, there is very little in life more honorable than teaching, though it seems that some in our modern age have forgotten it.

Doug Stowe said...

Thank you all for your kind thoughts. Henrique, there is very little in life more honorable than teaching, though it seems that some in our modern age have forgotten it.

cbolyard said...

I am very sorry for your loss. Both of my parents have passed and I know what you are going through. My heart goes out to you and your family. Trust in Christ and He will give you peace in this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

Peace and love to you and your mother. Sounds like she had a great deal of integrity. Sadly lacking it seems sometimes in our world now. I know you will continue her legacy by example Doug

Scrap Wood

Dave Brock said...

Please also accept my regards to you and your family during this difficult time of loss. If you have followed in her footsteps then she most certainly was a remarkable woman.

Anonymous said...

Doug,
I have your books. I read your blog. I love your work. I deeply admire your passion for Wisdom of the Hands.
You have my sympathy in the loss of your mother. I think she will live on through her son.
steve

JimC said...

Doug, I'm so sorry to hear of your mother's passing. She sounds like a very special lady and I'm sure you all miss her greatly. Having been through the loss of both of my parents, the only advice I can offer is that you will always miss them but the grief will lessen with time.

Jim Crockett

Lori Lines said...

I was a student of hers in 1980-1981. She was and will forever be my favorite teacher. She lives on in spirit, mind and education. If it weren't for her being my Kindergarten teacher, I would not be the person I am today! She also was kind enough to send my family one of her first books, as she was such a kind and thoughtful woman. Thoughts and prayers be with the family and friends. Please keep her memory alive. She is LOVED.

Ericka Gillette said...

Doug, I'm crying at this point... My sister and I talk about her in our conversations now. she was our favorite teacher!!! I remember being in her class as if it were yesterday and my sister and I are 34 and 35 years old:)She was love. I came across your blog by looking for the old Myott Park apartments that my mom ,sister and I resided in and I thought to look her up. (our mom passed away in 2003) There wasn't a doubt in my mind that she would be admired in words somewhere on this internet... In happy tears, I now understand that even the most wonderful things can't be forever. Thank you so much for the closure in my heart but never in my memories, God bless your family as he has ours.