The Ardent Writer Press
DOROTHY DIEMER HENDRY
(1918 – 2006)
FROM THE EDITOR:
I was sure what to say about my mother-in-law, Dorothy Diemer Hendry, but I wasn’t sure how to say it. This tribute page is not about Dorothy being my wife’s mother, nor is it homage to my wife. I wanted to capture motivation that comes from the heart.
I didn’t know Dorothy long. I met my wife, Bonny, in 2000. We dated for four years before marrying. From the first time I met Dorothy, until the day she died in March 2006, she always treated me as one of her own. Her kindness and empathy were palatial but not pretentious.
Dorothy did a lot in her life. Her father, George Diemer, was a university president who knew Harry Truman. George was a big influence in Dorothy’s tilt toward education, but he influenced all of his children. Each was a classical musician, Dorothy’s sister, Emma Lou Diemer, becoming a world-renowned composer of classical music and professor of music at University of California Santa Barbara while Dorothy’s specialty was the flute. Her twin brothers were also successful though one, George Jr, did it in a tragic manner, dying for his country as a Marine Corps pilot during WWII while the other, John, became a teacher and principal.
Emma may be in Wikipedia, but Dorothy’s accomplishments were also grand. She won three city wide essay contests in Kansas City as a teenager. She was valedictorian of her college graduating class ( and later conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree by the university in 1999). She received a Master’s Degree from Columbia. However, before teaching she was also a stewardess (the airlines called them hostesses then) with the now defunct Trans World Airlines or TWA and was Chief Hostess for Mid-Continent Airlines. This was in the early 1940s during WWII. That job led her to Captain Wickliffe Hendry whom she married on Christmas Day, 1944. She was quite busy and stayed that way, creating lasting impressions and friendships, even if you did not know her that long.
So really, I wasn’t that special. That’s not a slight on Dorothy because I was never just her son-in-law. You see, she was like that with everyone, especially to her students at Huntsville High. As teenagers, they may not have let her know how special she made them feel. Teenagers often have difficulty with authority figures, even when they try to help. But as adults, many have come from the shadows to voice her praise.
I can’t count the times I have mentioned her name in a group, only to result in it prompting someone, even strangers, to tell me of how she influenced their life. Will Rogers may have said “I never met a man I didn’t like”, but Dorothy was his female twin. I recently had a successful scientist, now retired, tell me that though he dropped out of Huntsville High School, where Dorothy was the Head of the English Department for many years, one of the reasons he returned and went on to college and a long career in consulting and research was Dorothy. He now wants to write in retirement. Why? Because she had faith in him when he needed it most, pulling a crumpled set of papers from the trashcan where he had thrown them in disgust and returning them to him with encouragement, that his words reflected promise that should not be discarded.
So yes, Dorothy was many things, not to mention being a wife, mom and homemaker. She and Wick had three daughters, my Bonny, Betty (Augsburger), and Terri (Sims) and a son, Alan. Dorothy served many groups, not just the usual, but as a Rosarian (growing over 300 varieties of roses), a novelist (See the link to Looking for Jencey on this webpage), poet, and lyricist for many of her sister’s musical works, both religious and secular.
But mostly, Dorothy was a role model. She did it with love. She did it in a manner that did not draw attention to herself but to the one she served at that moment. She did it with humility. Thank you, Dorothy. And many more out there say the same.
Looking For Jencey is at: dorothydiemerhendrypoet.com
Burnished Pebbles is at: http://www.amazon.com/Burnished-Pebbles-Poems-Love-Death
Photos and Testimonials
Dorothy Diemer Hendry, author of Looking For Jencey: The Life of Lizzie Elnora Murphy Casebolt (Dorothy’s Grandmother).
Dorothy’s poetry has appeared in Poem, The Alabama Anthology of Poetry, Columbia Poetry, and Poet’s Choice, a Huntsville, Alabama, poetry group project.
Also published by iUniverse is a collection of Dorothy Diemer Hendry’s poetry: BURNISHED PEBBLES, Poems of Love, Death, and Life.
Dorothy edited teacher’s manuals for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, was a member of the National League of American Pen Women, the Huntsville Botanical Gardens, the Huntsville Museum of Art, Friends of the Library, and the National and Alabama Councils of Teachers of English as well as other groups too numerous to mention.