By: Cam Low
It is our privilege to introduce you to this month's Client Cameo, the Honorable Dorothy R., a former Colorado State Senator and local leader. We have been shopping and delivering groceries to Dorothy since 2020 and it is an honor to be able to help her since she has served our community and state for many decades with her involvement in education and politics!
Dorothy was born in Meadow Grove, Nebraska and grew up on a farm with her Danish grandfather, mother and two younger brothers after their father left them. It was the height of the depression during Dorothy's childhood and the Midwest was hit hard; there was not enough food for everyone even though they owned their own farm. When Dorothy was eleven years old she and her brothers were sent to live at the Fremont Masonic Eastern Star Home for the Children, where they could receive better care. The purpose of the Children's Home, which is still in existence, is to provide quality care for children who have been separated from their homes due to any situation. They were treated very well at the home and she lived there until she went off to college, which the home helped pay for.
During the end of her junior year of college, she met her future husband, Dick. He had just returned from the war and drove by her and her friends in a car, and he asked if they wanted a ride to the old sand pit. Luck would have it that they started dating exclusively after that! After she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English from Wesleyan University in 1948, they got married in Lincoln. In 1950, after Dick finally finished college after serving in the war, they decided to move to Denver even though they didn't have jobs and she was pregnant with their first child. Once in Denver they were able to live in the basement of a friend from church while they saved money to buy a house. Dorothy worked as a substitute teacher at East High School and Dick did shift time at Rocky Mountain Arsenal and later Rocky Flats. They worked hard and were finally able to get an apartment in Cheeseman Park and eventually saved enough to put $99 down on a house in Thornton. After a few more moves to other cities in Colorado they finally settled in Boulder.
In the 1960s Dorothy worked as an English teacher at Fairview High School, but wanted to become a school counselor so she went to CU to get her Masters in both Psychology and Philosophy. She continued as a teacher at Fairview until 1980 and then worked as a counselor at Boulder High from 1980 to 1986. It was during that time that she became passionate about mental health and teen suicide following the suicide deaths of several Fairview students. Dorothy then became involved in the legislature because she felt there was not enough help and mental health support for teens. This led her to become a local leader and legislator and she served nine years as a House Representative and five years in the Senate. She fought every year for many things including health care for everyone, but that didn’t pass due to her being in the minority party. She worked hard for civil rights for women, minorities, homosexuals and the well-being of children in our state. She overcame many obstacles to achieve a great deal of challenging accomplishments while in office. One that took the longest was getting the legislature to finally outlaw genital mutilation in young girls in Colorado with the national help of 60 Minutes and the power of the press. Dorothy was among the 1000 women nominated by the Women’s League for Peace and Freedom for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. After her term was up, Dorothy taught a core class at the University of Colorado for over a period of eighteen years called Civic Engagement: Using Democracy as a Tool for Positive Change. In 2014, she was the first Caucasian person to receive the Martin Luther King Jr. Trailblazing Award that recognizes pioneers in the civil rights movement in Colorado. Once a year, Dorothy used to quote and dress as Mother Jones, an early labor activist who spoke to the Legislature about the plight of our miners in Colorado. One of Dorothy's favorite quotes from Mother Jones's is “Pray for the dead but work like hell for the living.”
Dorothy has also done a lot of traveling for work and for pleasure. Some of her favorite trips were to China. She has always been fascinated by China and has been there multiple times, with the first being in 1980 right after China opened up again. She says it was amazing to see the changes from the first time she was there and saw women with bound feet, to the second time in 1982. The changes were even more noticeable after visiting there in 1995 for the United Nations Beijing Women's Conference, which had women from 180 different countries in attendance. In addition to those trips she also attended the Peace and Justice International Conference in Bolivia in 1992 and again in 1995 in Helsinki. Dorothy still loves to travel internationally and domestically. Her last trip before Covid was to Boulder’s sister city Dushanbe, and she was able to visit the school for the arts that Boulder helped build in exchange for their tea house. Since Covid, she has been on a few road trips in an electric car to see family and the New Orleans Jazz Festival.
Now that she is retired, she is thoroughly enjoying the life of leisure in her retirement community and says she loves having the choice of only serving on a few select committees after being so dedicated to so many in the past. She has especially enjoyed helping with special events. She loves seeing her two children, three grandchildren and her three great grandchildren who live in Fort Collins, Texas and Louisiana. Dorothy also has a great group of friends who have been celebrating the Fourth of July together for over twenty-five years!
Dorothy says that Cultivate's Carry-Out Caravan is so wonderful because it has many more pieces than just getting food. The kindness from the volunteers and the whole idea of others coming together to mutually support others, is such a gift that Cultivate provides. She also thanks the hard-working shoppers, dedicated delivery drivers and lovely order takers she gets to talk to on a regular basis, for their human kindness to be there and help other people.
We thank you Dorothy, for ALL your committed efforts to make positive change in our society, government, schools and communities. Your curiosity, passion and tenacity has made such an impact on your mark in the world. It is an honor to help serve you. Thank you for all that you've done and still do to fight for equality for all!
About Cam Low:
Cam Low, a Boulder Native, enjoys the outdoors, practicing yoga, listening to live music, and spending time with her friends and family. As an avid Buffs fan, she is a devoted volunteer with the CU Boulder Alumni Chapter and Buffs4Life as well as an Ambassador for the Boulder Chamber. She joined the Cultivate family in March 2020 as a Business Development and Program Specialist. Cam is passionate about helping seniors and eager to introduce Cultivate clients to other people within the Cultivate Community, further encouraging the connection and relationship between clients, volunteers, donors, and staff.
Our wonderful clients are integral members of the Cultivate family! Each month we will feature their stories in Client Cameo. If you are interested or know anyone else who would like to be featured, please contact Cam Low at firstname.lastname@example.org
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