Dorothy Booth Lewis

Honored by:Sherman Lewis
Brick location:F:6  map

She was born a middle child in 1910 in Youngstown, Ohio. She grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and attended Wells College a couple years until the Depression hit. With a library science certificate from Western Reserve, she worked as a librarian in the 1930s. She married Sherman Leland Lewis Jr. and had a son, Sherman Leland III, in 1940 and a daughter, Carolyn Booth, in 1943. She divorced in 1947 and felt bitter about it for the rest of her life but it propelled her into a serious commitment to educate herself and get a good job. She had fallen in love with the mountains on a trip to Colorado with a college friend years before. In 1948 she came, a divorcee with two children, to the Univ. of New Mexico in Albuquerque to make a new life.

She stunned herself by making straight A's; she had not previously realized she was intelligent. With strong support from Florence Shroeder and other faculty, she earned a B.S. in two years and came to Ames for the M.A., also in two years. She and her two children had two wonderful years in Pammel Court near the golf course. I remember a hot, humid summer day when the air would not move with my mom working at a table in the living room on her masters essay. The pages would cling to her forearm when she lifted it up; and I can also hear a portable typewriter clicking away. Carolyn became best friends with Alison Shepherd, and so Dorothy met Eleanor Shepherd and we had several happy visits over several years with the Shepherds on Oakland St., since Eleanor had a way of making every visitor feel personally welcome.

In 1953, Dorothy was hired by Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and taught there until her retirement in 1975. From 1948 to about 1957, the family would take long summer treks by car to the east so the kids could visit with their dad and Dorothy could see her mom and sister Nancy, before the interstates when US 66, the Lincoln Highway and motels had real meaning. Dorothy, from time to time, would try to advance toward the Ph.D. or to write an article, but statistics at UC Berkeley was an unforgettable experience. Her real energy went into her teaching, her kids and a wide and rich circle of friends.

Allen Stokes (naturalist Audubon civic leader) wrote in her obituary, "Dorothy was known for her great concern for the proper upbringing of children. She felt every child should be born into a caring, loving family. She worked to win stricter standards for child care to ensure a healthy, loving environment in child care centers. She devoted countless hours helping others, having been a volunteer at Logan Library, Logan Regional Hospital and in registering hundreds of voters through the League of Women Voters. She was a member of the Audubon Society, Sierra Club and People for Wise Water Planning. She had a great love for mountains, especially those of Logan Canyon. In 1990, she received the Women over 65 Achievement Award from USU's Women's Center for furthering the cause of women. She was a member of the Society of Friends in Logan. . ." She also fervently supported Planned Parenthood. Yes, she was a liberal and a good one.

She wanted her students to think deeply about their own lives, so she required an autobiography related to stages of development. For one student it seemed to much. Gathering her courage and going with a friend, she dropped by the house. Dorothy invited them in for a cup a coffee. No way, said the student. You have to, said Dorothy, and I'll bet you a nickel you can't do it. As it turned out the young woman had been abused and came to terms with it in the paper. Once again with friend she dropped by. The nickel was waiting on the mantelpiece.

Lori Roggman: "I thought a child development class might fill in some of the gaps. Boy, did Dorothy Lewis ever fill in the gaps! She surprised me, inspired me, made me laugh and think and work hard. She didn't seem to mind when I came in late to class. . . but she noticed and fussed over me when I left class early not feeling (or looking) well. During those years when they were still new and radical ideas, she told us that it was important to pick up crying babies, that breast feeding was better than bottle feeding and that all those drugs used for childbirth were not such a good thing. She fed my hippie-girl soul! She made feel like it was OK to think OK to question and best of all OK to be a little different. One day she asked "What is the world like for a 2-year old?' Then she plopped down on the floor and said 'This is what it's like--you see a lot of feet and legs and its kind of dusty down here and I don't think I can reach that doorknob!' . . . I am doing research and teaching now in large part because of Dorothy. After I had taken every classes she taught, I had a good number of the required courses for a major in Child Development. [Years later] I ended a PhD program at the University of Texas. I still thought about Dorothy from time to time and one day I realized that she really should know that she has inspired my career so I wrote her a note and told her so."

In retirement, Dorothy took a few  trips around the world with friends. She always found her soul in the beauty of the mountains. She was an advocate for children, educator of parents, reformer of everything; because she cared. In 1992, the time came for her to go, as she wished, quickly, and with minimum expense. But not time for us to let her go. Her ashes were scattered in the canyon, not far from a favorite picnic spot by the river under the trees.

-Sherman III and others