Dorothy Irene Dukes Gerber

Honored by:Dorothy Gerber
Brick location:G:29  map

Dorothy Dukes was born at home on November 21, 1934. She joined a nearly-grown family as the sixth child with three older sisters and two older brothers. Her nearest brother was nearly nine years older. Three years later another sister was born. A year-and-a-half after that identical twin sisters were born all home deliveries. The mother was now 41 years old and about to raise a "second family".

As the oldest of the second bunch Dorothy soon became the ringleader. Her way in school was paved by having a popular older brother. When he graduated in 1944 and enlisted in the paratroopers Dorothy took over loving and protecting the three younger sisters. All four were good students with musical ability. Anything Dorothy could do the others would try and found they could do well too. One memorable incident occurred in 1948. Northwestern Ohio is part of the Tornado Alley. During the school day a tornado hit that area. The children of all eight grades were herded into the basement with the "big kids" charged with keeping the little ones calm. There had been a play performed recently. Dorothy had had a role that used a borrowed hat as part of her costume. She decided she had to go back upstairs and rescue that upside-down flowerpot hat so she could return it. Without telling anyone she ran upstairs and got the hat. As she crossed in front of the huge eight-paned windows each window crashed in behind her. She wasn't even touched by flying glass. She stopped long enough to notice two boys who had been sent out to the school-bus barn with a message. As they started to leave the barn the brick chimney started tumbling down. The boys scrambled under a nearby upturned cast-iron wheel- barrow as bricks tumbled all around them. When Dorothy returned to the basement with the hat she reported what she had seen. As the storm quickly moved on the boys were soon rescued unharmed.

Dorothy met the guy she would marry when both were eighth-graders. They couldn't date until the guy was old enough to drive but she had picked him as her choice. Dan Gerber never dated anyone else. Her parents knew she was serious when she hand-shovelled snow from the entire farm lane so Dan could drive up to pick her up for their first date. By the time they returned home the lane was drifted shut again. Without any boots Dan walked Dorothy up the lane to her door. That convinced her parents he was serious too.

They raised three children. The two oldest boys Bill and Jim were born in Findlay, Ohio. The only daughter Karen was born in Roswell, New Mexico while Dan served his military service. The family moved to Ames in 1960. All three children attended colleges in Iowa. Dan died unexpectedly at the age of 53 while on a business trip for Hach Company in Kathmandu, Nepal. Dorothy still maintains the family home in Ames with frequent trips to visit her three grandchildren in California.