Dorothy Anderson

One Special Lady

Dorothy Holmes Anderson was eight when her mother's sister died and left her $300, a large sum of money in 1928. The inheritance, which her mother invested, enabled Dorothy to pay Kent State's yearly college tuition ($50) and cover all her room and board expenses ($7 a week).

After graduating in 1938, Dorothy began her teaching career in Maple Heights, Ohio. Miss Holmes wanted to teach five-year-olds but was given eight-year-old second graders instead. The following year she was assigned a flock of first graders whom she taught through second grade. It wasn't until the following year that she finally got her heart's desire, a bevy of energetic, curious kindergartners.

With one assistant, Dorothy taught 50 kindergartners in the morning and another set of 50 in the afternoon, all of which took place in a classroom on the second floor of a junior high school. Because Dorothy did such a great job, she was given an additional 30 students for each session the following year, which meant she was responsible for 160 kindergartners five days a week. Plus, she had to reserve energy for playground, cafeteria and bus duty, all of which she did without a scheduled break.

When she transferred to Ridgebrook Elementary School in Parma, Ohio, circumstances improved. "I had a great assignment. I was given a classroom with a workroom and storage space, as well as a lavatory and only 45 students," Dorothy laughed.

Dorothy received her master's degree from Case Western Reserve, but her goal was not to become an administrator. The classroom was her chosen domain, however, when the superintendent asked her to be the principal's aid at a new building, she took on administrative responsibilities on top of teaching primary art classes. Dorothy effectively managed the school day for 750 children even though the building did not yet have a cafeteria or a gymnasium.

Surprisingly, Dorothy admitted, "I did not read a book until seventh grade. I was scared of the teacher. I had to read things two or three times to get the meaning." Dorothy discovered many years later that the reason for her trouble was some new-fangled reading disorder called dyslexia.

Dorothy was exposed to learning disabilities in 1968 when she attended the first-of-its-kind national learning disabilities conference in Washington, DC. A couple years later, she was asked to take over a class of fourteen visually handicapped students when it was discovered the teacher didn't know Braille. Dorothy Holmes also found time to be an instructor at Parma's Community night school. She taught social dancing, cake decorating, and upholstery.

Nowadays, when she's not busy playing bridge or mahjong, or visiting friends at nearby Fraser Health Center, Dorothy's big job is serving as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Seabrook. She is the first woman elected to the position in 25 years. Her calendar is (and always has been) filled with committee meetings and events for the local chapters of the AAUW, Women's Association of Hilton Head Island and League of Women Voters.

Niece Susan Rose is Dorothy's closest, most cherished family member. Using pushpins on a small world map, Susan made an impressive display highlighting Dorothy's extensive travels called "Where in the World is Aunt Dorothy?" Susan took care of the arrangements of Dorothy's wedding to Alfred Anderson in 1996. She also organized Dorothy's 90th birthday celebration held at The Seabrook this past May.

An active islander and well-loved transportation volunteer for the Heritage tournament for more than ten years, Dorothy didn't want to move from Sea Pines to The Seabrook, but Alfred convinced her otherwise. "One of my regrets is not moving sooner," Dorothy said of her retirement home. She not only loves not cooking, the food and friends are fantastic.

Up Close

Started Teaching: 1942, yearly salary, $1050
Years in Education:  36
Hobbies: Traveling, collecting elephants, gardening
Crafts: "Been there done them all, including stamping."
Married: Childhood sweetheart, Alfred Anderson,
met at age 6 and married him 70 years later