Dorothy Emerson Beck, 87, a retired Whitmer High School teacher who was a widow with three children when she went to college and pursued a career, died Monday in Swan Creek Care Center.
She had been in failing health since breaking an arm on March 1, daughter Judy St. John said.
Mrs. Emerson Beck, formerly of Maumee, retired in 1974 after eight years at Whitmer. She taught creative writing, among other subjects.
"I would say it was her best and proudest time in her life," her daughter said.
Mrs. Emerson Beck was a homemaker who'd done part-time secretarial work for the Toledo Symphony when her first husband, William Emerson, died in 1962. She was a good writer and well-read and decided to enroll in the University of Toledo.
"She was always an honor student in high school and did very well," her daughter said. "Apparently, she had a [college] scholarship offered when she graduated [from high school], but it was during the Depression."
At UT, Mrs. Emerson Beck socialized with classmates, even bowling in a league with them. She invited foreign students to her home. She took French in France and traveled in Europe.
College "was an eye-opening, very life-changing experience," her daughter said. "She had not been very social before. She was a homemaker and had her kaffeeklatsch every day."
But at UT, "she was doing a lot of things she'd never done before in her life," her daughter said.
Mrs. Emerson Beck received her bachelor's degree in 1966.
In 1971, she married William C. Beck.
After she retired, the couple lived for a time in New Mexico. But for about 15 years before that, they spent winters in Arizona and, the rest of the year, hitched their travel trailer to their car and explored the country. She sewed, knitted, and did needlepoint. They took hikes to find rocks, which Mr. Beck polished and made into stone boxes. They took painting lessons at places they'd stay.
Mr. Beck died in 2001.
Mrs. Emerson Beck was born in Denver, but grew up in the Toledo area. She attended DeVilbiss High School and was a graduate of Bryan High School.
She'd been a member of the League of Women Voters and, in the 1940s, served as president for several years, family members said.
Surviving are her son, Mike Emerson; daughters, Judy St. John and Emy Gallagher; stepson, William Beck; stepdaughters, Patricia Ahrendt and Barbara Beck; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
There will be no visitation. Memorial services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow in the Swan Lake Chapel at Toledo Memorial Park. Arrangements are by the Coyle Mortuary.
The family suggests tributes to the Swan Creek Retirement Village Life Care Fund or the Salvation Army.
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