In Memory

Dorothy Kelley (Cowper) - Class Of 1933

Dorothy Kelley (Cowper)

My mother was an extraordinarily diverse person, not at all like other mothers of the 1950s (much to my chagrin--I wanted a mother like all the other mothers in my neighborhood), and no doubt suffered from being born at least 40 years too early for the women's movement.

An artist, she trained at Art Center with a second degree from LA State, an "amateur" archeologist and paleontologist, she was a member of Southern California's first archeological society, ASA, a docent at San Bernardino and SW Museums, an anthropologist, recording the voices and memories of early Native Americans on Southern California reservations.  One of Idyllwild's first cartographers, she would tramp out with her World War II canteen slung on her belt to grid the mountains and deserts, alone but for her trusty rusty VW van parked on some dirt trail.  She was an early art and natural studies teacher at "Isomata" of the '50s (now known as Idyllwild Arts).  She sang in choirs, played recorder with Pasadena Symphony (I remember her practicing Bach late into the night, playing trills over and over...), was an avid low-maintenance gardener, a Camp Fire Girl leader, a doctor's wife who often arrived to a banquet wearing a last-minute-pressed dress, the wrong heels, and garden grime still under her nails.  She was infamous at potlucks for her fast jello--(that's when you add ice cubes to the package at the last minute...), and for taking Idyllwild's mountain curves at 50 mph to make it to the "morning sing," yelling Hang on! to my brother and I, gripping the back seat for dear life.  She had a temper; she was a collector of rocks; as an art student she posed nude; her lithographs were purchased by the Library of Congress.  She kept everything she ever wrote or anyone wrote her (all my angry self-righteous letters delineating the '60s were kept in files by date).  If you read her South Pasadena yearbooks, she was a member of every single club ever formed.  She lived her life as if she would never have enough time to take it all in, and died early one morning regretting she didn't get just one more day here, Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor accompanying her last sigh.

Dorothy suffered a stroke at age 80 and died in October 1995.  She is survived by her children, Susan and Gregory and her grandchildren, Jedidiah, Cody, and Sophia.

Daughter, Susan Cowper Medinger '61