Mrs. Dorothy Stumpe was my 7th and 8th grade home ec. teacher.
Most of us very intelligent teenagers thought she was a bit odd. She would spot sayings like ‘waste not, want not’ many times while teaching us to cook and sew. She also used phrases like ‘scissor wizzers’ and ‘pinny winnies.’ Being the smart child I thought she was funny and old fashioned and knew nothing.
I was wrong. I wish I had been able to apologize for some of my actions in her class. One day I refused to answer her because she called me Deann instead of Diana–that got me sent to the hall with a book. (yeah, ironic since I love to read so it wasn’t a big punishment.) Then there was the day I refused to eat bulger wheat–that got me sent to the principal. Turns out that wasn’t a bad thing for me to do since I’m allergic to wheat.
Still as I read her obit I wished I had taken to the time to really know her. She was an amazing woman.
Mrs. Stumpe had been an environmentalist for most of her 93 years. At 15 she created a windbreak, by relocating invasive cedar saplings from a cemetery to the north side of her family’s farm, which is credited for saving that farm from a tornado.
During the Depression in 1933, she was the first woman to ever receive the American Grand Championship for her calf at the American Royal. Selling the calf for “an unheard of price of $1/lb.” she bought a college education and a gold watch now on display at the Richmond, Kan., Museum.
Mrs. Stumpe started the Washington 4-H Club for her children in 1960. She was a club leader and/or project leader for over 50 years.
Her youth work focused on herbs, knitting, crocheting, sewing, cooking, electricity, crafts, home improvement, conservation and community service.
For community betterment, she was servant, steward and leader. Organizations included the Professional Home Economics Club of Franklin County; co-chairman of the Home Economics Department at the Washington Town and Country Fair (1960-1985); president of Washington Preservation, Inc. (where she helped restore the freight depot, Kohmueller homestead, hosted a living history day with re-enactors of the Civil War, planted an herb garden and organized annual Christmas house tours); and president for three years of the American Association of University Women.
In addition, she belonged to Immanuel Lutheran Church since 1944 and its church organizations, where she is known for her presentations on “Herbs of the Bible,” “Women’s Veils” and “The Life of Martin Luther.”
And there is more about her here.
Yes, I could have used more of her wisdom. Now, I’m looking up how to use herbs, doing my best to waste not so I won’t want not. I would have liked to ask her what it was like to be the first woman to earn championship status. So many lessons unlearned.
I hope not to waste any more opportunities to learn from others.