Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In Memoriam

Dorothy Toner McClung

This is normally a blog about what I am reading, but I feel compelled today to pay tribute to someone who helped me see the place of reading and writing in having a full life that is intellectually and spiritually vibrant.

I learned last night that Dorothy McClung died a few days ago at her home of complications from Alzheimer's disease. She was 86 years old. Thirty-three years ago she was my second grade teacher. Many teachers, from elementary school through graduate school, have had a major impact on me, but Mrs. McClung was the first. She gave me ideas for books to read, and recommended the first chapter books that I tried. She nudged me to read "Little House on the Prairie," and after that I was off and running. She also encouraged me to write my own stories and put my thoughts into words. I still remember the special little book that she made for me - it had that paper in it that has lines on the bottom half and is blank on the top half so you can draw pictures to accompany your story. I felt like she believed I could write something really important.

As is often the case in small towns, Mrs. McClung continued to be a presence in our lives. She and her husband lived across the alley from us until we moved a few miles away when my sister and I were 12. Mrs. McClung brought chicken salad the day our parents brought our baby brother home from the hospital. She and her husband bought numerous raffle tickets, magazine subscriptions, and candy bars and all the other crazy stuff that school kids sell to make money for their various activities. Even when I was in high school, she would send me a note once in awhile saying she was proud of me. She kept on teaching me long after that 1974-75 school year was over.

Mrs. McClung was a gifted artist in her own right - a wonderful drawer and painter - but I will remember her primarily as a teacher. She did what every teacher should do - treated me like I was an intelligent person whose ideas mattered. There is no way to even guess how many people she influenced, but I know of one for sure.

Rest in peace, Mrs. McClung. You made a difference. I know that God has welcomed you and said "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Reverent Reader


At 4/23/08, 1:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm crying already. You should send this to Dan.


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