Dorothy was born of immigrant parents, both of whom came to America from Germany. She was the oldest of three girls; both of her sisters survive her. Growing up in New York, she obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Physical Science from Hunter College in New York. When she began teaching at Sahuaro, she found they needed an Earth Science teacher. In Dorothy’s typically thorough way, she went back to school, to the University of Arizona, brushed up on that subject and received another Master’s degree in Earth Science.
Dorothy’s qualities as a teacher soon made her a valuable member of the Science Department, then headed by Ken Torgerson. Dorothy and Ken collaborated on a Physical Science manual that
provided individualized programs based on behavioral objectives and process approach. In 1975 Dorothy’s outstanding abilities as a science teacher were recognized statewide when the Arizona Academy of Science named her the Science Teacher of the Year.
In addition to Dorothy’s classroom work, she found time to represent the Sahuaro faculty as the TEA representative, where she was again recognized for her devoted service and exemplary leadership. Another honor that came to Dorothy was her selection to membership in Alpha Delta Kappa Honor Society. Dorothy’s philosophy as a teacher was always student-centered. She would spend any amount of time explaining, first one way, and if that did not bring understanding to the student, then she would try another way. She also had the capacity to reduce complex information down into understandable terms for her students. No amount of time or effort was too much to give a student.
She also combined forces with the Adaptive Education Department to provide a class geared to the needs of students with special challenges. She saw the value in each and every child. After Dorothy retired, she still remained a teacher- just her pupils changed!
She helped found the Sahuaro Speculators, a group of retired women who had worked at Sahuaro, and who wanted to explore the new territory of the world of finance. Dorothy, who was a member of another investment group, got them started, gave them direction, and served as their first Senior Partner.
Dorothy had a powerful intellect, and the drive to learn more. If she did not know the answer to a problem, she would research it until she did, and then pass on her knowledge to others. Besides being intellectual, she had a wonderful wit and was a great raconteur. She loved jokes and would tell them with great relish. An avid movie buff, she and her daughter, Veronica, were frequent patrons at the local movies. Dorothy was a voracious reader. In fact, she read so much that in order to keep track of what she had read, she made an outline of each book and a summary of the characters! Many of Dorothy’s books have been donated to the Sahuaro Library for others to enjoy. She also loved holidays. Her home was renowned in her neighborhood for its marvelous decorations for Halloween and Christmas.
Veronica Engel says of her mother that she was born to be a teacher. Teaching wasn’t something she learned to do, she simply did it — as simply as walking and talking. She enjoyed her students and her fellow teachers, and held them all in the highest regard. Veronica believes that her mother always felt lucky and blessed to know and be associated with so many wonderful people at Sahuaro, and that the school was, for her, not only one of the finest high schools in Tucson, but a school where she could utilize her remarkable gift of teaching.