August 1, 1922 - January 28, 2017
A funeral will be held at 4:30pm Saturday, January 28th, 2017 at Omega Funeral Services, 223 SE 122nd Ave, Portland, Oregon, 97233.
Dorothy Ellen Masters, known to family members young and old as “Auntie,” passed away peacefully in her own home January 14, 2017, after a life well lived. Dorothy Ellen was born August 1, 1922 in Maryville, Missouri, the daughter of Lester A. Masters and Edna Fern Masters (nee Hilsabeck). She graduated as valedictorian from Maryville High School in 1940.
As a young woman, Girl Scouting played a vital role in Dorothy Ellen’s life and gave her a place to refine her natural leadership abilities. She served as a camp counselor, unit leader, and personnel trainer. In later years, the influence of Girl Scouting continued to resonate with Dorothy Ellen, as she went on to support and promote equity and education for women and girls throughout her life.
Following high school, Dorothy Ellen studied at Northwest Missouri State Teachers College (now Northwest Missouri State University) in Maryville, and received her Bachelor of Education in 1945. Her first teaching job was in Wapato, Washington. She then went on to teach in Centralia, Washington, and in Grants Pass and Ashland, Oregon.
In 1955, Dorothy Ellen set out to further her education at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York, where she earned her Master’s Degree the same year. Diploma in hand, she returned to Ashland to teach at Southern Oregon College, progressing from Instructor to Associate Professor. She considered her time in Ashland to be the highlight of her career. In 1962, she returned to Columbia to earn her Professional Diploma. After a few more years teaching in Ashland, she moved to Portland, where she taught at Marysville Elementary School until her retirement.
“Miss Masters,” as she was known to her students, was the kind of teacher you hope and pray your child will be lucky enough to have even once in a lifetime. Her entire professional life was dedicated to not just educating children, but instilling in them a love of learning and a hunger for knowledge. Working mostly in schools in low-income neighborhoods, teaching was more than her profession: it was her calling. No one will ever know how much of her own money or how many late nights she donated to the children in her charge each school year. Her dedication to literacy was profound: in her classroom, every child received a book for their birthday, one for Christmas, and as many as she could afford to hand out throughout the year. They were often the first books that her students ever owned.
An avid Portland Trail Blazer fan and season-ticket holder since 1977, Dorothy Ellen rarely missed a game. She received much recognition from the team over the years, including a center court presentation honoring her decades of support, and a copy of a commemorative Blazer’s book personally signed and presented to her by team announcer Bill Schonely. Devoted to the end, Dorothy Ellen attended her last game at the age of 94, during the 2016-17 preseason.
With a keen mind through her last days, Dorothy Ellen taught her friends and family invaluable lessons about growing older with grace and dignity. Until just months before her passing, she continued to exercise every morning, attend her monthly Mount Tabor Book Club meetings, and nurture her supportive network of friends. She will be remembered for, among many things, her love of books and learning, her tenacity in the face of challenge, her unwavering dedication to education and equity, her delicious homemade jams, and her awesome sock collection.
Dorothy Ellen is survived by her sister, Clella Mae Hancock; nephew, Dr. Lester A Wilson; niece, Renée Butcher; great-nephews, Kevin and Iain Wilson; great-nieces, Leisha Babayan, Grace John, Olivia Huskey, Laura Huskey, and Emily Huskey; great-great grandnieces, Kyah and Hannah; and great-great grandnephew, Arie.
To honor Dorothy Ellen’s commitment to childhood literacy, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in her name to The Children’s Book Bank (http://www.childrensbookbank.org), which seeks to get books into the hands and homes of low-income children in the Portland area who might not otherwise have books of their own. Donations may also be made to the American Association of University Women (http://www.aauw.org), of which Dorothy Ellen was a longtime supporter.