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More in Obituaries
Dorothy G. Swain
FLORENCE, MA – Dorothy G. Swain, 92, of Kimball Street, died suddenly Thursday, February 17, 2011, at home.
Dot was born in Hampton Falls, NH on June 30, 1918, daughter of the late Mildred (Brown) and Roscoe Swain. She attended schools in Hampton Falls and at nearby Hampton Academy. At the age of 17 she went off to Gordon College of Theology and Missions in Boston to fulfill her dedication to fulltime Christian service. She received an A.B. degree in Theology from Gordon and continued on to major in Education at Boston University Graduate School, earning an M.A. degree.
A long career in teaching and religious education began in New Salem, MA, grades 5 – 8 in a one-room setting. This was followed by two years as Director of Young People’s Work at Winchester (MA) Baptist Church, followed by a move to Northampton to become Director of the newly-organized Pioneer Valley Council for Weekday Religious Education (PVCWRE). As an itinerant religious ed. teacher, Dot was associated with this interdenominational Council for twenty-five years. This PVCWRE was a highly-recognized part of the National Weekday Religious Education movement, and she became actively involved at the National Committee level.
Released time (WRE) education classes were so novel that the Massachusetts Council of Churches needed appropriate curriculum for all its classes statewide and she was commissioned to write several courses. Soon Dot was writing manuals for Sunday and Vacation Church Schools, and, for a short time, joined the editorial staff of the American Baptist Publication Society in Philadelphia, becoming editor of two junior high publications. In 1964 she wrote a widely-used book of leadership training for laypersons in Christian Education, Teach Me to Teach, published by Judson Press.
In the meantime there was a camping chapter in Dot’s life, lasting nine years. She held administrative positions at Camp Ataloa, a Baptist Girls’ camp at Ocean Park, Maine, as well as summer camps in Kansas and Lake Louise, Michigan, and at Camp Anderson nearby. As a camp director she was associated with Green Lake, the American Baptist Conference Center in Wisconsin. When the released time programs ended in 1969, Dot began teaching in Chesterfield, MA in Grade 6, going on to teach language arts and social studies there for 17 years. Many of the children she taught have stayed in touch, and she would often run into and greet people in the area who were well-remembered students, parents, or associates during her lengthy and productive career.
As a member of the Northampton First Baptist Church, Dot was part of the blending with the First Church of Christ (UCC) that became First Churches. She served on many committees, which included the Board of Deacons, Memorial Committee, Pastoral Advisory Committee, and the Church Council, and in fact attended a Council meeting the night before she died. She was also a member of the church’s Dorcas Society and played in the bell choir.
She was a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, a professional honorary Society of women educators, and served as Secretary of the Tuesday Afternoon Club of Easthampton, a one hundred-year-old women’s society with literary roots. She was a mentor, guide, and inspiration to many.
Dot’s active and inquisitive mind, fed by a love of reading and cross-word puzzles, kept her up-to-date with all that was current. She was well-known among her family and friends for her poetry and written commentary on daily life, and for her artwork, particularly her meticulous pencil sketches of churches, homes and pets. An historian at heart, she had a great memory for details, as well as a penchant for making and preserving friendship. Family ties were very important to Dot and she had a special relationship with her niece Jan, with whom she shared a cross-country train trip to Portland OR in 2005.
She will be missed by many, especially by her beloved house mate, Beatrice V. Fitts, with whom she shared fifty years filled with countless friends, trips, and summers in Waterford, ME. She is survived by two nieces, Janice Jassmond of Exeter, NH and Judith Huss of Alton, NH; two nephews, Stephen Marston of Exeter, NH and John Swain of Hampton Falls, NH; and several great nieces and nephews and great great nieces and nephews as well. Dot was preceded in death by her sister Pearl Marston and her brother Kenneth Swain.
A memorial service was held on Saturday, February 26, at First Churches, 129 Main Street, Northampton MA.