Dorothy Anna Banks departed this earth Sept. 23, 2019, in a room overlooking one of her gardens, surrounded by books, and with her family by her side.
She was born Feb. 1, 1934, in Fort Collins, Colo., the oldest of Rose Bauer and Herbert Exum Pingree’s three children. She knew from the first time she entered a schoolroom at age 6 that she wanted to be a teacher.
She met her husband John when they were both students at Colorado A&M College (now Colorado State University); his GPA improved significantly after they started dating. They transferred to Colorado State College of Education (now University of Northern Colorado) for teacher training and graduated in 1956, marrying in December of that year.
Dorothy taught English in Henderson, Nev., and Princess Anne County, Va., while John served in the U.S. Navy. After his discharge from the service they both took teaching jobs in Cody and she spent the next 32 years teaching English at Cody High School, where she established an English elective curriculum and went on to chair the department.
One of her proudest achievements was an all-grades writing assessment program that she implemented just before she retired in 1990.
She called her time at Cody High “one of the very best teaching situations one can imagine,” a result of strong support from the school system and teachers’ union, wonderful mentors, fine colleagues and students she loved. Her deep appreciation for literature inspired her students, and nearly 30 years after her retirement, some them cited her example of embracing challenging books when they protested local book banning.
Dorothy was a working mother in an era where two-earner households were rare, and she faced discrimination from some male colleagues. In fact, she was forced to resign when she became pregnant with her first child. She was able to return to teaching thanks to the support of Winnie Barnhart, who cared for her girls while she worked and was their cherished “second mother.” Winnie’s childcare help allowed her to touch the lives of so many students, and both her children are honored to have shared their mother with – literally – generations of Cody students.
When she and John retired, they moved to Colorado to be closer to family and built a house south of Parker where she indulged her passion for gardening. She and John had separate vegetable gardens because he didn’t meet her stringent vegetable-growing standards.
She participated in a local book group, edited her development’s monthly newsletter as well as writing book-review and garden tips columns for it and was a member of the Bayou Hills Women’s Group.
She is survived by her husband John, who loved her for 65 years and cared tenderly for her during her last months; daughters Nancy (Kevin Gillies) Banks and Jeannie Thomas; grandchildren Madison (Matt Youngberg) Thomas, Rio Thomas, Sean (Ruth Hufbauer) Gillies and Aaron (Russell Jones) Gillies; great-grandchildren Arabelle Gillies and Beatrice Gillies; brother Herbert (Virginia) Pingree; sister Donna Erickson; nieces Robin Arick, Sandra (Matt) Kelly and Shelley Landgren; nephews Dan Pingree, Stephen (Miranda) Pingree, Aaron Erickson; and their families.
She was preceded in death by her son-in-law Burt Feintuch and her brother-in-law Michael Erickson.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Dorothy Banks Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 202643, Denver, CO, 80220, to provide scholarships for Cody High School English students.
A memorial service is planned for July 2020 in Fort Collins, Colo.