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Dorothy Hope Frantz Stafford: 1916-2013

October 18, 2013

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    Dorothy Hope Frantz Stafford
By Doug Erickson

Dorothy Hope Frantz Stafford, a member of the Lewis & Clark community for more than 60 years, has passed away at the age of 97. A memorial service is planned for November 3.

Starting with her husband William Stafford’s appointment to the English department in 1947, Dorothy’s presence on Palatine Hill contributed to the positive evolution of the college over the last half-century. Dorothy was a friend to Lewis & Clark’s administration, trustees, faculty, and staff. She also taught many of the children of these families as an elementary school teacher. Dorothy’s and Bill’s daughters Kit ’75 and Barbara ’79 both graduated from Lewis & Clark, and their son Kim has been a member of the Graduate School of Education faculty since 1979, founder of the Northwest Writing Institute,  and literary executor of the Estate of William Stafford.

Dorothy was born in 1916 in a farmhouse near Pickerell, Nebraska, to Charlotte and Harrison Frantz. In the 1920s the Frantz family moved to Glendale, California, where Harrison took a position as a Church of the Brethren minister. Dorothy attended and graduated from La Verne College in the early 1940’s with a bachelor’s degree in Education. During World War II, Dorothy met her future husband, William Stafford, while visiting a camp for conscientious objectors near Santa Barbara, California. Dorothy and Bill immediately connected over their love of literature, in particular the writings of fellow Midwesterner Willa Cather. Dorothy and Bill were married in 1943, and after the war, the couple moved to Portland, where Bill took a position teaching English at Lewis & Clark.

After departing Portland in the 1950s, while Bill studied for a Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, the Staffords returned to Lewis & Clark in 1957, settling permanently in Portland. In addition to raising four children: Bret, Kim, Kit, and Barbara, Dorothy worked as an elementary school teacher in the Lake Oswego School District, where she taught for more than four decades. Dorothy was a lifelong learner, who took continuing education courses at Portland State University, and she was an active part of Oregon’s artistic and literary community. Always the charming ambassador, Dorothy carried herself with grace, wit, and compassion. She traveled abroad with her husband to all areas of the earth in his role as Poet Laureate of Oregon and Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress, and all the major universities and urban centers of North America as a representative of Lewis & Clark College.

In 2008, Dorothy was instrumental in the generous donation of the William Stafford collection to Lewis & Clark. The archive represents the literary life of one of the most influential American poets of the last half of the 20th century. The richness that it adds to the academic experience of Lewis & Clark students, who use the archive for research and creative purposes, as well as scholars of Stafford cannot be measured.

Dorothy was always quick to laugh, and had a smart and funny joke for most occasions. Her smile and vivaciousness were contagious. She always was the light in the room. All who knew her will miss Dorothy Stafford.

In recognition of her many contributions to Lewis & Clark, the College awarded her an honorary degree at Commencement last spring.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, November 3, at 3 p.m. in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel, with a reception to follow.

Doug Erickson is Head of Special Collections and the William Stafford Archives at Lewis & Clark. He has been a friend of the Stafford family for more than 20 years.