Dolores Nadine (Cook) Mather (February 3, 1930 – May 11, 2018) was the youngest daughter of Fred and Augusta (Trively) Cook, and born near Malvern, IA. Her first years of education were in a one-room country school; she graduated from high school in Shenandoah. She held part-time jobs all during high school — a live-in baby sitter, a clerk at Shenandoah’s Earl May Company — and still had time to work on the school newspaper, play in the band (coronet), and earn the high grades that led to being named Salutatorian of her senior class.
Dolores wanted to be a nurse, but a scholarship to Northwest Missouri State Teachers’ College changed her direction, and by 1948, with a one-year Teaching Certificate, she was employed at the elementary school in Sidney, Iowa. One of the school bus drivers was a young man named Floyd Mather — they married in 1949, and daughter Marcia was born in 1950.
Dolores eventually completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Education (thanks to summer school sessions), and continued teaching in Sidney, then in Waverly and Lincoln, Nebraska. She earned a Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Nebraska, and completed the coursework for a Doctorate — she chose to not complete the higher degree because it would essentially force her out of the classroom and into administration, and she loved working with children too much to take that path.
Teaching was a passion for Dolores — she truly cared about each of her students, and was extraordinarily good at helping each of them find their strengths and gifts. Many of her former students stayed in touch with her through the years, or reconnected as adults. Further generations of students were impacted by her work in a UNL program called Training Teachers of Teachers, and then as a teacher mentor in the Lincoln Public School System. In 1974, she wrote a chapter for a book about language skills and reading, and was an invited guest at the annual convention of the International Reading Association.
When she finally retired in 1993, Dolores changed direction but didn’t slow down much. She became an active member of the Lincoln Area Retired Teachers Association, and she got involved with a program with the Lincoln Public Libraries, bringing Nebraska authors (some well-known, some just getting started ) to speak to “lunch at the library” events. She spent a year or two as an “ambassador” for AARP. Her new passion, though, was an international visitors program sponsored by the US Department of State, and for nearly 30 years she poured her energy into a local arm of that program called the Mayor’s Committee for International Visitors. As “first contact” she was the point person for arranging itineraries for what was surely thousands of visitors: educators, journalists, educators, and various government “ministers” from Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria, Swaziland, Sweden, Spain, South Korea, Poland, Cambodia, Thailand, Yemen, Bangladesh, Denmark, Germany, Nepal, Indonesia, India, New Zealand, China, Ukraine, the Faroe Islands, Egypt … and more! Dolores arranged for these visitors to meet Nebraska’s Governor and members of our unique one-house legislature; or professors at the University of Nebraska; or election officials at the state and local level; or farmers, if the interest was agriculture. Dolores met many of those visitors when they got off the plane in Lincoln, welcomed many of them into her home for an evening of what was often VERY lively conversation, and very often she was there to see them off when they left on the next leg of their journey.
In 2002, the National Council for International Visitors presented Dolores with the first award honoring one of the founders of the organization. In explaining their choice of Dolores to receive this award, NCIV commended her ability to serve as newsletter editor and to design superb programs to meet the needs of these highly-diverse visitors. In addition, “Her charm and friendly smile always put the visitors at ease in both the meeting room and the living room.”
Dolores was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters (Dorothy Williams and Edna Brown, both of Glenwood, IA), and her husband Floyd. She is survived by daughter Marcia and son-in-law Dan Barkley (Fair Oaks, CA); brother-in-law Lloyd Mather and his wife Chyre (Lincoln, NE); and by much-loved nieces and nephews in Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington.
Funeral services will be Monday, May 14, 2018 at the United Faith Church in Sidney, Iowa with interment to follow in the Sidney Cemetery. There will be no viewing or visitation and a memorial service will be held in Lincoln later in May. Scholarships will be established in her name at the Sidney High School, and through the Lincoln Area Retired Teachers Association.
The Crawford-Marshall Funeral Chapel in Sidney, IA is in charge of arrangements.