By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
She had the opportunity to go to college, but she never quit trying to learn.
'Reading's been the way to continue my education,' said Dorothy Boutwell of Temple. 'I've always been fond of learning new things.'
That passion inspired her to join Temple's City Federation of Women's Clubs 61 years ago.
'It didn't matter what you were interested in, the Federation had a group for it,' she said. 'It still does. The old ones died out, and new groups replaced them.'
In her many years of service, Mrs. Boutwell has served on countless committees and held several offices, including the office of president from 1936 to 1964.
'I enjoyed it,' Mrs. Boutwell said. 'I'm quite proud of the Texas Women's Library for the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs.' Creating the library served as Mrs. Boutwell's special project for the term she served as president. The library's in the state clubhouse at Austin. All of its books are by or about Texas women.
She again held the title of president 1968-70, but that time it was for the Capital District of the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs. And 1990-92, it was for the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs.
This makes Mrs. Boutwell the only local Federation woman to have served at all levels of the Federation of Women's Clubs: city, district and state.
For this reason, Mrs. Boutwell's fellow members of the City Federation of Women's Clubs will honor her with a special program on Tuesday.
'Dorothy, she's one of our unsung heroes,' said past president Ilene Miller of Temple. 'She's done so much for our organization.'
She's also an example of strength. She remains a servant committed to her community despite the loss of her husband and only daughter.
'She was 41,' said Dorothy Boutwell, 61, of Temple. 'That was 12 years ago. I buried her the day after Christmas.'
Her husband died 24 years ago, also in December.
She has eight grandchildren, but her son-in-law, stricken with grief, was unable to raise them.
'They're split up coast to coast,' Mrs. Boutwell said. 'We keep in touch.'
She stared at the wall as she spoke, but no tears came.
Her demeanor was admirable. She said nothing of life's unfairness or pain. She only said she was thankful the time she had with the people she loved.
She also said she's grateful for the upcoming City Federation ceremony.
'It's nice of them to want to honor me,' Mrs. Boutwell said.
But for Ouida Dulaney, City Federation president the ceremony isn't a friendly gesture. It's something that Mrs. Boutwell very much deserves.
'She's a good, active, busy member, and she's done everything for us,' Mrs. Dulaney said. 'She's always been an outstanding counselor, helper - everything good that you can think of, she's been to me.'
Mrs. Boutwell didn't want to gloat. She said she's enjoyed all the opportunities the club has offered.
'I've had a lot fun in my club work,' Mrs. Boutwell said. 'I have a lot of nice memories, and I've made precious friends.'
She remembers several City Federation clubs that no longer exist like groups for women's health and homemaking, and she remembers the fun she had at 'Every Woman's Party.'
'Those took place in the 50s and 60s,' Mrs. Boutwell said. 'They were held at the municipal building. It was like a talent show. Women would come to sing and dance. There would be skits. Women from all over Bell County would come and watch.'
Her work via the Federation has earned her several honors.
In 1964, the Temple JCs gave her the Outstanding Citizen Award. And in 1991, while she was president of the Texas Women's Federation, she got the American Mother's Award and a yellow rose from former Texas governor Ann Richards.
'It was a neat time to be installed as president of the Texas Women's Federation,' Mrs. Boutwell said. 'It was 1990, the Federation's centennial. I got to go to New York for the installation.'
In addition to the City Federation, Mrs. Boutwell has also been involved in the AARP, Tempe school PTAs, First Baptist Church, Taylor's Valley Baptist Church and in Girl Scouts.
'I was the leader for the same group of girls from the second grade through the 12th grade,' Mrs. Boutwell said. 'They still keep in touch with me. They treat me like one of their mothers, like they did when they were young. Two or three of them have passed away.'
The subject of death came up again, ugly and uncomfortable.
'But that's life,' Mrs. Boutwell said. 'You don't know who's going to be here the next day, so enjoy them now. That's life.'