It’s time to write a new story about my family, especially about my mother.
If Dorothy Sirkel Dupree had lived during the Westward expansion, her story would be included with the heroes of the West because of her brave, pioneering spirit. Determined to make a better life for herself and for her family, Dorothy was fearless in self-learning new skills. Her sophomore year in high school, she left her family home out in the country and moved into town with the family of the Superintendent of Schools, trading baby-sitting services (their son’s name was Paul) for room and board so she could devote more attention to her studies.
She played in a man’s world before the ERA made that popular — how many moms own a chain saw? She took on huge challenges, creating success with care and attention to detail. This and her aesthetics kept her interior design business flourishing through referrals and repeat business without need for advertising. There’s a block in Highland Park where the majority of the homes have Dorothy Dupree draperies. Even today, 20 years after retiring the business, Dorothy’s clients speak of the quality she brought to her work.
She saw renewed value in what others saw as junk before recycling was popular. She loaded up the furniture from her husband’s abandoned, rain-soaked family home and learned how to rebuild and refinish the pieces, so that now my brother and I enjoy these family treasures from the 1920s and 30s.
After her mother had cancer surgery, Dorothy had an apartment built for her above our garage, giving her mother a home and an opportunity to help with the business.
Dorothy donated her services to her passions — making church choir robes, draperies for the church and parsonages, college wardrobes for her best friend’s daughter, and redecorating a room for her grandbaby.
When her two children chose creative activities unfamiliar to her, she eagerly provided the lessons, transportation and encouragement — driving 30 minutes to Dallas for piano lessons at 7 a.m., twice a week.
She made sure the family “got-out-of-hades” (Texas in the summer) and ventured forth to all 48 continental states, the first stop being the cool mountains of Colorado or Arkansas.
She worked to make sure my brother and I could attend college without the burden of also having to work. And she supported her husband, by returning to his roots near Austin following retirement, and re-starting her business there; by attending every University of Texas Longhorn Football game humanly possible; and by listening without every complaining to his thousand-and-one stories about World War II.
Calling my partner “you jack-ass” was an expression of sincere love for David. She loved her family, accepted Bob’s wife as if she were a daughter, and was very thankful that Bob and Debbie decided to give her two grandkids. (David and I were thankful too that they were off the hook for that chore.)
She was a Texas tornado of energy giving her two boys all the gifts above. I am forever grateful.