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Thelma Dickey (Levine) Worthen (-2010)


Posted By: Ames Tribune
Date: 7/12/2010 at 23:51:40

THE AMES TRIBUNE, Ames, Story County, Iowa, Saturday, July 10, 2010.

Thelma Dickey Worthen, 89, died Monday, July 5, 2010, in the San Francisco Bay Area of natural causes. The date, location and time of a future memorial service will be announced in coming weeks.

She leaves her children, Robert Dickey, William Dickey, Sarajane Dickey and Laura Eytan. Grandmother to ten and great-grandmother to seven, she also leaves an extended family of nieces, nephews, their children, a variety of relatives from all around the country, as well as many, many friends.

Born and raised in Ames during the Depression, Thelma was the fifth child and only daughter of Dr. Max and Adele Levine. As a child she was known for turning cartwheels down the street, much to the chagrin and embarrassment of her four older brothers who felt it was un-ladylike to be showing her bloomers.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, Thelma married and had a family with Robert Dickey in 1944 and ultimately moved to Champaign, Ill., in 1950. While raising her children, Thelma taught elementary school in Mansfield, Ill. (1955 to 1958) and at Leal School in Urbana, Ill. (1958 to 1968). During those years she earned her master’s degree in education at the University of Illinois with a specialty in African literature. Thelma developed great expertise in children’s literature which she incorporated into her writing across the curriculum methodology, used throughout her teaching career.

Once her children were grown, Thelma relocated to California, marrying Dick Worthen and continuing her teaching for 14 more years at Vista Grande School (1968 to 1970) in Danville and Stone Valley School (1970 to 1982) in Alamo. She was beloved by her students, keeping in contact with many of them after they grew up and had children of their own. Some became teachers themselves, at every level of education, acknowledging their love of the field to the time they had spent in her classroom.

Before retiring in 1982, Thelma distinguished herself as an exceptional teacher by being elected to the Education Honorary Society in Urbana (1965), becoming a longtime member of the Curriculum Study Commission of the Central California Council of Teachers of English (1970 to 2007) and, in 1977, being selected to be a teacher-consultant for the Bay Area Writing Project at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, Thelma assisted in the creation of the English Framework for the State of California, introducing and assisting in its application through teacher coaching and mentoring in districts and school sites.

Thelma had a special talent for creating things by hand, first curtains, slipcovers and her children’s clothes, including prom dresses, followed by years of baking, crocheting, knitting and her true passion, quilting. Through her retirement years in Benicia, Calif., she invested herself in a number of long-standing groups, a few being the Friends of the Benicia Library, the Carquinez Strait Stitchers and a long-standing book group consisting of many friends, some of them former teachers.

Possessing a wonderful smile that would warm and light up a room, Thelma loved socializing, animated conversation and discussions about politics and literature. Throughout her life she took great pride in her very active role in public education as well as the many accomplishments of her children and their children, of whom she was very proud.

Memorial gifts may be made in her name to the Benicia Library, attention Toni Yosick, 150 East “L” St., Benicia, Calif. 94510.


Story Obituaries maintained by Mark Christian.
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