Agenda Worthy Woman: Dorothy Algiers
Hometown: Hartford, WI
Current city: Milwaukee, WI
I’m proud to introduce our first Agenda Worthy Woman… my mom, Dorothy Algiers. Now yes, I'm biased in thinking how amazing she is. But I’m pretty sure that anyone that knows her agrees that she's indeed pretty darn special. She’s 90 years old, and has been a guiding force and constant loving presence for everyone in my family. She always thinks of others, and perhaps the most important thing she’s taught me (by example) is to be kind and interested in people's stories.
In addition to raising 5 kids and making our house a beautiful haven, she did some amazing things in her hometown of Hartford, WI. Her story...
Besides being (the best) mom of five and keeping a beautiful home, what jobs have you held?
Before I was married, I was the secretary to the plant manager of the West Bend Company in Hartford. Then, after I got married, we lived in Milwaukee. While your dad was in medical school, I worked at Allen Bradley and Western Electric. After a few years, we started a family and that became my full time (and most rewarding) job.
You lived in Hartford until your recent move to Milwaukee. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
I don’t know if I’d do anything much different, because my life was very happy and pleasant where I was. I thoroughly enjoyed living in Hartford.
You’ve traveled all around the world. What were some of your memorable trips?
I find memorable things about every trip I’ve taken. Years ago, we camped with the kids all over the U.S. – that was very fun. I enjoyed going with Jim to medical meetings around the country. We also went to Spain during Holy Week, which was a very memorable experience. France and Rome were other great trips. In recent years, we traveled with groups, which was far preferable to finding everything on our own. We joined a tour group to Greece with our two priest friends, Father Tony and Father Ken. We also enjoyed cruises - to Alaska and the Panama Canal. All were very fun!
If I could go back to any of those places, I’d pick Spain or Italy. In Spain, I’d head to Costa del Sol, and Barcelona - where I’d like to see the Sagrada Familia and take in the city’s art and architecture. I’d also like to go to Florence because of the art.
You’ve done so many things, what are some life highlights?
First, my husband and children. Next, the home we built and lived in for over 30 years. Finally, all of my friends.
Let’s time travel. What did your life look like 40 years ago?
40 years ago:
In addition to raising my children, which was very rewarding, I had many activities and interests.
I was a member of the library board (president for many of the 31 year board term), garden club, and various activities in my community. I attended meetings involving the civic activities of the city. Socially, I enjoyed my bridge club and getting together with couple friends on weekends, and meeting with neighborhood friends.
There seem to be some pretty big things that you did that you haven’t mentioned yet. Can you tell me how you helped build an arts center AND a library in Hartford? (Both of which happened when you were in your 70’s!)
I was chosen by the mayor of Hartford to be on the steering committee for the Schauer Arts and Activity Center. As part of this experience, I took trips around the country to visit art centers and theaters. I went to Boston, DC, and Pittsburgh. I was on a team of 3-4 people and really enjoyed working with them, especially one woman - Faith. She was about my age. We became good friends, and together, we more or less directed the creation of the cultural center in Hartford.
Next came the library. Because I was president of the library, I became involved in the selection of the architect and the design/creation of the library. We visited libraries in the area. We selected and employed an architectural firm from Milwaukee for the library. The end product was great. This was particularly meaningful to me because I had been fighting for a new library the entire time I was on the library board - 31 years. I’m proud of what was built. It was described as “one the most beautiful public buildings in the MKE Metropolitan area.”
Another proud moment was when I was recognized at a reception in 2011 for my work in the library.
Now, in addition to all of your great accomplishments with the arts center and library, I happen to know you have a number of very cool hobbies. Can you tell me about them?
I used to paint years ago, and then got into it again through helping to establish the Oil Painting Program in the Schauer School of the Arts. I took lessons after we hired an art teacher. I had done some painting when I was a teenager, and hadn’t lifted a finger since then and decided to take lessons. I took lessons for 10-15 years. I’ve been painting ever since. Other hobbies I’ve had include sewing clothes for my children. I also made quilts and curtains, and wallpapered like crazy. I did staircases, bathrooms, kitchens - every room! Refinishing furniture was another hobby I enjoyed – I would go to auctions and find furniture to refinish.
Let’s talk food. You’ve made so many amazing things. What are your favorite things to cook or bake?
I enjoy making chili. The secret to good chili is to add a teaspoon of sugar. I also love making banana bread and lemon pies.
What do you prefer…cooking, takeout, or eating out?
I enjoy an invitation to relative or friend’s house.
I'll eat anything, as long as I don’t have to cook it. :)
Let’s get to some other important questions… what’s your poison? Red or white?
White wine. I prefer a beer, though.
You’re an avid reader… what’s your favorite genre? Also, I know years ago, you started a list of all the books you’ve read- what are you up to?
I like mysteries. I did have a list. I think I reached at least 600, but I stopped counting.
You always know what's going on in the world, near and far. How do you stay on top of everything?
Reading and being interested in people and things.
As you look around today, what surprises you?
Not much. I’ve seen it all.
You’ve done so many great things. Do you have any advice to your younger self?
No, I have no regrets. I’d do everything the same.
My greatest accomplishment and proudest feat was raising five successful, wonderful children.
And with that lovely statement, I'll close this interview. Thanks, Mom for being my first (and favorite) guest! You're the best!
At groundbreaking of Jack Russell Memorial Library in Hartford, WI. Below is a picture taken in the completed library, at a recognition ceremony for years of service on the library board.
My Agenda-Worthy Mom.
Hands in the air for our Agenda Worthy Mom!