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January 31, 2003

It's not much fun when one of these columns is devoted to the passing of someone of special interest in this community, but there are some things I feel should be said about Dorothy Ebersole. This gentle lady died the other day after several months in one of the local nursing homes. The circumstances were not what Dorothy would have chosen, but this is an instance where all of us who knew her can say with certainty that she is happier now than she has been in a long time. Dorothy was surely aware of the loving care she received from the staff at the nursing home and the faithful attention provided by family and friends but she had known happier times.

She was the younger of two daughters born to B.J. and Effie Woodruff. Her brothers were Raymond and Marsh Woodruff, and her sister was Maxine Woodruff Mugler. The entire family contributed to the early history of this community. Her father was the operator of one of this area's largest stores, Woodruff's Dry Goods, at 631Delaware on the north side of the square. (My Dad had the City Drug Store just up the street from there, and they were contemporary businessmen in the early years of this city.) Raymond Woodruff was a clerk in major clothing stores of this area for many years. Marsh Woodruff began a career as a professional Chamber of Commerce executive in Perry. Maxine Woodruff became the wife of John Mugler, scion of another early-day Perry family. All of those named in this thumbnail sketch of the Woodruff family are now deceased.

Dorothy was one of the brightest students produced by Perry High School. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and began a promising career as a reporter for the Ponca City News. There she honed her skills as a writer under the tutelage of the Muchmore family, who owned the paper at that time. Later she was selected as managing editor of the Journal of the Oklahoma Medical Association, a prestigious job requiring knowledge of progress in the healing arts and relating them to health standards in this state. She greatly enjoyed her time there as a news writer and editor.

In 1940, Dorothy married Asbury Lockhart (Al) Ebersole, the manual training instructor at Perry High School where I was a student. At the time Mr. Ebersole was losing his patience regularly, trying to teach me how to create major projects, like bedroom furniture, dining tables and other large-scale examples of the woodworking art, but I was still having trouble making such simple pieces as bread boards and bookends. Dorothy was good for him. He soon toned down his frustrated efforts on my behalf and eventually we all became good friends and members of the same Sunday school class at the Presbyterian Church. Dorothy invariably had a sly, humorous clipping to share with the rest of us. We were the young married class," and Al Ebersole and Dorothy were two of the most faithful members. His untimely death was hard on all of us. Their son, Sam, his wife, Jeannie, and their family remain as living and loving links to the Woodruff family. But we will always remember Dorothy, her husband, her brothers, her sister, her parents and the rest of the early-day folks who helped give this city its personality andand distinctive family flavor.