- Associated Press - Saturday, May 20, 2017

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) - Dorothy Bizer can no longer tell her own story. That task is left to her husband, Bob.

With the help of other church members, Bob erected a sort of memorial at Trinity Church, where Dorothy has been a member for almost 100 years. It took about a month and a half to get it put together.

“I had all this stuff at home,” Bob said. “I was trying to make sense out of it. I sing in the church choir, so I asked them for some help.

Dorothy was born April 11, 1921. She just turned 96. The house is still standing at the corner of 10th and Washington. Part of her ancestry is a mystery because her grandmother was left on the doorstep of an orphanage and taken in by a family.”

Dorothy graduated with honors from Western Illinois University in 1943 and received a master’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1951. She spent her entire career as a Latin and English teacher at Quincy Junior High School.

“She never knew her father,” Bob said. “He died when she was 2. Her mother, her sister and her brother were very close. When she went to school at Irving, she thought she would be in the same room as her sister. When she couldn’t be, she cried and cried. She went home and waited for the next semester before she actually started. Then she was happy.”

Before getting married, Dorothy was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the American Academy in Rome for a summer.

“My dad was a minister in the Chicago area,” Bob said. “When I got here in 1958, I went to Trinity. There were some older gentlemen who took an interest in me. I didn’t meet Dorothy until a year later.

“One day I substituted Sunday School class. Dorothy was the superintendent of the youth department. She gave a good talk. She was a good teacher and a good speaker. I was impressed, so I had to find out who she was.”

He asked a friend about Dorothy, and they began a courtship that hasn’t ended.

“We had trouble getting together,” he said. “She was teaching school, and I was working nights. I asked her to go out for a ride one Sunday afternoon, and that’s how we got going.

“We’ve been married going on 57 years. We had a late start. We were both in our 30s. We never had any kids. We were older, and there was too much risk, but we traveled a lot.”

The Bizers have visited all 50 states and 48 foreign countries. A former Herald-Whig employee, Bob wrote several articles about his travels with his wife in the 1970s and ‘80s.

“She retired after 35 years, so she could get a full pension,” he said. “She continued to teach some, College for Kids at Quincy University, and she had a couple years where she taught foreign students colloquial English. But when she retired from teaching, she went into her second career, writing. I sure am proud of her accomplishments.”

There are about a dozen magazines and other publications who featured Dorothy’s work built into the display at Trinity. On a table below is a book of hundreds of poems — the majority of which have religious themes — she wrote over the years.

“Dr. Robert E. Meyer, who became superintendent of Quincy Public Schools, started out as a Latin teacher. He and Dorothy worked together. He would go to musicals. He would bring back the music, and Dorothy would write words to go with it. They would get together and put on a big production. A Latin festival, they would call it.

“We had a Meals on Wheels route when he retired, and every Wednesday we took meals to him for half a dozen years. Usually I’d take it in, but every once in awhile, she would go in, too. When she was in the car, he would send items out for her to read, usually something about Latin.

“She was busy. She was elected from this area to the Central Association of the United Church of Christ. She was the moderator the year I retired. We got in the car on the Friday I was done. She had the meeting the next day, and we just headed out. She was chosen to be on the board of the whole conference. It was my job to drive her to Chicago for these meetings for a couple years. It was a lot of driving, but I enjoyed it. It was a vacation.”

When speaking of his wife, Bob shifts between using the past and present tense.

“She has Alzheimer’s,” he said. “I was having trouble taking care of her. She’s confined to a wheelchair. It got to the point where I just couldn’t handle it anymore.”

A former Good Samaritan Home Auxiliary President, Dorothy has lived there for the last year.

“It’s been pretty hard on me,” Bob said. “I tire out pretty quickly. I usually get a nap in the morning. Then I go over there after lunch at noon and take her out for a ride. They were having a sing-a-long last time I went there, and I joined in.

“She knows me, and when she sees people she’s known for a while, she lights up. Her use of language is not too good, and she’s on hospice. Yesterday, she was out in the sun, and she was actually putting some sentences together. She’s improving.”

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Source: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://bit.ly/2qw6fhn

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Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://www.whig.com

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