LEWISTON — Children and adults from all walks of life mourned the loss of Mother Goose in March. From her youngest fans to her oldest students, Dorothy Darling Gatchell will forever be loved and remembered throughout the Twin Cities for more than merely her amazing Mother Goose impersonation.
And next year, one Edward Little High School graduate will have the honor of following in the footsteps of the beloved retired teacher who died last month with the help of a scholarship honoring her memory.
“She was just a wonderful person who was always helping others,” said Sue Driscoll, instructor of the Happy Hearts program at Central Maine Medical Center Wellness Center. “I just figured that the greatest honor we could give her was to do this.”
Driscoll, who knew Gatchell for more than 14 years as a student in her rehabilitation program, started a scholarship fund in Gatchell’s name with fellow Wellness Center employee, Lydia Howes, community relations coordinator for the program. The scholarship will be awarded in 2011 to an Edward Little High School graduate who plans to pursue a career in education.
The 74-year-old retired Auburn schoolteacher, is probably best known for entertaining thousands of youngsters over the years dressed as Mother Goose, telling stories in public libraries and classrooms throughout the area. The Auburn woman died suddenly on March 23 at Central Maine Medical Center following an illness.
“She was a teacher,” Driscoll said. “She carried that role right to the end. She just carried that through her life. She made you think. She got people to think differently about life.”
Driscoll said that Gatchell was always the one in her class who made it a point to gather together her fellow students for group activities — both in an out of the Wellness Center. From group discussions after class to lunch or plays outside of it, Driscoll said that Gatchell always tried to bring people together.
Gatchell spent much of her career as a teacher in Auburn public schools where she taught kindergarten, pre-kindergarten and the former transitional class that served as a bridge between the two, and helped develop the school system’s early childhood education program. In education circles, Gatchell was well-known for her teaching style which helped her connect with students on several different levels.
Driscoll and Howes were both quick to point out that Gatchell’s easy-going, approachable style didn’t end at the classroom door. Both women agreed that Gatchell was forever teaching and encouraging people to expand their minds and empower their lives through learning.
“She was very curious. She was always looking for something she could learn — always looking for the next new thing,” Howes said. “I thought it was neat the way she was always exploring.”
Howes said that she used to tell Gatchell all the time that “When I grow up, I want to be like you.”
Driscoll and Howes said that they wanted to establish the scholarship fund in Gatchell’s honor because of the way she always wanted to do things and make things happen for her community. Howes said that the fund is currently slated to be a one-time scholarship, but indicated that she is not ruling out multiple years if there is overwhelming support for the scholarship.
“She was such a positive influence on the community. I’m really pleased to have some way to return the favor to her,” Howes said.
Donations should be sent to the Dorothy Gatchell Scholarship Fund, c/o Lydia Howes, 395 West Auburn Road, Auburn, ME, 04210. For more information, contact Howes at 795-2473 or 786-3783.